Emotional Distress and Anxiety Following a Car Crash
With road accidents a leading cause of death in the United States – traffic fatalities hit a 16-year high in 2021, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration – it’s not surprising that many New York drivers report having experienced a traumatic driving experience.
Though driving anxiety after a past car crash may not be specific condition listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, related conditions include:
- amaxophobia, the fear of being in a vehicle either as a passenger or driver;
- vehophobia, the fear of driving; and
- post-traumatic stress disorder, which develops in some people who have experienced a dangerous event.
After the trauma of a car accident, some people may begin to develop post-traumatic stress disorder. “[A] causally-related emotional injury, alone or in combination with a physical injury, can constitute a serious injury,” according to one legal ruling.
According to another: Post-traumatic stress disorder “may constitute such an injury when it is causally related to a motor vehicle accident and demonstrated by objective medical evidence.”
This is significant because, in most circumstances, someone injured in a New York car accident must show a “serious injury” to be compensated for pain and suffering. By recognizing that an emotional injury such as PTSD can alone qualify as a serious injury, New York courts have recognized that this condition is very real and can be immensely debilitating, seriously affecting the daily lives of injured people.
Some signs of PTSD after a car crash may include anxiety about driving, intrusive thoughts related to the accident, nightmares about the accident, and/or avoidance of people, places, or things associated with the car accident. In fact, the American Psychological Association identified that car accidents are the leading cause of PTSD among people who did not serve in the military. Car accidents were found to be the number-one overall trauma for men and the second-most common trauma for women.
Coping with PTSD After a Car Crash
According to the National Institute of Health, fear is a natural and helpful response to a traumatic situation.
Some people quickly recover from emotional trauma. Others do not, leading to symptoms. Six percent of Americans develop PTSD, according to a study conducted by the National Center for PTSD.
A formal diagnosis of PTSD depends on the satisfaction of various criteria which relate to the duration and severity of symptoms. According to the NIH, a formal diagnosis of PTSD, which can only be made by a qualified professional such as a doctor, psychologist, or counselor, will generally require:
- At least one re-experiencing symptom, such as repeated flashbacks or recurring dreams
- At least one avoidance symptom, such as staying away from objects that remind of the traumatic experience, such as driving a car
- At least two arousal and reactivity symptoms, such as being easily startled or on edge
- At least two cognition and mood symptoms, such as memory problems or loss of interest in previously enjoyable activities
Someone can experience PTSD while also suffering from physical injuries. Someone seeking compensation for pain and suffering after a New York car crash can experience a loss of enjoyment of life insofar as injuries prevent the person from engaging in activities of daily living that once brought joy. Someone who experiences driving anxiety, whether as a component of PTSD or as a standalone condition, may experience a significant loss of enjoyment of life.
Were You in an Accident That Caused PTSD, Driving Anxiety, or Emotional Injury?
If you were injured in a New York accident and are now experiencing PTSD or driving anxiety, with or without an accompanying physical injury, you may be entitled to make a claim for pain and suffering. You could be experiencing emotional anguish that hinders your ability to perform daily tasks and enjoy life. If so, you may have sustained a serious injury, and may be entitled to assert a claim for pain and suffering
At William Mattar, P.C., an experienced accident attorney can advocate for you to receive maximum compensation. With many years of experience building personal injury cases, our attorneys have the ability to maximize your compensation. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us, at 844-444-4444, or by filling out our contact form.