PTSD and Auto Accidents

Major car accidents can cause more than just physical injuries—emotional injuries can linger long after the physical injuries have healed. Here, experienced attorney Douglas Lauenstein explains the relationship between car accidents and PTSD and how a PTSD claim can be implemented in your case.

What is PTSD?

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a condition caused when one witnesses a terrible event, and has long-term emotional and psychological distress after the event takes place. Often associated with veterans of war, it also manifests in those who have suffered a wide range of circumstances, including major motor vehicle collisions.

PTSD can manifest in anyone, regardless of gender or background. It is a serious condition, which requires the assistance of medical professionals. Flashbacks, anxiety and mood disruptions, as well as feelings of agitation, fear and isolation can all occur in those afflicted with PTSD. Behavior and cognitive therapy, as well as medication, can help treat the symptoms of PTSD, and most cases of PTSD are cured in several months to a year, but some can be far more serious. Nearly one in ten survivors of motor vehicle accidents will develop PTSD, making it more common than many realize.

How is a PTSD Claim Proven in Court?

PTSD-related injury claims are best proven by use of expert witnesses. It is a legal standard to use expert witnesses when a fact issue is beyond the reasonable understanding of a juror—as PTSD is a complicated psychological condition, it is critical that an expert in the field of psychology, medicine, or other relevant areas speaks to their qualifications to diagnose PTSD, and make an expert determination of whether PSTD symptoms are present in the plaintiff.

As the plaintiff will present an expert witness asserting that they are suffering from PTSD due to the auto accident, so too will the defendant provide expert testimony claiming that the plaintiff is not suffering from PTSD due to the accident. Both sides will be given the opportunity to present their interpretations of the situation at hand, at which time the judge, jury or both will be able to determine whose interpretations seems most accurate.

However, expert witnesses do not merely provide a diagnosis of the plaintiff. Their most important function is to create a minimum standard at which the plaintiff’s situation can be judged. An expert witness will explain to a jury what is required to diagnose PTSD in an individual, and whether an individual such as the plaintiff meets the requirements for a diagnosis. Fact witnesses will also be called, to corroborate the plaintiff’s claims that they indeed are experiencing symptoms of PTSD. If the expert witness is also the primary treating physician or therapist of the plaintiff, they may function as expert and fact witness simultaneously.

How Can Douglas Lauenstein Help?

PTSD is a serious condition, and the effects can severely impact a victim’s quality of life. At the Law Offices of Douglas Lauenstein, we believe every victim of a motor vehicle collision deserves just compensation, and together, we will work with you to ensure we present the expert testimony needed to corroborate your claims. If you or a loved one have suffered from PTSD due to a motor vehicle collision, don’t wait to take back control of your life—contact us today.