severe-car-crashOften we think of military combat when we hear about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD. Many of our country’s veterans struggle with the flashbacks, nightmares, severe anxiety and other emotional and psychological problems that are symptomatic of PTSD. But any kind of shocking event, such as a catastrophic car accident, can cause those involved to develop PTSD.

The Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta defines PTSD as “an anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal in which grave physical or personal harm occurred or threatened to occur.” The university’s Mood and Anxiety Disorders Program says this includes events like accidents, violent personal assaults, rape, and natural or human-caused disasters, as well as military combat. So if you have been in a car accident or motorcycle accident, you are at risk of developing PTSD, though it may not be immediately obvious after the accident.

PTSD victims may suffer such symptoms as:

  • Irritability or being easily startled
  • Loss of sleep
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Memory problems
  • Mood swings
  • Emotional “numbness”
  • Withdrawal from or loss of interest in daily activities
  • Inability to maintain interpersonal relationships.

PTSD is a complicated problem that has come to the forefront of public concern because of our country’s involvement in war in recent years. Military officials and some psychiatrists argue that calling post-traumatic stress a “disorder” is improper and that is should be referred to as “post-traumatic stress injury.” Even former President George W. Bush has joined this campaign.

There are have been a number of studies to identify risk factors for PTSD among both civilians and military personnel and who is most susceptible.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, risk factors for PTSD include:

  • Getting Injured
  • Witnessing other people get hurt or killed
  • Experiencing the horror, helplessness or intense fear that may occur in an accident
  • Dealing with the added stress after a serious accident caused by pain, loss of a job and loss of a loved one
  • Having little or no social support network or support group
  • Lacking a coping strategy

At Millar & Mixon, we often cite an injured client’s medical expenses and their “pain and suffering” in a legal claim for compensation after a car accident caused by another driver’s negligence. After a car crash in which a driver or passenger has suffered or witnessed a terrible or shocking injury – like a compound fracture or another disfiguring wound ­– or seen someone die, it’s not unusual for their recovery to include counseling to help them deal with the emotional fallout of what they’ve been through. The primary treatments for PTSD are psychotherapy and medications, and the treatments vary from patient to patient.

A PTSD victim may deserve to have the costs of counseling reimbursed to them, and may also deserve compensation for further consequences of the psychological harm they have suffered. This could include income losses from inability to work, as well as the pain caused by damage to important interpersonal relationships, like a marriage that breaks down because of a lingering PTSD injury.

At Emory University, researchers are working to understand how to treat PTSD. As part of that ongoing effort, the Mood and Anxiety Program is conducting a study to evaluate an investigational medication for treating PTSD in women. Women aged 18 to 65 who have been experiencing PTSD symptoms for at least one month can apply to join the study through the school’s clinical trials web page or by phoning 404-727-4964.

Article submitted by Millar & Mixon, LLC