If you are involved in a traumatic car accident, this can cause mental health issues as well as physical injuries. Emotional distress can trigger issues that persist for months or even years after an accident, so it pays to know what to look out for and how to claim compensation for accident-induced depression.
At Flora Templeton Stuart Accident Injury Lawyers we work with our injured clients suffering from depression or post traumatic stress disorder after a serious car, truck, or motorcycle accidents to get them the help they need with counseling and other medical services.
What Are the Common Symptoms of Emotional Distress?
All car accidents are unique and are capable of presenting various forms of emotional distress and mental anguish in the aftermath.
Watch out for any of the following symptoms:
- Symptoms of depression
- Symptoms of anxiety
- Symptoms of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder)
- Panic attacks
Symptoms of Depression
These can present themselves following a car accident due to the physical pain and injuries caused by the collision.
Speak with a doctor or mental health professional if you notice these symptoms persisting in the wake of a car crash:
- Lack of energy
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
- Problems with concentration
- Losing interest in favored hobbies and activities
- Suicidal thoughts
Symptoms of Anxiety
It is common to encounter some level of anxiety after a car accident. Normally, these symptoms will dissipate after a few weeks. In the event of emotional distress, though, symptoms can linger for months. These can include:
- Panic attacks
- Muscle tension
- Chest pain
- Rapid breathing
- Phobias related to driving
- Sleep disorders
Speak to your physician if these symptoms of anxiety get worse rather than fading after a few weeks.
Symptoms of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder)
Post-traumatic stress disorder is an SMI (serious mental illness) where someone who experiences a traumatic event – a car accident, for instance – is unable to move beyond the anguish of this event.
PTSD can dramatically impact functioning, with common symptoms including:
- Chronic pain
- Feelings of detachment
- Suicidal thoughts
Can You Collect Damages for Depression After a Car Accident?
It is often easier and less nuanced to prove your physical injuries in a car accident than emotional distress such as depression. There are no diagnostic tools beyond DSM-5 (the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders for assessing the scope and severity of depression. To compound the issue, some insurance claims adjusters attempt to disprove claims of depression and emotional distress.
Immediately inform your doctor about any symptoms of depression when you are being treated for physical injuries. Document all your symptoms to help you prove your claim. If you start taking antidepressants or engage with psychotherapy or counseling for depression, document this. Most importantly, treat with reputable psychologists, counselors, and other medical health providers to document your mental distress and get the help you need.
What To Do If You Suffer Depression After an Auto Accident
If you feel depressed after a car accident and these feelings do not subside, take the following steps:
- Seek medical and psychologicaltreatment as soon as possible: The sooner you get the right medical treatment and diagnostic tests, the sooner any potentially life-threatening injuries can be ruled out.
- Get medical treatment if required: Follow your physician’s directions and engage with any therapy, counseling, or medications as appropriate.
- Keep all documentation: Proving emotional distress like depression can be tricky, so make sure you keep all documentation pertaining to your accident injuries.
- Don’t attempt to tough it out: Depression is a serious mental health condition that requires treatment, so don’t try to ride things out if you need help.
- Do not sign any releases or settlements from the insurer: If the insurance company asks you to sign any release forms or documents, ignore these requests and consult an experienced lawyer.
- Retain legal representation: If you try to pursue a complex claim like emotional distress without legal counsel representing you, you are highly unlikely to get the same results as if you hire an experienced personal injury attorney.
At Flora Templeton Stuart Accident Injury Lawyers we refer our clients suffering mental distress to counselors and physicians treating mental injuries.
How To Claim Compensation for Accident-Induced Depression
As Kentucky is a no-fault state, you begin your claim for depression caused by a car accident by filing a no-fault (PIP) benefits application with the responsible auto insurer, per the priority no-fault rules. This should cover some of the costs of your medical bills along with any lost wages if you are unable to return to work. If the insurer fails to pay for the emotional distress you experienced after a car crash, you can sue for unpaid medical bills, lost wages, medical mileage, and attendant care.
Additionally, you can sue the at-fault motorist for pain and suffering, as well as for economic damages like lost wages or past and future medical bills. The most efficient route to getting the compensation you deserve for depression caused by an accident in Kentucky is to hire an experienced personal injury attorney.