The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that a person is injured in a car accident every 10 seconds. Crashes affect approximately three million Americans annually. From fender benders to catastrophic collisions, car accidents can be costly. Statistics show that motor vehicle accidents are the leading type of traumatic event for men, and the second most frequent trauma for women in the United States. The psychological effects of even the most minor accident may become debilitating over time. Anxiety, depression, phobias, and post-traumatic stress disorder are the most common conditions experienced by car accident victims. These issues may call for medical attention or time away from work. Our Massachusetts car accident lawyers have seen how such a trauma can effect accident victims.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
A recent study reveals that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) affects 10% to 45% of car accident victims. While feelings of fear, loss of control, anxiety, and stress are typical responses after any kind of trauma, they tend to dissipate over time. What differentiates PTSD from these other conditions is the long lasting or recurring nature of the symptoms. These symptoms may include:
- Re-experiencing Symptoms – Often referred to as flashbacks, this is when a victim has episodes of physically and emotionally re-living the accident. This may also manifest through nightmares and other negative experiences.
- Avoidance – This is a defense mechanism used to keep the victim from initiating memories of the crash. He or she may avoid the site of the crash, or any people involved that trigger anxiety.
- Changing beliefs – A traumatic car accident may induce a shift in a victim’s perspective of people, activities, or self-image. This is usually considered as another avoidance mechanism. New feelings of fear, guilt, and shame are common.
- Hyper-arousal – This is when an accident victim exhibits a nervous, hyper-alert state. He or she has trouble releasing tension and may have difficulty focusing or sleeping.