How to Cope with Emotional Trauma After a Car Accident

Glenn Honda | | Car Accidents

A car accident is one of the most traumatic events that a person can experience. After a crash, the main focus is always treating the victim’s physical injuries. That’s understandable — severe injuries need immediate treatment. Unfortunately, the attention given to bodily injuries often leads to neglect of emotional trauma, leaving individuals with little or no assistance.

The failure to focus on the mental effects of a traffic collision can have negative legal consequences for victims in Hawaii. Insurance companies place far more weight on providing compensation for physical injuries. In addition, state laws make suing for emotional distress difficult unless the victim has an accompanying bodily injury.

If you or someone you love is living with mental trauma after a car accident, a compassionate Honolulu attorney at Recovery Law Center can help. When you work with us, you get a legal team fully committed to supporting you on your path to healing. Call or contact us today for a free, private consultation.

Car Accidents and Emotional Trauma

Car Accidents and Emotional TraumaCar accidents can be horrifying and upsetting. People might feel scared, anxious, sad, or guilty after being in or seeing an accident. While some people start to feel better after a while, others might have difficulty getting past these feelings.

Take post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as an example. A study published in the journal Frontiers in Psychiatry found that nearly half of all participants showed clinical signs of PTSD after being involved in a traffic accident. Around 70 percent reported psychological problems that interfered with their work and school lives, and an additional 52 percent felt severely impaired socially. Family relationships suffered, and alcohol dependence, sleep disturbances, and repeated memories or thoughts of the traffic accident also haunted the participants.

What are the Signs of Emotional Trauma?

Emotional trauma can result from a wide range of experiences, from personal events like serious accidents, abuse, or loss to larger-scale events such as natural disasters or warfare. The signs of emotional trauma can vary significantly among individuals but tend to include a mix of psychological, emotional, and physical symptoms.

If you’re trying to understand emotional trauma, whether it’s related to PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) symptoms, post-accident anxiety, or the depression associated with trauma, it’s crucial to be aware of these signs and consult a licensed therapist. Here are some common indicators:

  1. Intrusive Thoughts: This includes unwelcome, involuntary thoughts, memories, or flashbacks of the traumatic event. For someone who has experienced a serious accident, these might involve reliving the accident repeatedly in their mind.
  2. Avoidance Behaviors: Individuals may avoid people, places, activities, or situations that remind them of the traumatic event. This avoidance can be a significant indicator of post-accident anxiety, where the person avoids driving or traveling altogether.
  3. Negative Thought Patterns: This can manifest as hopelessness, negative beliefs about oneself or the world, or a persistent negative emotional state (e.g., sadness, anger, guilt). There’s often a strong depression associated with trauma, where the person feels disconnected and detached from people and activities they once enjoyed.
  4. Changes in Physical and Emotional Reactions: Symptoms can include difficulty sleeping, changes in appetite, aches and pains without clear physical cause, and self-destructive behavior. Emotional reactions might involve sudden bouts of anger, persistent feelings of sadness, or crying spells.
  5. Recurring Nightmares: Specifically related to the traumatic event, these can disturb sleep and contribute to a cycle of anxiety and fatigue, impacting daily functioning.
  6. Social isolation: Emotional trauma can lead to feelings of isolation or detachment from family and friends. The individual might feel numb or disconnected from their emotions and those around them.
  7. Difficulty Experiencing Positive Emotions: This can be an inability to feel happiness, satisfaction, or love, which are critical aspects of the depression associated with trauma.

Can You Get Compensation for Emotional Distress?

Yes, you can get compensation for emotional distress after a car accident. Emotional distress falls under non-economic damages unrelated to specific financial costs like medical bills or lost wages. Instead, they relate to the psychological effects of a traumatic event or accident on your well-being.

Compensation for emotional distress can cover a range of psychological effects experienced after an accident, such as anxiety, depression, PTSD, loss of enjoyment of life, and other emotional and mental health issues. The process for claiming such compensation typically involves the following:

  1. Proving Emotional Distress: You need to demonstrate that the emotional pain and distress you’re experiencing are directly related to the car accident. This can be through personal testimony, witness statements, and often, most crucially, medical records from psychologists or psychiatrists.
  2. Documentation: Keeping detailed records of your emotional health, treatments, counseling sessions, and how the distress has affected your daily life will strengthen your case.
  3. Severity and Duration: The amount of compensation can also depend on the severity and duration of your emotional distress. Longer-lasting and more severe cases tend to result in higher compensation.
  4. Legal Representation: Emotional distress claims can be tricky, so it is often beneficial to have an attorney who can navigate them and represent you.

Immediate Steps to Take After a Car Accident

If you’ve been in a car accident, it’s not just the physical injuries that need attention—your emotional well-being is equally important. The shock and stress of the event can lead to long-lasting emotional trauma if not addressed promptly. Here’s what you can do right away to start healing emotionally:

  1. Seek Medical Attention: Even if you feel fine, some injuries, especially internal ones, might not show symptoms immediately. This step is crucial for physical health and deeply connects with emotional well-being.
  2. Seek Professional Help: If you suffer symptoms from car accident trauma, it’s wise to consult a mental health professional. They can offer strategies to manage your initial distress and prevent long-term psychological effects. Remember, seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness.
  3. Inform Your Insurance Company: Contact your insurance company to report the accident. They can guide you on the necessary steps to take for any claims. Handling this early can alleviate financial stresses related to the accident, reducing one potential source of emotional strain.
  4. Consider Legal Advice: Understandably, dealing with legalities is the last thing on your mind. However, getting in touch with a legal professional, like a car accident lawyer, can help protect your rights and ensure you’re compensated fairly for any damages or injuries. This step can significantly lessen your worries about financial implications and let you focus more on recovery.

How Recovery Law Center Can Help You After a Motor Vehicle Collision

Recovering from a car accident is a journey that covers both your physical and emotional well-being. It’s a process that requires patience, support, and, sometimes, professional guidance. As we’ve discussed ways to cope with the emotional trauma following a car accident, it’s important to remember that you’re not alone in this journey. The Recovery Law Center is here to provide the additional support you might need, especially when navigating the legal aspects of your recovery.

After a motor vehicle collision, dealing with insurance claims, medical bills, and potential legal matters can feel overwhelming and add to your emotional strain. Our experienced car accident lawyers specialize in personal injury claims, offering compassionate and comprehensive legal services to ensure your rights are protected and you receive the compensation you deserve. Schedule a consultation with us to help you with your recovery process.

Glenn T. Honda

For over 29 years, attorney Glenn Honda has helped people injured in accidents throughout Hawaii get the best outcome for their case, whether it’s maximizing their settlement, or balancing costs and risks vs. putting the whole experience behind them. As the founding attorney of the Recovery Law Center, he is passionate about helping his clients with their physical, emotional and financial recovery. Mr. Honda will fight to get you coverage for your medical bills, lost wages, damaged property and other costs related to your accident.

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