Though individuals can develop emotional and psychological trauma after various incidents, car accidents tend to be the leading cause of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Those who have been involved in severe car accidents are at higher risk of developing symptoms of emotional distress and PTSD due to the traumatic nature of these incidents.
Though the physical injuries that result after a car accident tend to be the immediate focus of concern for most victims, the psychological trauma that can follow is often much more severe and harder to recover from. It is also not uncommon for emotional injuries to go undiagnosed as they are harder to detect and are not treated with as much sympathy as physical injuries.
Although emotional distress is often overlooked, victims have a right to pursue a personal injury claim to receive compensation for their emotional pain and suffering. With the help of an experienced Maryland attorney, you can receive the guidance you need to get the compensation you deserve.
At Zirkin & Schmerling Law, we have years of experience helping victims suffering from emotional distress in the aftermath of a car accident or dog bite. We understand how devastating physical and psychological injuries can be and are here to help you receive the compassionate care and service you need to win your case and get the benefits you deserve.
Why Do Car Accidents Lead to Emotional Trauma?
Anyone who experiences a traumatic and emotionally scarring event can develop psychological disorders like PTSD. However, the trauma and events that occur when someone is involved in a severe car accident are linked the most to the development of PTSD. This is likely because victims not only suffer from serious injuries but often develop fear, anxiety, and depression following a car accident.
When anxiety and depression go untreated, they can easily spiral into more severe issues and symptoms that result in debilitating psychological distress. Even those who simply witnessed a severe car accident but were not physically involved themselves have been known to develop symptoms of PTSD.
Types of Emotional and Psychological Injuries
While PTSD is the medical term most often used to describe those suffering from emotional distress following a car accident, there are other types of emotional and psychological injuries that a victim can suffer from.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric disorder that happens to those who have witnessed or experienced a traumatic event. People who develop PTSD tend to have disturbing thoughts and intense psychological and emotional reactions to the event they experienced, such as a car accident.
Acute Stress Disorder
Often, victims or witnesses of traumatic events will first develop acute stress disorder before later developing PTSD. While PTSD often doesn’t occur until months after the event, acute stress disorder can show up in the days immediately following the incident. People with this disorder will often experience flashbacks and nightmares or feel numb and detached from themselves.
Adjustment disorder also follows stressful events, but the behaviors and symptoms tend to be more severe and intense than what would be reasonably expected for the incident. For example, if someone only experienced a minor car accident with little to no injuries, they may have an adjustment disorder if they develop severe psychological symptoms. The symptoms of an adjustment disorder can show up in the first couple of months following an incident, but they tend to last no more than six months, unlike PTSD, where the symptoms can last for years.
Symptoms of Emotional Distress
Everyone reacts differently to traumatic events, and there is no way to predict precisely what symptoms a person will develop. However, on average, the following symptoms are most commonly associated with those who have developed emotional distress or PTSD following a car accident:
- Intrusive thoughts or memories relating to the accident
- Reliving the event in your mind
- Avoiding people or places that remind you of the accident
- Avoiding talking about the accident
- Avoiding driving or riding in a car
- Extreme changes in cognition or mood:
- Memory issues
- Negative thoughts, distrust, and distorted beliefs
- Excessive fear, anger, or shame
- Loss of interest in activities
- Mood swings
- Trouble connecting with others
- Extreme physical reactions:
- Easily startled
- Violent outbursts
- Destructive and reckless behavior
- Difficulty concentrating or sleeping
Pursuing a Personal Injury Claim for Emotional Pain and Suffering
After you have been in a car accident or the victim of a dog bite, you should always seek immediate medical attention no matter what symptoms you are or are not experiencing. When you file a personal injury claim, you will be able to receive compensation for monetary damages, which includes compensation for the cost of medical expenses.
A medical report will also help you build a stronger case when it comes to proving that you are experiencing emotional distress. If no initial injuries or documents are showing that you sought medical attention following the accident, it will be more difficult to receive compensation for the non-monetary emotional damages.
Following an accident, you should always:
- Seek immediate medical attention.
- Document the incident by taking photos of your injuries and the accident scene. Additionally, you should document your symptoms following the accident from day one to show the development of emotional distress and PTSD.
- Contact the local authorities to have a police report filed.
- Report the accident to your insurance company to get the claim started.
- Contact an attorney to help you with your case.
Types of Pain and Suffering Damages Awarded
Most victims tend to think of needing compensation to cover the medical expenses or other physical damages, such as car repairs, following an accident. However, you can receive compensation for your emotional suffering as well. PTSD can often alter your ability to live your life and can last for years, so it’s important to get the compensation you deserve to help you recover.
Non-monetary damages for pain and suffering can include:
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Emotional distress
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of companionship
- Psychological injuries and PTSD
- Physical impairment or disability
Pursuing A Lawsuit For Emotional Distress
If you feel that the compensation being offered for your car accident, dog bite, or personal injuyr claim isnot enough, you can pursue litigation by filing a lawsuit. This will force the insurance company to be fair in what they offer and if they continue to provide a low offer then a judge or jury can determine the value of the claim.
Similar to what you did for your personal injury claim, you should make sure you gather as much information as possible surrounding the accident. Keep records of everything, including detailed records of visits to the doctor and your day-to-day life and symptoms.
The following are examples of things you can and should document:
- Physical symptoms, such as extreme fatigue, headaches, difficulty sleeping, difficulty eating, digestive issues, infections, reckless behavior, outbursts, etc.
- Psychological symptoms, such as depression, anxiety, mood swings, nightmares, paranoia, excessive fear, sadness, or anger, etc.
- Visits to a mental health provider
- Prescription drugs
- Disruptions in your day-to-day life, including work
- The duration of your symptoms
How is Compensation for Emotional Distress Calculated?
When determining a monetary amount for emotional pain and suffering, the trier of fact will listen to the testimony and review the evidence to determine the nature and extent of your pain and suffering:
- How severe are the pain and suffering?
- How long did the suffering last?
- How has the suffering impacted your life?
- Will the suffering impact your future?
In Maryland, there is a cap on the amount a victim can receive for pain and suffering. In most personal injury cases the cap is $890,000 as of 2021. The cap in Maryland goes up by $15,000 each year.
Contact an Experienced Maryland Emotional and Psychological Injury Attorney
Whether you are pursuing a car accident, dog bite, or personal injury claim, proving the extent of your emotional distress can be complicated. It is not easy to place a dollar amount on this type of suffering and thus requires extensive documentation and evidence to convince the court. At Zirkin & Schmerling Law, we will fight hardto win you the compensation you deserve. We understand how drastically a victim’s life can be altered by an emotional and psychological injury like PTSD.
Contact us or call us at 410-753-4611 to set up an appointment with one of our personal injury attorneys today.