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Can a Car Crash Affect Victims Mentally?

About 13 car accidents occur in the US every minute. In 2020, 4.8 million people suffered severe injuries due to car crashes.

What most people assume when they think of injuries is the physical type. For example, where your back hurts, a broken bone, or a concussion.

But injuries from an auto accident can go beyond physical injuries. The mental effects of a car crash can be as devastating as physical injuries and have a lasting impact on your life.

If you or someone you love has been in an accident, read on to learn more about the psychological impact an accident can have on them and their lives moving forward.

Symptoms of Psychological Issues After a Car Crash

When a person suffers a physical injury, the symptoms and impact are usually visually obvious. The psychological effects of a car accident also have symptoms.

They may be less subtle, and you may need to connect what you’re experiencing with the mental impact of your accident. Common symptoms of a psychological injury include:

  • Loss of enjoyment from regular activities
  • Withdrawal from human contact
  • Avoidance of social events
  • Mood swings
  • Anger, frustration, guilt
  • Increased stress and anxiety
  • Disrupted sleep
  • Nightmares
  • Depression

Many victims experiencing a negative mental impact from a car accident suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. They develop new fears, like riding in a car.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Following a Car Accident

As mentioned, one mental condition commonly occurring in accident victims is post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD. You’ve likely heard of veterans returning from combat who suffer from PTSD.

A bad car accident, especially one that was particularly violent, will traumatize the victims so significantly it triggers PTSD for the victim.

The psychological impact of PTSD can be profound on a person’s life. Some symptoms might include:

  • Intense and uncontrollable memories of the car accident
  • Flashbacks to the events
  • Nightmares
  • Avoidance of anything associated with the event, like refusal to ride in a car
  • Intense emotional distress
  • Depression
  • Withdrawal from all interactions and activities
  • Self-harm

Treatment for PTSD can take a long time. It usually includes intensive therapy and often medication.

Fear and Anxiety About Being in a Car

It’s not uncommon for one of the mental effects of being in a car accident to develop a significant fear or phobia of being in a car.

For some victims following a car accident, just the thought of getting in a car or having to drive a car can trigger various symptoms. These might include:

  • Intense anxiety
  • Flashbacks to the accident
  • Nightmares
  • Blackouts
  • Physical discomfort

This intense anxiety can make it difficult for accident victims to resume normal life activities.

Proving Psychological Trauma for Your Personal Injury Case

When you file a personal injury lawsuit, any psychological toll the accident has on you would need to be proven, as there would need to be documentation for physical injuries.

In an accident case, the psychological impact is considered noneconomical damages. Your attorney will also need to provide evidence.

Let’s take a closer look at the type of evidence that would likely get used.

Therapist Files

Often the psychological impacts of a car accident require a victim to see a therapist.

The therapist can provide documentation and notes that can help to make the vital connection between the car accident and the symptoms a victim experiences.

Through therapy, the care provider can provide the necessary evidence to show the amount of suffering experienced by the car accident victim.

Medical Diagnosis

Sometimes the psychological toll of an accident also triggers physical symptoms. Accident victims might start to have severe headaches. They might suffer from weight loss from the anxiety they feel.

As part of the medical evidence, your care providers can give evidence and documentation about the impact being experienced from the mental injuries.

Even the onset of high blood pressure following an accident could be associated with higher anxiety levels from an accident.

Expert Testimony

While personal injury cases rarely go to trial, if one did, it would be expected for a lawyer to call in an expert witness.

This expert witness might be a medical doctor or a psychologist who specializes in the mental impact and symptoms of a car accident.

The expert can provide information that shows the common impact on the psyche from a severe accident. They can make connections between common symptoms and the ones the victim suffers.

Personal Testimony

Your personal injury attorney might decide that sharing your story could be impactful evidence. Hearing firsthand the suffering a victim has felt following an accident can be powerful evidence in a deposition or a trial.

Compensation for Psychological Damage

Most accident victims recognize that they can file a personal injury suit and seek compensation for physical injuries from an accident. They could get medical bills and lost wages paid as part of the suit.

You can also seek damages for noneconomic damages like pain and suffering from an accident. Any mental suffering or psychological damage a victim experiences due to the accident can be included when seeking damages.

Get the Help You Need From a Personal Injury Lawyer

One of the most important things any accident victim can do following an accident is seek the aid of a good attorney.

It’s common for car accident victims to think they won’t need a lawyer. They might even think they won’t pursue a legal claim until they start facing the ramifications of the accident.

Whether you have mounting medical bills or insurmountable mental anguish from the accident, you deserve compensation.

A car accident lawyer can focus on protecting your interests while you focus on healing. They also know how to deal with insurance companies to ensure you get all the compensation you’re entitled to.

Recovering From Your Car Crash

Being the victim of a car crash can have a life-altering impact on a person. Injuries can be both physical and mental and can be equally devastating.

Hiring an experienced accident lawyer is so important to protect your interest. If you or someone you love was in an auto accident, let us help you. Contact us today so we can help you get the compensation you deserve.


In short, after a car accident, you may not know your rights. Above all, don’t struggle through the process alone. Actually, our personal injury team is here to help you with any legal needs you might have regarding your accident.

Lastly, let RHINO Lawyers answer your questions and review the facts of your case with a Free Consultation. So, get started by completing the “Free Instant Case Evaluation” or by calling us any time, day or night, at 844.RHINO.77.