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Can I Make A Claim For PTSD After A Car Accident?

September 21, 2022 Personal Injury Blog

In California, you have the right to pursue a claim if you are diagnosed with PTSD after a car accident. However, since PTSD is an emotional injury and symptoms can take weeks or months to appear, it can be challenging to link it to the accident and prove the amount of compensation you deserve to recover. 

Can I Recover Damages For PTSD After an Accident?

San Diego accident attorney

In addition to any financial losses caused by a car accident, victims can also recover damages for PTSD and other psychological conditions. Damages is the legal term referring to the compensation that a defendant is required to pay to a victim when they receive a settlement or award after a preventable accident. When determining a settlement offer for PTSD, an insurance adjuster will generally first consider the extent of your physical injuries and actual financial losses. Typically, the greater your medical bills and the impact your injuries have on your life, the more compensation you can recover for PTSD. To come up with a figure, an adjuster will typically total the amount of economic damages (e.g., medical bills, lost income, etc.) and multiply it by a number, often between 1.5 and 5, depending on the severity of your psychological harm. 

Proving PTSD After a Car Accident 

Unlike a physical injury, linking PTSD to a car accident can be challenging. Particularly if your symptoms were delayed or you have a history of suffering from psychological conditions. An insurance company may argue that your condition is related to another incident that happened since the accident or is a pre-existing condition. However, you are entitled to compensation whether the PTSD you are experiencing is solely caused by the collision or was pre-existing and aggravated by it. 

To increase your claim’s chances of success with a San Diego accident attorney, you must seek medical treatment as soon as possible after a car accident, continue to follow up treatment, and report your symptoms as soon as they begin. Medical records from seeing a general physician, psychologist, therapist, counselor, etc., prescription medications, loss of income, a journal of daily symptoms and experiences, and testimony from medical experts and family or friends can help substantiate your PTSD. 

Types of Compensation Available for PTSD

Victims able to successfully prove PTSD related to a car accident can often obtain the following types of compensation:

Medical Bills

You are entitled to reimbursement for any current and future medical expenses related to treating your PTSD, such as counseling bills, prescription medication costs, etc.

Lost Income

If you have been unable to work, you can recover compensation for your current and future lost wages. 

Pain and Suffering

Your settlement or award will typically include additional compensation based on the severity of your suffering from PTSD. Often, medical expert testimony is required to prove the extent of your PTSD and how it impacts your quality of life. 

Are there Limits to Damages For PTSD in California?

California does not place a cap or limit on the number of damages you can recover related to your PTSD from a car accident. The value of your case will depend on its unique factors, including the severity of your psychological condition, its impact on your daily life, as well as the evidence of negligence you have against the at-fault party.