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Is It Possible to Develop PTSD After a Car Crash?

Young woman sits on outdoor concrete steps with her head in her hands and a sad look on her face

Being involved in a car accident can leave you feeling traumatized, frightened, and may even leave you with feelings of depression. You should know that all of these emotions are completely normal and to be expected.

But, is it possible to develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of a car accident? The answer is yes.

Keep reading to learn more about PTSD, how it affects auto accident survivors, and how victims can seek compensation.

What Is PTSD?

PTSD is a disorder that involves trauma and is stressor-related. It can be developed as a result of a traumatic or stressful occurrence.

It’s common for people with PTSD not to experience symptoms right away. It may take several weeks or even months after the trauma (once your physical injuries have probably healed) for you to experience symptoms.

Since car accidents can be seriously traumatic, it is very possible to develop PTSD as a result. In fact, some studies suggest that car accidents have become the leading cause of PTSD since the Vietnam war. It is estimated that 9% of survivors of serious accidents develop significant PTSD symptoms.


Some common symptoms of PTSD are as follows:

  • Re-experiencing memories - Including flashbacks or intrusive memories about the experience, nightmares, and undesired memories.
  • Avoidance - You may try to avoid talking or thinking about the experience. This includes avoiding people, places, or events that trigger the stressor.
  • Mood swings and negative thoughts - While your mood can frequently change, you may have PTSD if you feel sad, numb, and hopeless often. You may also be very self-critical, feel very guilty, or have feelings of self-loathing. It’s also possible to feel disconnected from others, which can exacerbate PTSD.
  • Changes in behaviors and reactions - If you have PTSD, you may experience unexpected emotional blowouts, such as becoming easily startled, scared, upset, or irrational. It may also prompt you to be self-destructive; including, speeding, taking drugs, or consuming too much alcohol.

PTSD Differs from Depression

While many of the symptoms of PTSD and depression are similar, it’s important not to confuse the two. You may be diagnosed with PTSD if you experience the symptoms for over four weeks and it’s challenging to complete daily duties because of your distress and emotions.

At Whiting Hagg & Dorsey, LLP, we’re here to help you and you can count on us because our team is highly experienced in the realm of personal injury law. We’ve helped hundreds of other injured accident victims just like you, and we may be able to help you, too. Don’t hesitate to reach out to our office with your case right away.

If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident, our lawyers at Whiting Hagg & Dorsey, LLP may be able to help you receive the settlement you deserve. Give us a call at (605) 519-6136 or fill out an online contact form.