Key Points of This Article:
- Emotional distress or PTSD often develops after a traumatic car accident.
- The symptoms of PTSD typically develop around 3 months later or more.
- You can file a lawsuit against the guilty driver or your own insurance for emotional distress.
Physical injuries tend to be the focus when people think about the aftermath of a car accident. However, the emotional distress damages that can follow can be just as severe, if not worse, than the physical injuries a car accident victim sustains. The symptoms of emotional injuries can even linger long after the physical injuries have healed.
Due to the life-altering and debilitating nature of emotional distress, victims can receive compensation for their emotional pain and suffering, and mental health. However, pursuing a lawsuit for emotional distress can be challenging. Though the pain and suffering and emotional trauma you are experiencing are very real and valid, you must be able to convince the court as well, which requires the help of an experienced personal injury and emotional distress lawyer.
Emotional Distress and Symptoms to Look Out For
Before getting into the process of filing an accident claim and suing for emotional suffering in Saginaw, it’s first helpful to understand what emotional distress looks and feels like. It’s important to know what signs and symptoms to look out for so you can document them should you decide to file a lawsuit.
Emotional anguish often appears after someone has gone through a traumatic experience. However, even the most minor motor vehicle accidents can result in the development of emotional distress. There is no way to really control how our bodies and brains react to things, and sometimes, even if we physically feel fine, our minds can still experience distress.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is often the label given to what victims of car accidents are experiencing when they develop symptoms of emotional distress. Some common signs and symptoms of emotional distress and PTSD to look out for include the following:
- Emotional instability
- Mood swings
- Irritability and outbursts
- Memory loss
- Difficulty concentrating
- Difficulty focusing and making decisions
- Short attention span
- Intrusive memories and flashbacks
- Difficulty sleeping
- Avoiding people, places, or things that remind you of the accident
- Fear of driving
- Easily startled
- Always on guard
- Self-destructive behaviors
For children that are experiencing PTSD and emotional distress, symptoms can include:
- Clingy behavior
- Acting out the accident
Generally, most symptoms of negligent infliction of emotional distress or PTSD will appear around three months after the accident. However, some symptoms can appear sooner, and some may not develop until several months to years later.
What to Do if You Suspect Emotional Distress After a Car Accident in Saginaw
Even if you don’t immediately suspect that you are suffering from emotional distress or PTSD from an auto accident, you should always take the following steps after a car accident in case any issues arise down the road:
- Seek immediate medical attention: Always see a doctor following an accident—it doesn’t matter if you feel fine and don’t have any apparent injuries or symptoms. You never know what could be going on internally, and a medical professional will be able to provide you with a more thorough exam and diagnosis.
Furthermore, if you do develop symptoms of PTSD down the road, having documentation of an initial exam following the accident will help your doctor better understand why these symptoms have developed. It will also benefit your case should you file a personal injury claim or file a lawsuit.
- Document everything: Documentation of your symptoms and any treatments you received will be critical should you decide to sue. You will need to prove to the court that your PTSD and emotional distress are directly related to the accident. This means keeping track of everything from day one. Document any symptoms you experience and how they have affected your day-to-day life. Make sure to request copies of all medical documents and reports from your doctor and/or the hospital as well.
- Report the accident to your insurance: If you need to pursue a personal injury claim for compensation immediately following the accident, you will need to inform your insurance company to get the claim started. Having this report on file will also help if you decide to file a lawsuit against the guilty party.
- Contact an car accident lawyer: Whether you are only filing a personal injury claim initially or know you will be filing a lawsuit as well, you should always get in touch with an experienced attorney to ensure you get the compensation you deserve. Filing claims and lawsuits after an accident can be tricky, and the guilty party’s insurance company may try to deny fault or use your own words against you to reduce the compensation amount. It’s always in your best interest to work with a car accident attorney who can guide you through the process and help you avoid making any mistakes that can negatively impact your situation.
Filing a Claim and Suing For Emotional Distress in Saginaw, Michigan
Immediately following an accident, you will likely either file a personal injury claim against the at-fault party or a “no-fault” claim if the accident was not the result of another driver’s negligent actions. A personal injury claim will ensure you are compensated for things like medical expenses, lost wages, vehicle repairs, and emotional and physical pain and suffering. A no-fault claim will provide the same benefits through your own auto insurance policy’s “personal protection insurance” (PIP) coverage.
If your emotional distress and PTSD get worse, or you simply feel that the compensation you received through a personal injury claim was not enough, you may sue the at-fault driver for additional pain and suffering compensation. Or, if your PIP benefits get denied or cut off, you can sue your own insurance company.
If you decide to file a lawsuit, you will need to contact an attorney if you have not done so already. They will discuss your options and guide you through the process, which will include gathering any evidence to prove fault as well as documentation of your PTSD symptoms, how it has altered your life, and any treatments you received or need to receive to recover.
It is important to note, you can only sue for PTSD and emotional distress if there is ALSO a physical injury. Unfortunately, you cannot sue for PTSD alone. There needs to be a physical injury or impairment. It can be a small injury, but you will need to prove that you had medical treatment along with the PTSD you are wanting compensation for
The Lee Steinberg Law Firm: Helping Victims of Car Accidents in Saginaw, Michigan
The process of filing a lawsuit for emotional distress can be long and arduous. Working with an attorney is critical to ensure all necessary steps and precautions are taken to win your case. For over 40 years, our attorneys have handled a number of car accident cases, including those involving PTSD and emotional and psychological distress. We care about the safety and comfort of our clients and will fight tirelessly for their cause.
Call our Saginaw, Michigan personal injury attorneys at 1-800-LEE-FREE (1-800-533-3733) to speak with an experienced attorney. Our consultations are free no obligation consultations and confidential, and you’ll pay nothing until we settle your personal injury case.