What are the Psychological Effects of a Car Accident?


While bodily injuries and property damage are generally highly visible and quantifiable, the lingering mental health injuries experienced by many car accident survivors could have lasting effects. A lawyer can help a car accident victim get just compensation for mental trauma after a collision as well as other injuries and damages.

Suffering from a severe injury is a strong indicator of the potential onset of mental trauma. A variety of mental health effects can make it harder for accident victims to recover from their injuries while continuing to carry the mental burden of surviving a potentially deadly incident. That can be especially true if a passenger died in the accident, and the surviving victim was especially close to them.

What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a common form of mental trauma that could occur following a car accident. The condition most commonly is associated with military combat veterans, but it also applies to many people. A vehicular accident that causes injuries to one or more survivors and possibly death to one or more passengers can trigger PTSD for survivors.

What are the Signs of Mental Trauma?

Mental trauma generally refers to intense feelings of anxiety and depression that naturally follows traumatic events, like injury-causing motor vehicle accidents. Often, severe injuries, including traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, burn injuries, whiplash, fractures, and lower back injuries, trigger mental trauma. Mental trauma often slows down the healing process, greatly reduces quality of life, and increases the costs of recovery.

For many people, physical recovery does not reflect the mental scars that accompany them and can last a lifetime. Common symptoms of PTSD and other post-accident mental injuries include:

  • Reliving the Event: This often includes feelings of sudden dread triggered by similar events that create memories of the accident. Someone who was hit while turning left at a traffic light might feel high anxiety while making left-hand turns at traffic lights.
  • Avoidance: Avoidance causes the victim to avoid people, places, or events that remind them of the traumatic event.
  • Hyperarousal: This makes the victim seem edgy and quick to become angry while also often making it more difficult to sleep and rest.
  • Emotional Numbness: This generally refers to a person’s apparent and sudden loss of interest in people, activities, and hobbies, such as spending time with family members and friends.

The side effects of PTSD and other mental trauma often lead to related behaviors, like excessive drinking and illegal drug use, in order to self-medicate. When that occurs, the potential impact on quality of life is especially great among an accident victim.

Which Injuries can Cause Mental Trauma?

catastrophic injury is a serious injury that leaves the victim with permanent damage. Having a catastrophic injury means that a person will suffer severe side effects and life changes. A person may not be able to walk again or loss a limb due to a car accident. Those who suffer such catastrophic bodily injuries also are more likely to suffer from PTSD and other mental trauma arising from car accidents.

Some catastrophic injuries that can cause mental trauma include:

  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Extensive and severe burn injuries
  • Amputations

It is important that car accident victims get the help and support they need to recover from mental injuries. A car accident victim should seek immediate medical attention after a collision. It is also advisable for a car accident victim to speak to a lawyer.

Does Mental Trauma Affect the Healing Process?

With catastrophic injuries posing a major issue for survivors of motor vehicle accidents, mental trauma is a natural extension of those bodily injuries. Mental trauma can even affect the body’s ability to recover from injuries and the victim’s quality of life. Accident victims suffering from traumatic brain injuries or spinal cord injuries generally experience much higher rates of anxiety and depression than people who were not in motor vehicle accidents. They also feel greater levels of pain, fatigue, and discomfort that greatly reduces their quality of life.

Since mental trauma and severe bodily injuries often accompany one another, the ability to recover from injuries is compromised. The elevated amounts of mental trauma and distress that some accident survivors experience can greatly slow the healing process.

Mental trauma can affect a car accident victim’s ability to recover and lead a relatively normal life. Quality of life often depreciates significantly due to anxiety, depression, and other mental health effects. A lawyer can help with the recovery process by protecting the victim’s rights and fighting for them to get the compensation that they are entitled to.

Delaware Car Accident Lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow Help Those Suffering From Mental Trauma After Severe Collisions

A car accident can lead to severe mental injuries. If you need help after a collision, speak to an experienced Delaware car accident lawyer at Rhoades & Morrow. Our legal team understands that car accidents cause mental trauma, and we are here to help you recover. Complete our online form or call us at (302) 427-9500 for a free consultation. We have offices located in Wilmington, Bear, and Milford, Delaware, and we serve clients throughout Middletown, Dover, Milford, Lewes, Rehoboth, Elsmere, and Seaford.


Delaware Injury Lawyers

R & M Lawyers
Rhoades & Morrow

Our attorneys provide exceptional legal service with a personal touch. Since our founding in 1990, we have helped thousands of Delaware citizens obtain full and just compensation for personal injury claims. We have gained an excellent reputation as the “go to” law firm. Let us put our decades of experience to work for you.

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