car accidents

Post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD. It is defined as the result of one experiencing a traumatic event such as a high-speed crash, an explosion, a battle, or an accident.

PTSD is real and it can affect anyone regardless of their status in life, their wealth, their age, their sex, or their level of confidence. The victim is unable to turn off the anxiety, the fear, and the fight – or – flight reaction to the traumatic event.

It is not a sign of weakness, but a natural human reaction to a traumatic situation. Originally, PTSD was known as “shell shock” when identified among soldiers returning home from World War I.

We often hear of PTSD in association with veterans returning from the field who have witnessed gruesome death and destruction, but according to the published literature, individuals involved in a serious car crash are also at an increased risk for PTSD.

PTSD and Car Accidents are Real

Car accidents are a leading cause of PTSD, according to the American Psychological Association. The last seconds as you see the other car approaching, the impact you feel, the crunch of metal, or screams of those involved – this is likely an experience you will never forget. 

Annually, nearly 42,000 Americans die as a result of a motor vehicle accident. In Alabama, a traffic crash was reported every 200 seconds in 2017, which translates to almost 160,000 vehicle crashes.

From two dozen published studies, about 25% to 33% of motor vehicle survivors can experience PTSD.

Nationwide, it’s conservatively estimated that PTSD may affect 2.5 to 7 million people who have survived a traumatic accident, making this a significant public health issue.

Several behavioral changes can occur as a result:

  • The victim may be afraid to drive again fearing recurrence of the event.

  • A numbing emotional response and feeling of being detached from others, which may include hopelessness and depression. This can turn into avoidance and development of social phobias, anxiety, and panic.

  • Increased irritability, paranoia, an inability to focus, and disturbed sleep.

  • Mood disturbances have been noted among more than half with of PTSD that includes depression among 41% of the sample tested.  

  • In one sample, men and women with PTSD were up to 5 times more likely to have a substance abuse disorder.

  • Chronic pain seems to be a defining characteristic of PTSD resulting from a motor vehicle accident. One study found 69% of the sample reported chronic pain attributed to their accident which then led to limitations and impairment in their lifestyle.

  • In another study of motor vehicle accident survivors with chronic headache and pain, there was a 50% prevalence rate for PTSD. Maladaptive pain coping strategies are associated with PTSD.

A Lifetime of Trauma

A motor vehicle accident can be the most frightening experience of one’s life. In many cases, the victim never forgets. He or she may relive the final moments before the crash and may have dreams reliving the actual crash.

If you have not been screened for PTSD, we would encourage you to explore the PTSD Checklist.

How does this translate to personal injury recovery?

We at the Cochran Firm would encourage you to take seriously the manifestations of PTSD in your life. Are you afraid of crowds? Do you have bad dreams? Do you avoid people? You may be an undiagnosed sufferer and we would like you to seek treatment so you do not experience a lifetime of PTSD.


These manifestations may be included in a claim for pain and suffering following a car accident.

We do not want you to settle your auto accident case until we have identified all of your resulting injuries, including PTSD. The scars may have healed, but your PTSD will not unless you seek treatment!

Please be mindful that a wrongful death case or personal injury action must be filed within Alabama’s two-year statute of limitation (SOL) or you forever lose your right to seek compensation from the at-fault party.

Contact the experienced motor vehicle accident attorneys at the Cochran Firm so we can go to work for you, fight for your rights, and obtain the maximum compensation you deserve. Please call our Birmingham office at 205 994-8555 or 1-800-The Firm.  

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *