Psychological Trauma After A Car Crash: Can I File A Claim?

A car accident may result in catastrophic injuries and even death, depending on the circumstances of the crash. Unfortunately, such tragic loss can also cause emotional and psychological trauma to injured victims or surviving families of deceased victims.

Suppose you are involved in a car accident caused by someone else’s negligence. In that case, you may file a car accident to receive compensation for the damages, such as medical bills, vehicle repair costs, and lost wages. However, not everyone knows that you can also include your psychological trauma due to the crash in your overall settlement.

While it is possible to add non-financial losses, such as psychological and emotional trauma, to your compensation, quantifying such damages may be challenging. This article will help you know when and how to include non-economic damages in your settlement.

Understanding Psychological Trauma In Car Accidents

Typically, insurance companies consider physical or tangible damages from a car accident, such as medical costs, property damage expenses, lost wages, burial expenses, and others. However, you must understand that you can also include non-financial losses, such as psychological trauma, in a car accident claim.

The question now is, when and how do you know you sustain psychological trauma due to a car accident? It may take some time to identify psychological trauma brought on by a car accident, and it varies from person to person. But some indicators that you might have experienced psychological trauma are as follows:

  • Intrusive memories: Individuals with PTSD or trauma may re-experience the traumatic incident through recurring memories, distressing dreams, or intense emotional or physical reactions triggered by reminders of the accident.
  • Avoidance: Those affected often go to great lengths to avoid anything associated with the traumatic event, including discussions about it or situations that remind them of it.
  • Mood and cognitive changes: Those with trauma may develop negative beliefs about themselves or others, struggle with memory function, encounter difficulties in maintaining relationships, experience feelings of detachment from loved ones, anticipate a bleak future, or lose interest in previously enjoyable activities. They may also find it challenging to experience positive emotions.
  • Altered physical or emotional responses: Many individuals with PTSD or trauma exhibit heightened fear responses, hypervigilance, sleep disturbances, difficulties with concentration, overwhelming feelings of guilt or shame, and may resort to self-destructive coping mechanisms such as substance abuse.

It is crucial to understand and acknowledge the symptoms of psychological trauma to treat it accordingly. If you experience such, therapies such as cognitive and exposure therapy, medications, and other rehabilitation can help you overcome such emotional damage from a crash.

Filing A Claim For Compensation For Psychological Trauma In Car Accidents 

In a car accident, the driver who acts negligently should pay for the damages. As such, you must have the necessary evidence to prove that your injuries and other damages resulted from the collision. In most cases, their insurance provider will try to resolve the situation quickly and offer a settlement covering the tangible damages of a crash.

Most people think they can only receive compensation for economic damages, such as medical bills, vehicle repair costs, and lost wages since they have documentation to prove such. However, even non-financial losses like psychological trauma or Post-traumatic Stress Disorder can also be included in a settlement.

For example, while you were going to work in Los Angeles, a drunk driver struck you. Unfortunately, the crash was so severe that it caused you to lose a leg. As a result, you no longer can enjoy the hobbies and activities you used to do, resulting in psychological trauma.

How, then, will you quantify non-economic losses to include them in the compensation?

Los Angeles car accident lawyers can use several methods to calculate the total damages of your car accident, including the psychological trauma you experienced.

  • The Multiplier Method: The multiplier method typically involves totaling the non-economic damages associated with quantifiable monetary values and then multiplying this sum by a designated factor, generally within the range of 1.5 to 5. The severity of the victim’s pain and injuries often determines the multiplier applied.
  • The Per Diem Method: The per diem, or daily rate, approach provides a means to determine the compensation individuals receive for their non-financial losses daily. Unlike the multiplier method, which involves multiplying economic damages by a factor, the per diem method assigns a specific monetary value to each day the injured party experiences pain and suffering due to the injury.
  • Comparative Analysis: To determine an appropriate cost for your claim, lawyers may examine similar cases that have established compensation amounts for non-economic losses.

These methods, along with others, are commonly employed by legal professionals and insurance adjusters in personal injury claims to facilitate negotiations and reach a fair and equitable compensation for non-economic damages, such as psychological trauma. The selection of a specific method often depends on the circumstances of the case and your needs.

Factors Influencing Claims For Psychological Trauma

When including psychological trauma in your settlement, several factors may influence how it is quantified.

Severity of the Accident and Resulting Injuries

The degree of the accident and the injuries sustained as a result have a significant impact on claims of psychological trauma. An accident that causes a severe impact, such as a collision between a truck and a vehicle, might have a higher chance of resulting in psychological trauma compared to a car accident, resulting in minor vehicle damages. Several types of auto crashes, such as high-speed crashes, rollovers, or collisions involving multiple vehicles, may result in more severe emotional distress.

Additionally, the degree of physical injury, such as spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, or disfigurement, can intensify psychological suffering and result in disorders including depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). For instance, you may experience psychological trauma if you lose a leg from a car accident compared to a victim who sustains minor lacerations and bruises from a collision. Overall, the mental health of people involved in accidents that result in serious injuries or fatalities can be significantly impacted.

Impact On Daily Functioning And Quality Of Life

Psychological trauma can take many different forms, including difficulties focusing, anger, disturbed sleep, and avoidance of locations or events connected to the disaster. Hence, these symptoms may negatively impact your quality of life if they make it challenging for you to work, interact with others, or enjoy the things you used to like.

For example, due to the psychological trauma from losing a leg due to a car accident, you can no longer ride any moving vehicle going to work. As a result, you lose your job, leaving you with no income to pay for your expenses.

Additionally, psychological trauma can cause strained relationships with friends, family, and coworkers, which exacerbates emotional discomfort and interferes with day-to-day functioning. You may lose interest in building relationships with other people since you lack the confidence to do so due to your disability.

Documentation Of Psychological Trauma

Psychological trauma documentation is a prerequisite for supporting claims in accident-related legal processes. Appropriate documentation acts as proof to justify the psychological impacts you endure after an accident. Without documentation, your lawyer might have a difficult time proving such damages.

For a thorough assessment of psychological symptoms, you may consult mental health specialists like psychologists or psychiatrists. These experts can determine the extent of trauma, identify any mental health issues, suggest the best course of action, and provide documentation for your psychological trauma.

You may also keep a notebook or diary in which you can note your feelings, ideas, and symptoms associated with psychological trauma. This documentation can provide a chronological record of your emotional experiences, including shifts in mood, sleep habits, and day-to-day functioning.

While psychological trauma and other non-financial losses can be included in your settlement, the following factors must be considered to determine the overall value of your damages. A car accident lawyer can also advise you on how to properly document such losses and add them to your settlement.


Following a car accident, psychological stress is a frequent occurrence that can have a significant negative influence on your health and quality of life. While physical injuries might be easier to acknowledge, an accident’s emotional and psychological impacts are just as real and vital to consider.

You can file a claim for the emotional distress and mental health effects of an accident by speaking with knowledgeable legal specialists, recording their symptoms and experiences, and getting the required medical and psychiatric care. If you have experienced psychological trauma, you can strive toward recovery and get the money you are entitled to start over in your life, provided you have the proper assistance and advocacy from an experienced car accident lawyer.

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