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Mental Trauma From Car Accidents

Champions for the Injured
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NST Law Attorneys Corey Trotz and Alex Saharovich
NST Law Attorney
National Law Firm with Local Roots

Mental trauma from a car accident can include post-traumatic stress disorder, emotional trauma from catastrophic injuries, depression, and anxiety. While it isn’t as apparent as physical trauma, it can be just as detrimental to your quality of life. If you’re experiencing mental trauma resulting from a car accident, you may qualify for pain and suffering compensation from the at-fault driver or your insurance company.

In the aftermath of a car accident, your first concern is ensuring your physical injuries are treated quickly. We know a broken bone can’t set on its own, and a deep cut won’t heal without stitches. Unfortunately, car accident injuries aren’t limited to the ones you can see. Mental trauma from car accidents can disrupt day-to-day life more than physical injuries, but you may overlook or dismiss them initially.

At NST Law, our car accident lawyers know that emotional trauma after a car accident is real. Just because it isn’t visible doesn’t mean it’s not impacting your life. For over 30 years, we’ve helped car accident victims like you maximize their settlements so they can focus on recovery and return to their lives.

Table Of Contents

Types of Mental Trauma After a Car Accident

Not everyone will have mental trauma after a car accident. The type of mental trauma you can experience depends on several factors, including:

  • Whether you were a driver or passenger 
  • Whether a loved one was seriously injured or died in the crash
  • The extent of your physical injuries and your recovery rate
  • Your history of depression and anxiety
  • The level of emotional support available to you
  • The extent of your coping skills

Unfortunately, unlike many physical car accident injuries, victims, doctors, and insurance companies often overlook mental trauma.

Emotional Trauma From Catastrophic Injuries

Recovery can be challenging if you have serious injuries from a car accident. Surgeries and other medical procedures can be traumatic, and your recovery may take months. Setbacks in recovery may make you feel angry, frustrated, or depressed. In addition, lost income from missed work and mounting medical bills can cause additional stress and anxiety. 

The emotional impact of your catastrophic injuries may not be felt immediately after your accident, so it’s important to talk with a car accident attorney. Because we’ve worked with others in the same situation, we can negotiate for appropriate pain and suffering damages so you can focus on recovery.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post-traumatic stress disorder is an anxiety disorder commonly associated with veterans. However, 25.7 percent of people involved in severe car accidents experience PTSD six months after the crash, making it one of the more common forms of mental trauma from car crashes.

Car crash PTSD presents in several ways:

  • Intrusive thoughts (both while awake and sleeping)
  • Avoidance of all reminders of the accident
  • Changes to your personality and cognitive function
  • Increased or uncontrollable reactivity

Talk to a medical professional if these changes persist for more than a month or interfere with your ability to work or participate in your daily life. PTSD treatments include medication and a wide range of therapies, but recovery is often ongoing and may be expensive since it cannot be resolved without professional treatment.


Seventeen percent of people involved in car accidents report experiencing depression after a car accident. Your odds of depression increase if you suffer a significant injury, the crash resulted in the loss or serious injury of a loved one, or if you feel you were responsible for the crash.

Living with depression can make it difficult for you to get out of bed in the morning, be present with your family, participate in social events, or even perform at work. Depression looks different for everyone, and there are a variety of treatment options, including medication and therapy. 


Anxiety after a car accident can be debilitating. You may be uncomfortable riding as a passenger after an accident or take different routes to avoid the accident site. In extreme cases, you may be unable to get in a car without experiencing intense flashbacks or devastating panic attacks.

Unless you live in a city with a well-developed public transit system, being too anxious to drive or ride in a car can have severe consequences, including the inability to leave your home or losing your job. 

If you’re experiencing anxiety after your car crash, speak with a professional immediately.

Photo of woman suffering from mental trauma after a car accident

Symptoms of Mental Trauma from a Car Accident

Mental trauma can be challenging to diagnose because it presents differently in each person. General symptoms of mental trauma include:

  • Intense feelings of shock, anger, nervousness, loneliness, embarrassment, uneasiness, guilt, hopelessness, or confusion
  • Disrupted sleep, including nightmares and insomnia
  • Mood swings, uncontrollable crying, and panic attacks
  • Emotional numbness
  • Increased stress and anxiety
  • Development of new fears
  • Disorientation
  • Difficulty reasoning, problem-solving, and communicating
  • Physical symptoms such as chronic fatigue, loss of appetite, or physical pain
  • Avoidance behaviors
  • Compulsive or obsessive behaviors
  • Loss of self-worth
  • Suicidal thoughts or self-harm

If you experience any of the above symptoms more than a month after your accident, or if you experience any to the point that it negatively impacts your ability to function, seek medical help. The sooner you address the symptoms, the easier recovery will be.

How To Mentally Recover After a Car Accident

Your trauma is less likely to impact your relationships, work performance, and overall ability to function if you seek help promptly.

A therapist for car accident trauma can work with you to create a treatment plan, which can include medication, relaxation techniques, and other therapies. You may also consider taking a defensive driving course to help you feel safer in your car after the accident. 

Document your experiences after the accident and throughout your recovery since insurance companies will want proof of your mental trauma. Record your symptoms, their severity and frequency, and how they impact your ability to live your life.

Call the Champs at NST Law

Recovering from the physical and mental trauma after a car crash is a challenging, frustrating, and sometimes lonely path. It can also be expensive as you balance medications, therapy sessions, and missed work.

Pain and suffering damages, whether paid by your insurance company or the at-fault driver, can offset the costs for your care and any work you’ve lost due to your mental trauma. We can calculate the non-economic damages and assign a dollar value that we will then aggressively pursue.

You shouldn’t have to fight with an insurance company when you should focus on healing. No matter what form of emotional trauma you are experiencing due to your crash, the car accident lawyers at NST can help. Our national firm of compassionate attorneys has recovered over $2 billion on behalf of victims like you. 

Contact us today for a free consultation. Your personal injury attorney will protect your rights and help you get the settlement you deserve.


Yes, as long as you can prove the emotional trauma has disrupted your life. A car accident attorney can help you sue an insurance provider in a no-fault accident or the at-fault driver.

Most car accident claims factor in only physical trauma because it is easily seen and documented. Unfortunately, insurance companies may pressure you into taking a settlement before you know the full impact of your emotional trauma or argue against non-economic damages such as pain and suffering.

A car accident lawyer can help you negotiate for coverage of future care, lost wages, medical treatments, and pain and suffering so you can focus on healing.

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Client Successes
Obtained in tractor-trailer accident case for a husband and wife that suffered traumatic injuries.
Recovered in car accident case against construction company in which our client suffered a traumatic brain injury.
Received for a woman injured in car accident while on the job, who sustained numerous fractures and underwent several surgeries.