You’ve probably heard about post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, but you might not clearly understand exactly what it means. That’s OK. PTSD is complicated and can be confusing, especially for those who experience it and the people around them.
In the context of lawsuits and litigation, people sometimes speak of PTSD dismissively. It can often be used describe psychological problems that have their basis in other things. Much of what we associate with PTSD is grounded in an old, outdated, and misguided stereotype about emotional injuries, which some people insist are not as serious – or are less “real” – than other injuries. The truth is that psychological trauma – PTSD included – is very real. It has a profound impact on the lives of those affected. For some, the experience of post-traumatic stress disorder can cause as much hardship and disruption as physical injuries. Of course, not every emotional response constitutes PTSD. We all feel sad, upset, angry, and confused after a difficult ordeal. We may shake, cry, tremble, or act out in anger. Some people even feel nauseous or otherwise ill. But PTSD is not a descriptive panacea for every traumatic psychological problem people experience.
PTSD vs. A Normal Emotional Response
The word “normal” is also problematic because, in truth, we all experience emotions in different ways. This is especially true after being involved in a rattling or injurious incident, and it’s important for all of us to understand what can distinguish a healthy emotional response from the more concerning experience of PTSD.
Common symptoms of PTSD include:
- Severe anxiety
- A sense of “re-experiencing” the emotions surrounding a traumatic event, often repeatedly
- Inability to control one’s thoughts about an event
- Taking extreme measures to avoid thinking about an event
- Numbing oneself (physically, socially, or emotionally)
- Using drugs or alcohol to numb those memories or feelings
- A constant feeling of being on “red alert”
- Frequent adrenaline rushes / activation of the “fight or flight” response
- Angry outbursts
- Difficulty concentrating
- Difficulty sleeping
- Negative emotions
- Being easily startled or frightened
- Increased fears or phobias (especially in children)
- Regressing to previous stages of maturity / development (especially in children)
Each of these symptoms in and of itself might be “normal” for a short time after any distressing event. The key difference in a PTSD diagnosis is that the symptoms last a long time or worsen over time. Some people can experience delayed PTSD, with the symptoms not appearing until weeks, months, or sometimes even years after the traumatic event. Remember: these are only some of the most common PTSD symptoms. Post-traumatic stress disorder is a highly individual experience and can be diagnosed only by an experienced healthcare professional.
PTSD in Children after a Vehicle Accident
Though there is little formal information on the topic, one published study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information in 2003 examined children’s long-term emotional reactions after a motor vehicle accident. Around nine months following their accidents, 50 children (and their parents) were interviewed regarding overall post-accident psychological functions. “Control” data, which included archival police report and emergency medical treatment records, was compared to the interview results, as were the PTSD questionnaires given during the post-accident interview sessions. Of the 50 children, seven of them (14 percent) met criteria for PTSD diagnosis, and another five (10 percent) met standards for specific phobias related to their automobile accidents. Researchers also found the degree of physical injury to the children who were diagnosed with PTSD was relative to the severity of their injuries. Generally, the more serious the injuries, the more severe their PTSD.
If you believe that you or your loved one may be experiencing PTSD, you should seek medical attention right away.
You Don’t Have to Have PTSD to Sue for Emotional Distress
While this page is focused primarily on post-traumatic stress disorder, it is important to note that legal relief is also available for other types of emotional injuries that arise from a traumatic accident. Even if you have not been diagnosed with PTSD, you may be able to seek compensation for your pain, anguish, or emotional distress under New York personal injury law. Our New York City PTSD lawyers can help you understand the differences, explain your rights, and possibly even refer you to psychological specialists who can help you. Please never assume you do not have a claim until you consult with an attorney. Our evaluations are available free of charge.
Suing for PTSD in New York: Guidance from our New York City PTSD Lawyers
PTSD is very real, and those who suffer from it because of someone else’s negligence are entitled to financial compensation. Most of the accidents that trigger PTSD are rooted in someone else’s negligent behavior. In those cases, Kaplan Lawyers PC is prepared to aggressively pursue every penny you are owed for your emotional injuries. We want to help. To take your next step, simply schedule a free consultation with our experienced New York City PTSD lawyers right away.