Can a Car Accident Cause PTSD?

A serious accident can cause PTSD or post-traumatic stress disorder. However, proving someone suffered a mental trauma due to the collision is more difficult than someone dealing with physical injuries.

The truth is that for the general population, severe car accidents are one of the primary triggers.

A Pittsburgh personal injury attorney at our firm will investigate your case and help you receive the compensation you deserve for your injuries. Our experienced attorneys have recovered over $1 billion in settlements and verdicts for injured clients.


PTSD is best known as a condition afflicting soldiers deployed in war zones, but in reality, it can affect anyone who has been involved in or witnessed a traumatic event. Certainly, a car crash involving fatalities or terrible injuries can cause psychological trauma in a victim or a witness.

Car accidents and PTSD

After a car accident, it is normal to think about it a great deal in the following weeks—while reliving it over and over– and developing anxiety or depression is very common.

However, most people find that these feelings lessen over time, and they can return to a more normal life and activities. For those with PTSD, these feelings get worse, and they are not able to function normally.

Whether a person felt their life was in danger at the time of the accident has a great bearing on whether they are vulnerable to developing PTSD. This is an even larger factor than accident severity.

Those with PTSD may no longer have the ability to hold a job, care for their family, or otherwise participate in their daily life. Without treatment, it can last for years.

PTSD symptoms

The following are common in people with PTSD:

  • Insomnia
  • Intense fears
  • Hyperarousal
  • Nightmares
  • Panic attacks
  • Personality changes
  • Reckless behavior
  • Substance abuse to self-medicate
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Withdrawal

Many people living with PTSD will go to great lengths to avoid anything that reminds them of the accident. This may extend well beyond not wanting to go anywhere near the accident scene— it may also include not wanting to drive or ride in a car because they are afraid of crashing.

Insurance companies and PTSD

Proving that a person developed PTSD because of a car accident– to an insurance company is complex. First, a person must exhibit PTSD symptoms for at least a month before a doctor will make that a diagnosis.

Some people do not develop symptoms for months. However, insurance companies will do their best to show there is no connection between the diagnosis and the accident.

To obtain compensation for PTSD after a car accident, the person must receive a professional diagnosis, preferably from a psychiatrist or psychologist. The victim must also prove that the car accident is the event causing the condition.

A Pittsburgh personal injury lawyer at our firm will work hard to establish the connection between the PTSD diagnosis and the accident. We are familiar with how insurance companies and defense attorneys will try to keep a person with PTSD from obtaining a fair settlement and will fight them aggressively.

Contact us at Chaffin Luhana today

If you or a loved one are dealing with PTSD after a motor vehicle accident, a compassionate Pittsburgh car accident lawyer can help during this difficult time. We will evaluate your case and let you know your options.

Arrange a free consultation by calling, texting, or filling out our online form. Because we work on a contingency basis, there is no fee unless we win.