How Does Mental Trauma Affect Victims After a Car Crash

Posted on behalf of Jeff Pitman on September 11, 2023 in Car Accidents
Updated on April 24, 2024

photo illustr. upset husband being comforted by wifeAfter a traffic accident, we often think about the physical damage victims may experience. However, many car crash survivors may also have intense mental effects after this experience. Victims may suffer in silence and not really know what is causing their symptoms.

PKSD Law Firm talks about the mental trauma crash victims may suffer as the result of a Wisconsin car crash, including the symptoms and treatment that may help.

If you suffered physical trauma and PTSD or other mental health damage after a car crash, you may be eligible to recover compensation for your medical costs and other losses. Our auto accident lawyers in Milwaukee have extensive experience handling even complicated car crash claims.

Call to request a free case review today. 414-333-3333

What Mental Effects Could Result From a Car Crash?

Beyond the visible injuries, car crashes can result in various emotional and psychological effects. The mental effects of car crashes often include the following:

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is very common after a car crash. The sudden and traumatic nature of being in an accident can cause victims to experience extreme fear and helplessness, which are hallmark symptoms of PTSD. These individuals may suffer from recurring nightmares, flashbacks, and heightened anxiety. PTSD is significantly disruptive to these victims’ daily lives. Seeking professional help, like therapy or counseling, is essential to manage and overcome PTSD.

Anxiety and Depression

Car accidents can trigger the onset of anxiety and depression, even if they don’t result in PTSD. The shock, pain, and upheaval brought on by a crash can leave survivors feeling vulnerable. Anxiety may manifest as constant worry about driving or even riding in vehicles. Depression can lead to social withdrawal, loss of interest in favorite activities, and persistent sadness. Recognizing and seeking help for these conditions is crucial, as they can significantly impact one’s quality of life.

Phobias and Avoidance Behaviors

Survivors often develop driving-related phobias or avoidance behaviors following car accidents. These phobias can extend to specific situations like driving on highways or intersections or even riding in a car as a passenger. As a result, individuals may go to great lengths to avoid these triggers. Mental trauma after a car crash can significantly limit a crash victim’s freedom and mobility. Behavioral therapy and exposure therapy are effective approaches for tackling such phobias and avoidance behaviors.

Survivor’s Guilt and Emotional Distress

In the unfortunate event of injury or loss of a loved one in a car crash, survivors may struggle with overwhelming guilt, grief, and emotional distress. Survivor’s guilt can lead to self-blame and a sense of unfairness. It is vital for those experiencing these emotions to seek support from friends, family, or therapists to process their feelings and begin the healing journey.

Common Symptoms Crash Victims With Mental Trauma May Have

The mental trauma resulting from a traffic accident can be overwhelming to deal with. Crash victims suffering from these mental health challenges are unlikely to recover without some sort of treatment. Dealing with mental trauma after a crash is as crucial as treating physical injuries.

What Treatment Could Help Victims With Mental Trauma After a Crash?

Treatment options for individuals suffering from mental trauma, such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), following a car crash typically involve a combination of therapeutic approaches and, in some cases, medication. Here are some common treatment modalities:

Individual Psychotherapy

Various types of counseling and therapies can help individuals identify and change negative thought patterns associated with trauma, such as

  • Cognitive-Behavioral therapy
  • Exposure therapy
  • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing


Antidepressants and/or anti-anxiety drugs may be prescribed as part of an overall approach to helping a crash victim manage and address their trauma and begin to move forward.

There are other types of therapy available as well, including group therapy, peer therapy, supportive therapy and more. Treatment plans should always be tailored to the individual’s specific needs and preferences. It is also important to consult with mental health professionals to determine the most appropriate treatment plan. Early intervention and consistent support play a key part in helping car crash victims recover from mental trauma and improve their overall quality of life.

Can I Seek Compensation for Damages Related to My Mental Trauma?

Typically, you can include mental health trauma as part of your overall car crash claim. However, you will need to prove these damages exist and that they were due to the negligence of the other driver. Proving mental health trauma after a car crash is extremely challenging because the injuries are not visible. However, this is why you should consider seeking legal help. Experienced attorneys know what evidence is needed to help prove mental trauma as part of your car crash injury case.

What Kind of Evidence Can Help to Prove Mental Trauma After a Crash?

In a legal case involving mental trauma, such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) following a car crash, various forms of evidence can be vital to helping you establish the presence and impact of the trauma, including:

  • The injured crash victim’s medical records: Seeking medical treatment from the day of your car accident is key to building solid evidence. All of your visits are recorded in your medical records. These records provide solid evidence of your diagnoses and treatment history. It is also vital that are completely up front when discussing your injuries and symptoms with your doctor. This includes both physical and emotional/mental trauma symptoms, such as depression, anxiety, being unable to sleep and more.
  • Witness statements: Any bystanders who observed the accident and the moments before or after can attest to the emotional distress you experienced.
  • Friends/family/co-workers: These individuals spend the most time with you and will be able to attest to things like behavioral changes, panic attacks, withdrawal from social activities, being unable to make decisions, not eating/loss of appetite and other mood or personality changes.
  • Evidence of mental health counseling/therapy: This could include a note from your treating doctor and prescriptions for the medication you are taking.
  • The crash victim’s own testimony and personal journal entries: As the crash victim your own evidence can help to provide a powerful firsthand account of your emotional and psychological suffering. A pain journal, which is not a diary, can help to document daily flashbacks, anxiety, panic attacks and how they are impacting your daily life.
  • A medical expert: While not needed for every case, your attorney may consult with a medical expert to provide medical testimony about your diagnosis, and how it impacts your life.

This evidence helps to build a strong and comprehensive case for the presence of mental trauma resulting from the car crash.

Call PKSD for Legal Help After a Car Crash

Our trusted law firm has been representing injured victims for decades, including those injured in a crash caused by negligent drivers. If you suffered injuries, mental trauma and other damages, we have the staff and resources to help you recover the full and fair compensation you need.

Not sure if you have a case? This is why we offer a free case review to discuss your situation. No cost. No risk. If we represent you, there are also no fees to pay to get started or throughout the legal process. We only get paid if you do.

Contact our experienced lawyers today.  414-333-3333

Back to top