Each year, there are approximately 6 million car accidents in United States, and many of these accidents result in moderate to severe physical injuries. But what many people fail to realize is that these accidents can cause a lot of emotional trauma as well.
By nature, being involved in a collision is a traumatic event. The moment you feel the impact of the other vehicle or object you collide with it is usually accompanied by a sense of shock. Your mind begins racing, and your heartbeat accelerates as you try to process what just happened and what it all means.
Car accidents can leave you with numerous physical and emotional injuries, and many of these injuries are long-term.
- Physical Injury – Soon after an accident, the most important part of recovery is staying on top of your pain. Even minor car accidents can cause mind-blowing pain, so don’t be afraid to follow your doctor’s recommendations for pain management. On the same note, though, don’t stay immobile for too long. Generally, doctors want to see patients up and moving relatively soon after an accident. This prevents muscle loss and allows you to start improving blood flow to injured areas, which actually speeds up the healing process.
Of course, the path to recovery is quite different for those who suffer serious injuries. If your accident was severe enough to leave you paralyzed or trapped in a hospital bed, the best thing you can do is to follow your care team’s instructions to the letter. Serious injuries often require a cocktail of medications, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and ongoing range of motion exercises.
It’s difficult to repeat these mundane tasks when you’re hopeless and feel like they won’t do any good. But they truly do make a difference in the prognosis of your injury. Do not let your emotional struggles about your condition prevent you from doing what it takes to heal.
Car accidents are the leading cause of death among all Americans and Mississippi has a particularly high rate of death, the second in the nation behind Montana.
- Shock – As mentioned previously, the moment you collide with another vehicle, you are likely to feel some shock just based on the fact that this type of event has happened to you. And depending on the seriousness of the accident and severity of the injuries, the shock could go on for an extended period of time.
Post-traumatic shock is real, and the victim may be unable to turn off the realization of what has happened. Car accidents are a leading cause of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and according to the American Psychological Association, PTSD is reported in as many as one-third of all motor vehicle accidents.
- Guilt – Another way that vehicle accidents emotionally impact those involved is with feelings of guilt. Even if you were not at fault, or you only shared a small percentage of fault (say 5%) for the accident, many victims feel overwhelming guilt, especially if there were serious and debilitating injuries or loss of life. It is not uncommon to replay the event over and over in your head, thinking about what you could have done differently to avoid the collision.
Under Mississippi’s comparative negligence rule, your damage award will be reduced according to the degree of blame you share. For example, if you were speeding or distracted at the time of the accident, you may share in some of the blame. To what degree depends on the specific circumstances of the accident.
- Blame – The opposite of guilt is blame. And as you reflect more on the circumstances that caused the accident, it is easy to focus a lot of our emotions on the person or party who was at fault. Although what you are feeling toward those who caused the accident may be totally justified, the anger you may experience over what they did can also be emotionally damaging.
- Anxiety – As you think about how the accident happened and what it will cost you both physically and financially, it is very easy to get anxious about the future. You may be out of work and not know when (if ever) you will be able to get back on the job. On top of that, you may be dealing with severe physical pain day in and day out, not knowing when all this is going to end and when your life can get back to normal. You might also be reluctant to get behind the wheel of a car again for a while.
Non-Economic Damages and Personal Injury Claims
If you have been injured in an auto accident and it was someone else’s fault, you are entitled to compensation not only for direct monetary losses such as medical bills, lost earnings, and loss of earning capacity, but also for non-economic losses such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, and diminished quality of life.
The emotional impact of your car accident is something that should be taken into account when calculating your damage award. Some signs and symptoms of ongoing emotional trauma after a motor vehicle accident include:
- Moodiness and irritability;
- Loss of sleep;
- Frequent nightmares;
- Fluctuations in weight;
- Obsessive or compulsive behaviors;
- Tiredness and fatigue;
- Feeling overwhelmed;
- Social withdrawal.
So, how do you get the support you need during these trying times? First, you have to put your ego aside. Too many people miss out on the support they need because they do not want to burden their friends and family members. But for the most part, they do want to help. No one wants to watch a loved one struggle, especially if helping with laundry or delivering hot meals will help.
Beyond your loved ones, though, you may need professional assistance. This is particularly true if you have sustained severe injuries that leave you immobilized or paralyzed. While loved ones may be able to help you with some daily tasks, it’s likely you’ll need paid professional help for showering, medication administration, meal preparation, and other tasks.
Also in order to recover compensation for emotional trauma from an auto accident, the trauma and accompanying symptoms need to be well-documented. You should keep your own records of the symptoms you are experiencing and the frequency with which they are occurring. In addition, it is strongly advised that you see a medical provider to help ensure that you receive an accurate diagnosis of what specific emotional condition(s) you are experiencing, and to help you effectively deal with what you are going through.
Unlike economic damages (such as medical costs or lost wages), non-economic damages are more difficult to quantify. The state of Mississippi also places a cap of $1 million for non-economic damages in most personal injury cases. This is one of many reasons it is a good idea to at least talk with an experienced auto accident lawyer about your accident.
A lawyer can meet with you to thoroughly evaluate your case and provide advice on what types of damages (both economic and non-economic) you might be entitled to. This way, you can make the most informed decision about how you wish to proceed.
At Reeves and Mestayer, we invite you to contact us for a complimentary consultation and case assessment. Call us today at 228-374-5151 or message us through our online contact form. You may also stop by our Biloxi, MS office in person at your convenience.