Can a Motorcycle Accident Cause PTSD?

Friday, April 27, 2018

Can a Motorcycle Accident Cause PTSD?

Written by Malman Law, reviewed by Steve J. Malman.

Traffic accidents, including motorcycle accidents, happen daily in the United States. However, what one person experiences could be entirely different from another. Even in the same accident, one person could have a traumatic emotional response, while the other walk away emotionally unscathed. In some instances, the emotional trauma does not show up for days or even weeks, but that emotional scarring is so severe that it affects your everyday life.

For those with severe emotional trauma, they may be diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD is not diagnosed with normal emotional responses either, such as guilt, anger, or even minor depression following a motorcycle accident. Instead, it is reserved for those psychological symptoms that are so strong they impede your ability to live your life.

Chicago Motorcycle Victims Could Experience PTSD

One study found that PTSD is a severe psychological consequence associated with catastrophic motor vehicle accidents and motorcycle collisions. They found that PTSD was prevalent in instances where there was an actual or threatened death, severe injury, or a threat to a person’s body – leaving them disabled.

PTSD versus Normal Post-Accident Emotional Responses

What is important to realize here is that there are rational post-accident responses, and then there are the symptoms of PTSD. PTSD is much stronger, and the anxiety of it affects your quality of life. Typically, the post-traumatic response will fade over time, but when the feelings do not go away, or you notice them intensifying, you should seek immediate medical attention.

PTSD can change how you act, think, and interact with loved ones. The feelings are so strong that they get in the way of your everyday lifestyle. Some problems associated with PTSD include, but are not limited to:

  • Ongoing, general anxiety that is not relieved.
  • Anxiety about getting into the vehicle or driving a car.
  • Refusing to have medical tests or procedures performed.
  • Excess worry, unreasonable anger, and irritability.
  • A feeling that you are no longer connected to people who were not in the accident.
  • Memories, on-going nightmares, and constant hauntings of the accident.
  • Difficulty sleeping or suffering from severe insomnia.

PTSD Affects A Person’s Life

If you do have PTSD after a motorcycle accident, it will impact your life rather significantly. Motorcycle accident victims could:

  • Re-experience the crash in their head. The accident might have happened weeks or months ago, but it feels as though it was yesterday. You may have flashbacks, nightmares, or scary thoughts continuously during your recovery that makes you relive it over again.
  • Becoming hyper-aroused and stressed. Everything sets you off. You cannot have a conversation, hear a car drive by, or even go to the grocery store because you are on edge, stressed, and irritable. You have difficulty concentrating, eating, and you may be unable to sleep most nights.
  • You avoid situations. Anything that reminds you of the accident you now avoid, including vehicles, motorcycles, doctor’s offices, and more. You also lose interest in things you once loved, such as riding a motorcycle ever again.

The symptoms of PTSD affect you the rest of your life if you do not seek treatment. They could affect your ability to work, interact with family and friends, or even receive medical care.

Life after Motorcycle Accidents and PTSD

Luckily, PTSD is not an uncommon occurrence. Therefore, you have multiple options for coping with your PTSD and the feelings that come after a catastrophic accident. Some ways you can learn to deal include:

  • Talking: Sometimes just meeting with a counselor and talking about the accident will help. Talk about your feelings, including what you are afraid of, how you feel, and what you experienced before, during and after the incident.
  • Activity: Staying active may help counteract the debilitating nature of PTSD. Try to exercise, get outside, and do physical therapy to help you recover from your injuries faster. Your family doctor will tell you what you can do safely with your injuries.
  • Follow Up: Medically speaking, you need to keep up with appointments, go to your doctor’s office, and take medications prescribed to you. All of these are designed to help you recover quickly. Ignoring doctor’s orders or failing to follow up not only delays your recovery but could make it harder to receive compensation if you file a claim.
  • Try to Resume Normal Activities: When your injuries allow you to do so, resume normal day-to-day activities, including your schedule of getting up in the morning, helping your kids, going to work (if able), and social activities you once did before the accident.
  • Medications: Your physician may prescribe medications to help manage your PTSD. These medications are there so that you can push through the anxiety and cope. Many patients take depression or anti-anxiety medications and eventually are taken off them once they recover. Even if you take them the rest of your life, they ensure that PTSD does not affect your quality of life.

Can You File a Lawsuit for PTSD Following a Motorcycle Accident?

If someone’s recklessness, purposeful acts, or negligence caused your motorcycle accident and you developed PTSD as a result, you can file a lawsuit and seek damages. To establish that your PTSD came from the accident, your attorney will need to have expert witnesses testify about your condition and its onset, but also present your medical records and have you testified about the trauma you experienced.

Some of the items your attorney will need to convince the jury of include:

  • That you suffered a catastrophic injury which caused a psychological condition as a result.
  • That the traumatic motorcycle event is what triggered your emotional trauma.
  • That you should recover compensation for your treatment costs and any future damages that result from the injury and psychological trauma.

PTSD Claims and Emotional Distress

When your PTSD claim is genuine, you may also file a claim for emotional distress, which encompasses more than just the PTSD, but any emotional trauma you suffered.

In a motorcycle accident case, you are likely to file for a negligent infliction of emotional distress, which means the negligent or reckless acts of the defendant caused your injuries, and therefore the defendant is liable for the damages.

Proving Your Claim for PTSD

PTSD is a complicated psychological disorder, and you may have difficulty showing that your PTSD is legitimate or that it stems from the accident without the help of an attorney. Your attorney will need to hire expert witnesses, and they will play a critical role in bridging the gap between your diagnosis and the accident.

Why Hire an Expert Witness for Your Case?

When a legal issue goes beyond the average person’s comprehension, you need an expert witness to testify and explain how the issue raised and share their opinion on whether you genuinely suffer from that condition.

Most people do not understand PTSD. While they have heard of the term, they do not understand what causes it nor do they comprehend the impact it has on the rest of a person’s life. An expert witness is there to assess the situation for them, and they can share their opinion on your severity of PTSD, the cause, and prognosis. Realize that the defense too will have a witness, but their witness will be there to disprove your PTSD or downplay it.

The Difference Between Expert and Fact Witnesses

An expert witness is there to explain to the jury what the medical industry requires to diagnose a person with PTSD, and if you meet that diagnostic criterion. Furthermore, they will testify about any interviews they have had with you, what they see in your medical records and their conclusions about whether the motorcycle accident caused your PTSD.

A fact witness is not as in-depth. Instead, they may be there to provide additional testimony about symptoms they have witnessed themselves, how your PTSD affects you, and any insight they might have. A fact witness might be a spouse, family member, or friend who has daily interaction with you after the motorcycle accident.

Expert witnesses could be your treating physician, a psychologist, or another person that practices in a field that makes them qualified to assess and share an opinion on your PTSD.

Suffering from PTSD after a Motorcycle Accident? Contact an Injury Advocate

If you have PTSD following a severe motorcycle accident, you may be entitled to additional compensation for your emotional distress.

To see what compensation you have available to you, contact an attorney from Malman Law. Schedule a free consultation with our team today at (888) 625-6265 or request an appointment online. There is no obligation to meet with our attorneys, and you do not pay our team unless we secure compensation for your injuries.

Steve Malman

Malman Law’s founder Attorney Steven Malman has over 30 years of experience handling personal injury, nursing home, medical malpractice, truck accidents, car accidents, premises liability, construction, and workers’ compensation cases in Chicago, IL.

Years of experience: +30 years
Justia Profile: Steve Malman
Illinois Registration Status: Active and authorized to practice law—Last Registered Year: 2024

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This page has been written, edited, and reviewed by a team of legal writers following our comprehensive editorial guidelines. This page was approved by President and Founder, Steven J. Malman who has more than 20 years of legal experience as a personal injury attorney.

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