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Seeking compensation for PTSD in car accident lawsuits

On Behalf of | Apr 25, 2017 | Car Accidents

Iowa residents may pursue civil remedies when they have been harmed in automobile accidents caused by the negligent actions of others. Damages are generally awarded in this type of litigation to cover the plaintiff’s medical expenses, lost income and property damage, but car accident victims may also seek compensation for emotional or psychological injuries such as mental anguish or post-traumatic stress disorder.

However, car accident victims must overcome a number of challenges if such a claim is to be successful. The first hurdle is the often nebulous nature of emotional and psychological injuries. While physical injuries like broken bones may be obvious to juries or easy to prove with X-rays or other medical evidence, PTSD sufferers can appear to be uninjured and quite healthy.

Juries can also be confused by conflicting testimony from expert witnesses, and the defendants in civil lawsuits may claim that plaintiffs are exaggerating their symptoms or their mental health issues existed long before the accident in question occurred. Juries may be swayed by these arguments if the accident was minor and caused no serious physical injuries. Another challenge facing PTSD sufferers is that the condition is sometimes not diagnosed until quite some time after traumatic events have occurred. This is a problem because civil plaintiffs are not able to reopen car accident lawsuits after they have been resolved.

Experienced personal injury attorneys may seek to build empathy for their clients and prevent juries from becoming distracted or confused by complex medical testimony by reminding them of the day-to-day challenges faced by PTSD sufferers. Attorneys could also encourage their clients to meet with mental health professionals before litigation is initiated to make sure that they are not suffering from any undiagnosed psychological conditions. When conditions like PTSD are diagnosed, attorneys may consult with experts to ensure that they seek damages sufficient to cover the costs of long-term care and therapy.


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