How to Sue for PTSD
Think about the last time you heard an ad on the radio or TV for a personal injury attorney. How often have you heard the phrase “pain and suffering” included in the kinds of damages an attorney can recover for victims? Pain and suffering can refer to both emotional and physical injuries suffered by victims due to someone else’s negligence or deliberately harmful actions.
Physical pain and suffering can be easier to validate in a legal case since it often comes from physical injuries that can be medically documented. Emotional pain and suffering cause mental and psychological distress that is not often visible. For instance, emotional trauma from a car accident triggers a panic attack any time a victim must get into a car. The effects of this kind of emotional anguish can be long-lasting and negatively impact a person’s overall quality of life.
What is PTSD?
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a type of emotional pain and suffering. Symptoms of PTSD include debilitating anxiety, flashbacks, and nightmares. Most victims who survive traumatic events have difficulty adjusting and coping. For most, the struggle is short-term, and they eventually work through it to regain normal functioning. With PTSD, the side effects can linger for months or years and interfere with daily living.
Symptoms of PTSD usually begin a month after a traumatic event. PTSD is classified into four types: avoidance, changes in physical and emotional reactions to stimuli, intrusive memories, and negative changes in mood and thinking. Some of the most common symptoms of PTSD include:
- Angry outbursts or aggressive behavior.
- Difficulty concentrating.
- Easily startled or alarmed.
- Trouble sleeping.
People suffering from PTSD can re-experience the trauma and find themselves triggered emotionally by activities, people, and places that remind them of the traumatic event.
Does PTSD count as a personal injury?
Yes, absolutely. Most personal injury attorneys include PTSD in an emotional distress claim as part of a personal injury lawsuit. When a victim suffers psychological injuries brought on by physical injury or a traumatic event, an experienced personal injury attorney can evaluate the situation and seek guidance from a psychologist who can support the claim of emotional injury. Any costs you incur for the diagnosis and treatment of your PTSD can be included in your request for damages in your personal injury claim.
What types of accidents cause PTSD?
In New Mexico, the number one cause of PTSD in the general population is car wrecks. With traffic crashes on the rise in New Mexico, it increases the likelihood that more people will explore suing for PTSD as part of a personal injury claim. Other accidents that can cause PTSD include:
- Falling from a significant height.
- Injuries from a faulty product.
- Medical malpractice.
- Nursing home abuse or negligence.
Any accident has the potential to leave victims with PTSD. The more serious your accident or injury, the more extensive the emotional trauma.
How do you prove PTSD?
Proving PTSD is more complicated than confirming a physical injury. The first thing you will need is an official diagnosis of PTSD from a qualified medical professional. Psychologists and psychiatrists can evaluate victims and provide supporting documentation of PTSD. Your attorney may call on the doctor who provided the diagnosis to testify to the fact in court if your case is not settled. Expert witnesses must do more than simply state a victim has PTSD. They must provide supporting evidence of their diagnosis. Since emotional trauma is subjective and some people are not convinced it is real, your expert witnesses must be compelling and convincing if called to testify before a jury.
Eyewitnesses to a victim’s suffering with PTSD symptoms also can provide testimony in the case. They can recount instances when you have displayed signs of PTSD and how it has affected your quality of life.
Can you receive monetary compensation for PTSD?
PTSD is considered mental trauma in a personal injury lawsuit. As such, you can receive compensation for this form of suffering. If your case is not settled out of court, you can expect a jury to use these factors when calculating damages for PTSD.
- Lost wages or decreased earning capacity. If a medical professional testifies that PTSD has decreased your ability to work, those lost wages will be calculated into your total compensation.
- Pain and suffering. Some juries use a multiplier method while others prefer a per diem method. The multiplier method uses the total sum of all medical expenses and multiples it by 1.5 to 5 percent. Per diem methods calculate damages using a “by the day” rate that incorporates a person’s daily wage earnings and multiplies it by the number of anticipated days of pain and suffering from PTSD.
- Severity of injuries. PTSD causes lasting physical and psychological issues that require ongoing medical care. A jury looks at the perceived cost of treating your PTSD and factors that into an award.
- Punitive damages. Especially egregious or malicious acts of carelessness or negligence can elicit punitive damages from a jury to punish the plaintiff for their actions.
Pursuing a PTSD claim in New Mexico
PTSD is real and it affects more personal injury victims than most realize. If you suspect you suffer from PTSD after an accident or injury, the experienced and caring attorneys at Atkinson Law Firm can help. Scott Atkinson is the leading personal injury attorney in Albuquerque, NM. His excellent track record of representing personal injury victims makes him a good choice when pursuing your PTSD case. Call 505-944-1050 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation.