Approximately 858 motor vehicle collisions occur every day in Illinois. Fortunately the majority of accidents are not fatal and many do not result in catastrophic or chronic injuries, the psychological impact of even a minor car accident can be long-lasting.
The rate of anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and phobias after a car crash is higher than many people may realize. Even mild anxiety can make day-to-day life difficult, which is why the attorneys at Krzak Rundio Gorman, Injury Attorneys are dedicated to advocating for the rights of car accident victims in Illinois.
What Does Anxiety Feel Like?
Anxiety is a mental health disorder that centers around the fear of future concerns. It may be categorized as intense and persistent worries about everyday situations (such as driving) and can manifest in the following ways:
- Pounding heart or accelerated heart rate
- Feelings of restlessness or being on-edge
- Difficulty concentrating
- Headaches, stomachaches, and muscle aches that have no discernable cause
- Trouble controlling thoughts
- Sleep problems, especially trouble falling asleep or staying asleep
- Racing heartbeat
- Abdominal distress or nausea
- Tingling or numbness in extremities
- Feelings of being detached from yourself
- Fear of losing control of a situation
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
If you began experiencing any of the above symptoms after being involved in a car accident, schedule an appointment with a licensed mental health professional to be evaluated. Anxiety is highly treatable for most people, and early treatment can improve overall outcomes. The following mental health care providers can treat anxiety:
- Social workers
- Licensed counselors
If you experience chest pain or shortness of breath, call your doctor or go to the emergency room. Although these are both common symptoms of anxiety, they can also be signs of a more serious health condition, such as a heart attack.
Is Anxiety Common After a Car Accident?
Around 33% of all individuals involved in non-fatal car accidents suffer from some type of mental health issue as a result, including persistent anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and phobias. Although many victims recover from the psychological impact of a crash in a period of three to 12 months, others go on to live with long-term mental health implications.
Post-crash anxiety affects both drivers and passengers. Someone who is suffering from anxiety after a car accident may experience any or all of the symptoms discussed above, but will also experience fears more specifically related to driving or riding in a motor vehicle.
Traveling along the same road where an accident occurred may produce feelings of intense fear or dread, as can traveling at the same time of day, in similar weather events, or in areas that resemble the scene of the accident. Even seeing cars the same color, make, or model as the one that caused your accident can trigger anxiety.
Anxiety after a car accident can make it difficult to resume your normal life. Everything from work and school to engaging in hobbies and social activities may be impacted. If another person caused the accident that resulted in your anxiety, you may be owed compensation for any resulting damages you have suffered. Contact a car accident attorney from Krzak Rundio Gorman, Injury Attorneys to discuss whether your anxiety could be compensable in a personal injury lawsuit.
Could My Anxiety Actually Be PTSD?
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric disorder that typically occurs in people who have been involved in or witnessed a particularly traumatic or terrifying event. PTSD can occur in people who have never had any mental health problems before.
PTSD is debilitating and may affect every facet of a person’s life, including:
- Intrusive reoccurring thoughts about the accident
- Nightmares about the crash
- Avoidant behavior
- Fear of undergoing related medical procedures or tests
PTSD does not go away on its own. If you believe you may be suffering from PTSD, schedule an appointment with a psychologist or psychiatrist. These are licensed professionals that have the capacity and licensure to diagnose mental health disorders and can provide necessary treatment appropriate for your condition.
Cognitive therapy and exposure therapy are both effective forms of treatment for PTSD. Depending on your situation, prescription medications can support the progress you are making in therapy. Always defer to your mental health provider’s expertise when looking at treatment options, and report any new or worsening symptoms when starting new medications or therapies.
After you’ve met with a licensed health care professional, your next step after being diagnosed with PTSD from a car accident is to schedule a free consultation with one of our car accident attorneys.
Is My Fear of Driving a Phobia?
Being in a car accident may also trigger a phobia, which is a persistent, irrational, and uncontrollable fear of a situation, object, or activity. Phobias that can occur after being involved in a car accident are:
- Hamaxophobia – the fear of being in or riding in a vehicle
- Amaxophobia – the fear of driving a vehicle
Phobias can range from mild to severe, but intense symptoms may prevent you from being able to travel for work, errands, and more:
- Persistent and excessive feelings of panic related to being in a car
- Avoiding any activities that require you to travel by car, truck, bus, train, or plane
- Confusion and disorientation when required to be in a vehicle
- Difficulty breathing and shortness of breath
- Chest pain or tightness
Only a licensed health care provider can differentiate between anxiety, PTSD, and phobias. If you experience any feelings of fear, dread, panic, sweaty palms, intrusive thoughts, or other indications that you may be dealing with a mental health issue after a car accident, seek an evaluation as soon as possible. If you are experiencing acute mental health problems or a mental health emergency, go directly to the emergency room.
When Will My Fears About My Car Accident Go Away?
Every person’s anxiety is different, and there is no timeline that anyone can provide that will guarantee when you will begin to feel like yourself again. The most effective way to treat your post-accident anxiety, PTSD, or phobia is to meet with a mental health professional, create a treatment plan, and stick to it as closely as possible.
Do not compare yourself to others. Your mental health journey will be unique to your situation. However, you can check in with your provider from time to time to ask their opinion on how you are progressing and whether you are meeting your treatment plan’s goals.
Can I Be Compensated for Anxiety After a Car Accident?
Compensation for car accident damages falls into three main categories: economic damages, non-economic damages, and punitive damages. Punitive damages are exceptionally rare in car accident cases, and your attorney will advise you if they apply in your case. The remaining economic and non-economic damages are how you can be compensated for anxiety after a car accident.
Economic damages refer to calculable financial losses, which in terms of your anxiety may be related to:
- Psychiatrist and psychologist bills
- Prescription medications
- Public transportation or the cost of taxis or rideshare services if you are unable to drive
- Lost income if you cannot commute to work
- Reduced income if you have to transition to a lower-paying job that is closer to home
Non-economic damages compensate you for non-financial losses that, although they do not have a financial component, still drastically impacted your life:
- Mental anguish
- Psychological distress
- Loss of enjoyment in life
- Loss of a normal life
Calculating the financial and non-financial losses you have suffered as a result of your car accident can be challenging, especially for those who are dealing with anxiety, PTSD, or a driving-related phobia. We advise that you work closely with a knowledgeable lawyer who has experience valuing the worth of complex car accident cases.
Krzak Rundio Gorman, Injury Attorneys Is a Fierce Advocate
The lawyers at Krzak Rundio Gorman, Injury Attorneys have dedicated their professional careers to advocating for injury victims in Chicago, IL. If you suffered physical injuries, anxiety, vehicle damage, or any other serious issue related to a motor vehicle collision, contact us today to learn about your legal options for recovering compensation in a personal injury claim.
We offer free consultations to car accident victims. During your case evaluation, you’ll have the opportunity to discuss your situation and we will give you advice on what legal options you may have. Call our Chicago office or fill out our convenient online form today to learn more.