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The Psychological Impact of Being in a Car Accident

Car accidents can be traumatic events and have severe effects on your overall well-being. Often victims of car accidents suffer physical injuries and experience financial hardship due to medical bills and time off of work. While physical injuries are the most common after a car accident, victims can also suffer psychologically.  An Austin car accident lawyer from FVF can help you during this difficult time.

Whether the accident is minor or severe, it can have a significant psychological impact on the involved parties. After the crash, victims of car accidents can experience emotional distress in the forms of anxiety, stress, and other mental health conditions for weeks, months, or even years.

In Texas, car accident victims who suffer from emotional distress after a car accident may file for compensation for negligent infliction of emotional distress (NIED). This means that the at-fault party did not have to purposefully inflict emotional distress to be held liable for NIED.

Symptoms of Emotional Distress

Emotional distress may manifest in many forms, victims can show multiple symptoms. Common symptoms of emotional distress may include:


Emotional reactions to car accidents may cause mild fear of driving in car accident victims. This symptom can last for weeks, months, years, or longer, depending on the individual. In adults, the mere thought of driving may inflict:

  • Intense feelings of anxiety
  • Physical discomfort
  • Flashbacks
  • Nightmares
  • Blackouts
  • Psychological suffering
  • And more

Children experiencing anxiety related to driving and being in the car may experience:

  • Nightmares
  • mood swings
  • poor academic performance
  • Regression
  • Bedwetting
  • And more

The impact of severe driving anxiety after a crash may make it difficult for the individual to resume normal activities such as getting to work, running errands, and participating in hobbies.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

According to the National Institute of Health National Library of Medicine, individuals involved in serious car accidents are at an increased risk for experiencing PTSD, among other psychological problems. Because car accidents can be extremely traumatic, victims may have feelings of anxiety, panic, and stress that cause them to continue suffering, even after the accident is over.

Car accident survivors suffering from PTSD may experience:

  • Intrusive memories
  • Severe anxiety
  • Altered physical and emotional responses
  • Depressive mood swings
  • Flashbacks of the accident
  • Nightmares of the accident
  • Easily startled
  • Detachment from loved ones and interests
  • Depression
  • Aggression
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Feeling hopelessness
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • And more

How Do I Prove Psychological Impacts When Filing A Claim?

If you decide to file a claim for compensation after the accident and want to request compensation for psychological damages, you will need to provide adequate proof. Mental and emotional impacts from a car accident are labeled as “non-economic” damages in the eyes of the court and can be more difficult to prove. For the best chance at obtaining compensation, you should:

  • Document your symptoms – keep a journal that details your emotional state and how it impacts your day-to-day life
  • Seek a professional evaluation and treatment– get assessed by a mental health professional to diagnose the conditions you are experiencing as a result of the accident, and continue to receive mental health treatment for the conditions

Contact an attorney– while not necessary, it may be helpful to obtain the help of an experienced personal injury attorney.  Contact FVF Law Firm for a free, no-obligation case consultation. Our Austin personal injury attorneys have over 100 years of combined experience. We can help you understand the complexities of your case and teach you how to protect your rights during this difficult time.


Fogelman & Von Flatern is a personal injury law firm that believes it matters why we practice law: to make sure good people in unfair circumstances who want reasonable options are taken seriously, especially by their attorney. We value transparency, compassion, and justice, and we strive to embody that in our practice. At FVF, you can trust that you've got the best people on your case, for the right reasons.

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