COVID-19 Notice: The Perecman Firm has returned to in-person operation in accordance with safety regulations set by New York State and CDC health officials. Our attorneys will continue to provide top-notch legal representation and are available to discuss your case in person, over the phone, via email or video.

Can a Car Accident Cause PTSD?

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that can develop after an individual has experienced or witnessed a major traumatic, stressful, or fear-inducing event. It can happen to anyone at any age. Women are likely to get PTSD more often than men.

One type of traumatic event that can increase a person’s risk of PTSD is the experience of a serious car accident. Each year over 3 million people are injured in motor vehicle accidents. Many of these individuals develop PTSD symptoms that can become chronic, especially if they were in an accident that required medical attention.

Traffic accidents are among the leading cause of post-traumatic stress disorder in recent years, said American Family Physician.

Individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder may experience disabling memories and anxiety related to the traumatic event. The onset of the PTSD may not even happen immediately after the accident. Signs of PTSD can start soon after a traumatic accident or be delayed for months after the triggering event, according to a study published in Professional Psychology: Research and Practice (Vol. 38(6), Dec 2007, 629-639).

An estimated 25 to 33 percent of survivors of serious car accidents develop PTSD symptoms at least 30 days after the incident, according to the study in Professional Psychology. Many other survivors of serious accidents develop PTSD-like reactions.

Traumatic situations that can that can lead to PTSD have certain common elements:

  • The accident was life threatening or perceived as a significant threat to the person’s life, regardless of actual injury.
  • The accident caused fatalities and-or led to an actual serious injury for the person
  • The accident caused intense fear, helplessness, or horror.

Several post-traumatic stress symptoms are frequently associated with vehicular accidents. These include

  • Re-experiencing the accident through incidents like flashbacks and distressing memories
  • Numbing of emotional responsiveness including feeling detached from others and uninterested in favorite activities.
  • Increased anxiety which may mean being constantly alert for danger, feeling on edge and easily startled.

If the car accident caused a death, the survivors may have additional PTSD issues, even if they were not responsible for the accident. These issues may include inflated perceptions of responsibility, protracted feelings of guilt, and survivor guilt.

Car accident-related PTSD can have significant effects on an individual’s quality of life.


No Fees Unless We Win Your Case

Call (212) 577-9325 for a Free Consultation

  • Please enter your first name.
  • Please enter your last name.
  • Please enter your phone number.
    This isn't a valid phone number.
  • Please enter your email address.
    This isn't a valid email address.
  • Please make a selection.
  • Please enter a message.