Can You Recover Compensation for PTSD After a Car Accident?

by Gina Corena

Last Updated on September 25,2023

Can You Recover Compensation for PTSD After a Car Accident?

Life can change so much in a year. Take the case of Damon Arnette—a football player from Texas. Arnette was a standout collegiate cornerback at Ohio State and was drafted into the NFL by the Las Vegas Raiders in the spring of 2020.

In the fall of 2020, at about 7:30 am on October 14, he was running late for a team meeting in Henderson, Nevada when he almost missed the entrance to Raiders headquarters. Arnette’s car was moving at more than 60 mph when he swerved to make the turn, slamming into another car.

The cars collided violently, causing enough damage to leave the vehicles undrivable. The woman driving the other car suffered head trauma and neck injuries, back injuries, and shoulder injuries. Arnette rushed away from the scene of the accident to make his team meeting. He left a friend behind to either take responsibility for the accident or relate Arnette’s information to the authorities (depending on who you ask).

Since the crash, Arnette has been embroiled in two lawsuits and inflammatory media. One is the result of his actions during and after the accident. The second lawsuit arose after he allegedly belittled and spat on a valet at a Las Vegas hotel and casino during an argument over Arnette’s car. After that incident, a video appeared on his social media showing Arnette holding a semi-automatic rifle while threatening to kill someone off camera.

The first-round draft pick was released by the Las Vegas Raiders, but Arnette went on to sign contracts with the Miami Dolphins in 2021. Currently, he is a member of the Kansas City Chiefs.

According to the lawsuit filed by the woman Arnette crashed into (she chose not to divulge her name to the media), she is seeking almost $100,000 in damages. She still endures neck and back pain. In addition, she struggles with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), resulting in depression and panic attacks because of the crash.

Identifying PTSD After a Crash

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than five million car crashes were reported to the police in the United States in 2020. Approximately 43% of these car crashes result in treated injuries. This equals about four injuries per minute in America

These numbers were down from other non-pandemic years. On average, the U.S. sees an estimated six million vehicle crashes resulting in between two-and-three million injuries.

During and in the immediate days following a crash, many people run through a gamut of feelings that might include:

  • Anger
  • Anxiety 
  • Disbelief
  • Dread
  • Fear
  • Guilt 
  • Shock

Some or all these feelings may come and go through a crash survivor’s mind. Sometimes, these feelings dissipate over time, and people return to the way they lived their lives before the crash. Other times, these feelings just cannot be shaken, and they worsen, becoming so overwhelming that living a life unimpeded by these heavy conditions does not seem possible. 

 According to studies conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), almost 40% of car crash survivors develop PTSD. Over time, these feelings develop into ongoing symptoms, which can include: 

  • A constant, general unease
  • Anxiety surrounding driving or being a passenger in a vehicle
  • An overwhelming fear of medical treatment
  • Excessive irritability or anger
  • Disconnecting from family, friends, and normal functions  
  • Frequent nightmares
  • Self-harm
  • Uncontrollable memories or flashbacks regarding the crash
  • Using drugs or alcohol to try to suppress the feelings

The risk of PTSD after a crash can increase if several other factors are present. These factors may include: 

  • If it was a life-threatening vehicle crash 
  • If anyone in the crash suffered major injuries
  • Serving as a first responder to traumatic events like law enforcement, firefighters, and emergency rescue workers
  • Experiencing a previous traumatic event like a prior car crash, an assault, rape, terrorist attack, or a natural disaster
  • Someone who already suffers from various mental disorders like anxiety or depression
  • The amount of support or treatment a person gets after the crash

Treating PTSD After a Crash 

As with any treatment, the first steps in managing PTSD symptoms are with speaking to a doctor. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) suggests asking a medical professional in the field a series of questions: 

  • Is it normal to experience these feelings?
  • Will these feelings ever stop?
  • How much time should it take to feel better?
  • Could these feelings lead to other mental health conditions like depression or anxiety?
  • Could medication help ease these feelings?
  • Would it also be advisable to seek the help of a counselor or therapist?

Coping with PTSD can sometimes be helped by taking a five-step path. This actively engages the feelings associated with the stress from a traumatic event. A broad outline of this path includes:

  1. Taking advantage of support groups (families, friends, doctors, and counselors) to discuss the details of the crash, and the thoughts and feelings associated with the crash and its aftermath.
  2. Staying active and exercising if the activities do not aggravate any physical injuries.
  3. Remaining engaged in regular routines and daily activities is part of healing. Even if it creates unease or pushes comfortable levels, normal activities help keep emotions balanced, and sometimes, distracted.
  4. Learning the art of defensive driving can help reduce the risk of future accidents. The simple job of getting back in a vehicle can be a daunting task for someone suffering from PTSD, but it can be very therapeutic to get behind the wheel and practice driving carefully and avoiding distractions. Keep to the basics: 
  • Wear seatbelts
  • Do not drive tired or under the influence of foreign substances
  • Avoid distractions like texting, talking on the phone or eating
  1. Following up with a family doctor or general practitioner to monitor recovery, manage prescriptions, or receive referrals for mental health specialists. 

Seeking Compensation for PTSD

Under Nevada law, if a claim is filed after a car crash, emotional injuries are treated the same as physical injuries. Both can inhibit people from returning to their everyday lives. PTSD can derail jobs and the enjoyment of everyday life. 

When involved in an accident, victims may be entitled to various types of compensation. This can range from medical expenses, pain and suffering, to lost wages and more. Understanding the different types of compensation in personal injury cases can help victims ensure they receive the full amount they are entitled to.

PTSD symptoms can be treated as pain and suffering when recovering compensation. Lost time at work because of anxiety surrounding traveling in cars or concentration issues at work because of added stress can be calculated as lost wages and lost earning potential. Any medical expenses accrued to treat PTSD like counseling and medications should also be included in the claim.

Affected by car accidents in Las Vegas? Our dedicated Las Vegas automobile accident attorney is here to assist you.

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