Posted by: Henness & Haight

When the unthinkable happens, and you are in a severe car accident, there is a lot of stress, anxiety, and shock. These feelings are often immediate and strong. The accident may have caused minor to serious physical injuries, which can exacerbate or prolong feelings of stress and anxiety as you deal with the pain and suffering as you heal. Even if you are physically unscathed, mental trauma can occur as a result of a serious accident.

Emotional effects are often mentioned as a result of a severe auto accident but are seldom addressed or treated as rigorously as physical injuries. As a result, you may suffer from the emotional effects of a motor vehicle accident weeks, months, and even years after the event.

What emotional and psychological effects can linger after an auto accident?

Researchers have found that around a third of all car accident victims experience long-term adverse emotional and mental effects from motor vehicle accidents. These conditions include:

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Phobias surrounding travel and automobiles
  • General anxiety
  • Depression

After a motor vehicle accident, emotional distress can vary and may not affect you until months after your accident. Researchers have found that women are more likely to experience PTSD than men, but both can experience symptoms. Children were just as likely as adults to experience PTSD from an auto accident, though their symptoms sometimes differ from adults.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD is a disorder that develops in some people after experiencing a shocking, scary, or dangerous event, such as a severe auto accident. Symptoms usually begin within three months of an event, though sometimes symptoms don’t occur for years. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, symptoms include:

  • Flashbacks
  • Bad dreams
  • Frightening thoughts
  • Avoidance of places or objects that remind one of the traumatic experience
  • Avoidance of thoughts or feelings related to the traumatic event
  • Easily startled
  • Feeling tense or on edge
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Angry outbursts
  • Trouble remembering key features of the traumatic event
  • Negative thoughts about oneself or the world
  • Distorted feelings like guilt or blame
  • Loss of interest in enjoyable activities

Those who experience multiple symptoms that last for more than a month and are severe enough to interfere with relationships or work are considered PTSD. For young children, symptoms can also include:

  • Wetting the bed after having learned to use the toilet
  • Forgetting how to or being unable to talk
  • Acting out the scary event during playtime
  • Being unusually clingy with a parent or other adult

Phobic Travel Anxiety

Some accident victims will develop an intense fear of or aversion to traveling in an automobile. If this phobia is extreme, lasts longer than a few months, and significantly impacts your social life, work life, and school life, you should seek medical help. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, people with phobic travel anxiety:

  • May have an irrational or excessive worry about being in another accident and have an extreme fear of driving
  • Take active steps to avoid the feared object or situation
  • Experience immediate, intense anxiety upon encountering the feared object or situation
  • Endure unavoidable car rides with intense anxiety

General Anxiety

Some people develop a generalized anxiety disorder after being in a motor vehicle accident and will display excessive anxiety or worry most days for at least six months about any number of things. These symptoms include:

  • Feeling restless, wound-up, or on-edge
  • Being easily fatigued
  • Having difficulty concentrating; mind going blank
  • Being irritable
  • Having muscle tension
  • Having difficulty controlling feelings of worry
  • Having sleep problems, such as difficulty falling or staying asleep, restlessness, or unsatisfying sleep


Depression is a common but serious mood disorder that affects how you feel, think, and handle daily activities. Symptoms must be present for at least two weeks and include:

  • Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
  • Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
  • Irritability
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities
  • Decreased energy or fatigue
  • Moving or talking more slowly
  • Feeling restless or having trouble sitting still
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
  • Difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
  • Appetite or weight changes
  • Thoughts of death or suicide or suicide attempts
  • Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems without a clear physical cause or that do not ease even with treatment

How Can These Unseen Effects Impact Your Life?

Mental or emotional disorders can disrupt your everyday life and negatively impact your physical health, sleep quality, social interactions, and daily life. They affect daily tasks, long-term relationships, and life goals. They can change relationships, affect work productivity, and impact school performance. In short, untreated mental and emotional disorders can make every area of your life more stressful or difficult.

What Can You Do If You Suffer From Mental Trauma After a Car Accident?

If you are suffering from emotional distress due to your accident, hire a car accident lawyer right away. They will work to help you obtain financial compensation for the emotional pain and suffering that the crash caused. Often, treatment includes therapy, medication, or support groups, which can be provided either in-person or online. If you are struggling, don’t put this off; you deserve expert care for your mental health just as much as your physical health.

If you need professional help, a car accident attorney can connect you with licensed medical and mental health providers even if you don’t have health insurance. At the same time, they’ll be working directly with the at-fault party’s insurance company to help recover damages as quickly as possible.

How Car Accident Attorneys Seek Compensation to Support Your Entire Recovery

A lawyer may be able to get a fair settlement to pay for treatments and mental health care related to the psychological effects of a car crash.

State law in Nevada allows for a crash survivor to file a claim for both physical and emotional damages. An experienced lawyer will know how to calculate the amount of pain and suffering caused by your accident, defined as the emotional distress and disruption that you experience after an accident and measured by the symptoms outlined above. An amount will then be awarded either through a settlement outside of court or a judge if your case goes to court. You can then use the compensation to pay for any care you have or will receive regarding the emotional pain and suffering that you have experienced.

Emotional Pain After a Car Accident? With Our Las Vegas Car Accident Attorneys, Hope is Here

Traffic accidents are stressful events, but that doesn’t mean you should have to live with its lingering effects forever. At Henness and Haight, Injury Law, we will review your case for free and charge nothing unless you win. That’s because our law firm works on a contingency fee basis, which means there are no upfront costs, and you won’t be charged until we get a settlement or judgment for you.

Call today for your free consultation and case evaluation and ease the emotional distress that may be lingering from the accident.