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Emotional Distress After Car Accident


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Cantor Grana Buckner Bucci, Emotional Distress, Car Accidents

You’ve just been in a car accident. You’re shaken, scared, and feeling a little bit overwhelmed. What do you do now? The first thing you should do is seek medical attention if you need it. Once your physical injuries are treated, you may want to consider seeking emotional distress counseling as well.

Because physical injuries are more noticeable and typically at the forefront of your mind, Contact Cantor Grana Buckner Bucci today for a free consultation to discuss your case with an experienced car accident attorney.

What is Emotional Distress?

Emotional distress is a condition that a traumatic event can cause. It can manifest as anxiety, fear, depression, or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and can take a toll on your mental health.

How Long Does it Take for Emotional Distress to Appear After a Car Accident?

It’s not always easy to tell right away if you are experiencing emotional distress after a car crash. Some people may feel the effects immediately, while others may not experience them until weeks or months later.

emotional distress following a car accident

Symptoms of Emotional Distress

Emotional distress symptoms are evaluated on a case-by-case basis. There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. Some common symptoms include:

  • Intrusive thoughts
  • Flashbacks
  • Nightmares
  • Severe mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Fear
  • Depression
  • Disorientation and confusion
  • Shock and disbelief

You may be eligible for compensation if you have been in a car accident and are experiencing any of these symptoms.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder After a Car Accident

PTSD is a condition that can develop after a traumatic event. It is characterized by intrusive thoughts, flashbacks, nightmares, and severe anxiety. Common symptoms of PTSD are avoidance behaviors, hyperarousal, and severe depression.

Intrusive Thoughts

Intrusive thoughts are thoughts or images that enter your mind against your will. They can be upsetting, scary, or just plain weird. Intrusive thoughts are a common symptom of emotional distress.


Anxiety is another common emotional distress symptom that people experience after a car accident. It is a feeling of fear or apprehension characterized by feelings of worry, dread, and panic. You may also notice an increased heart rate.


Flashbacks are a common symptom of PTSD. They are memories or images of the traumatic event that play over and over in your mind. They can be very vivid and seem like they are happening again in the present moment. Many car accident victims experience flashbacks after a car crash. They can be very intense and frightening, disruptive to your life, and cause great emotional distress.


Depression is a mental illness that affects how you feel, think, and behave. It is one of the most common emotional distress symptoms people experience after a car accident. Depression can cause a range of symptoms, including:

  • Feeling sad or hopeless
  • Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Having trouble sleeping or eating
  • Feeling tired all the time
  • Struggling to concentrate or make decisions


Fear is one of the most common emotional distress symptoms that people experience after an auto accident. Fear is another common emotion that people feel after a car accident. It is a feeling of dread or terror caused by the anticipation of danger or physical pain.

Severe Mood Swings

Mood swings are a common symptom of emotional distress. Severe mood swings can cause problems in your personal life and at work. Some signs of severe mood swings include:

  • Feeling very happy for no reason
  • Feeling very sad for no reason
  • Anger outbursts
  • Crying spells

emotional distress, woman sad after car accident at work

How Do You Prove Emotional Distress After a Car Accident?

The process of proving emotional distress after a car accident can be complicated. It is frequently based on the individual’s subjective experience. Some factors that may be taken into consideration include:

  • The severity of the event
  • How long it took for the symptoms to develop
  • Whether or not you have any pre-existing mental health conditions
  • The type of symptoms you are experiencing

Provide Evidence of Your Symptoms

You need to provide evidence of your symptoms to prove that you are suffering from emotional distress. This can include:

  • Medical Records – If you have been treated for emotional distress after a car accident, your medical records can be used as evidence.
  • Therapy Notes – If you are receiving therapy or counseling for emotional distress? Your therapist’s notes can be used as evidence.
  • Witness Testimony – If you have any friends or family members who witnessed the accident and saw your emotional distress symptoms, their testimony can be used as evidence.

If you are successful in proving your case, you may be able to receive compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Compensation for Emotional Distress

If you successfully file a claim for emotional distress, you may be awarded compensatory damages. This is a type of damage that covers your out-of-pocket expenses, such as medical bills and lost wages. You may also be awarded punitive damages intended to punish the other driver for their actions.

Damages in a Car Accident Case

When it comes to emotional distress, you may be able to receive both economic and non-economic damages. This will depend on the severity of your condition and the evidence you provide.

How does a Jury Calculate Emotional Distress Damages?

When it comes to awarding damages for emotional distress, courts use a variety of factors to determine the amount. Some common factors include:

  • The duration of the injury
  • The nature and extent of the symptoms
  • The impact of the injury on the person’s life
  • Whether or not treatment is required

Damages are then usually in the form of economic damages and non-economic damages.

Economic damages can be quantified in terms of money and typically cover medical expenses for emotional and psychological injuries. Other expenses include lost earnings and property damage. Non-economic damages are those that cannot be easily quantified and are typically awarded in cases where the plaintiff has suffered a physical injury as a result of the accident. For instance, emotional distress is a type of non-economic damage. Other non-economic damages include pain and suffering and lost quality of life.

patient after car accident in emotional distress in a wheelchair

How Much Can You Expect to Receive in Compensation?

The amount of emotional distress damages you can expect to receive for emotional anguish will vary depending on the severity of your case. In most cases, you can expect to receive a few thousand dollars. However, in some cases, you may be eligible for more.

It is important to note that there are no set standards for awarding compensation for emotional distress. Instead, each case is evaluated on its own merits.

If you have been in a car accident and are experiencing any symptoms of emotional distress, it is important to seek legal help. A qualified lawyer can help you get the compensation that you deserve.

Do I Have to See a Doctor to Get Compensation for Emotional Distress?

Although it is recommended, you do not have to see a doctor to get compensation for emotional distress. However, if you are experiencing any physical symptoms resulting from the accident, you should seek medical attention.

Can I Get Compensation for Emotional Distress if I Don’t Have PTSD?

Yes, you can get compensation for emotional distress even if you don’t have PTSD. However, you will still need to prove that the car accident has caused you significant emotional harm or physical injuries.

Can I Sue for Emotional Distress If I Don’t Have Physical Injuries?

If you are not suffering physical injuries but still experiencing emotional distress, seek legal help. You may be able to receive compensation for the emotional anguish that has been caused by the accident.

Do Insurance Companies Take Psychological Injuries Seriously?

Insurance companies typically take psychological injuries seriously. However, they will likely try to reduce the amount of compensation you receive. This is why it is important to have a qualified lawyer representing you. They will negotiate on your behalf and ensure you get the best possible outcome.

How Long Do I Have to Sue For Emotional Distress After an Accident?

The length of time you have to sue for emotional distress after an accident will vary depending on the state in which you live. Virginia’s statute of limitations for personal injury cases is two years.

woman talking on the phone to a car accident attorney after an accident

Talk to a Personal Injury Attorney at The Virginia Trial Firm Today

If you have suffered emotional distress after a car accident, don’t hesitate to seek help. There is no shame in asking for assistance. Our personal injury lawyers at The Virginia Trial Firm can help you every step of the way as you pursue compensation for your injuries.

Contact Cantor Grana Buckner Bucci for a free consultation, and we will evaluate your case and help you determine the best course of action.

What Our Client Say:

"During an extremely emotional time you were understanding, caring, professional, and communicated clearly every step of the way."
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