Physical injuries are not the only aftermath of a car accident. Many people suffer from emotional trauma. That emotional strain can be severe or mild. No matter how serious it is, it affects everyday life.
You can’t just sit back and watch a loved one spiral as the emotional toll grips them. What are you supposed to do? If someone you love was in a car crash and is suffering emotionally, there are ways you can help.
Why Does Emotional Trauma Happen?
Immediately after an accident, adrenaline, and shock set in. There may be moments where you become disillusioned. It’s hard to imagine that the crash really happened. When the accident wasn’t your fault, there’s anger that it happened to you. If it was your fault – all or partial – there’s guilt. In an accident with fatalities, guilt is common. Even if it wasn’t your fault, you may feel guilty that you lived and others didn’t.
Weeks or months later, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can set in. You become terrified to get beyond the wheel again. If you’re able to, little things can cause panic attacks. Squealing tires, breaking glass, or just seeing the accident site can cause overwhelming anxiety.
When a panic attack hits, typical symptoms are a racing heart, tightness in the chest, breathing difficulties, chills, sweating, and numbness in the extremities. The first time it happens, it’s common to think you’re having a heart attack. That fear in itself can trigger more stress and anxiety. As it goes on, insomnia may set in.
Some of the other symbols of severe emotional distress include feeling separated from reality. The best way to describe it is the feeling of being in another realm where you see and hear people, but they don’t see or hear you. Nausea and diarrhea may occur if stomach acid builds up. Some people have said there’s also a tingly feeling that’s a little like it would feel if you had menthol cream spread all over your body.
People who have had panic attacks often look for a cause that makes sense to them. If the panic attack happened while on the way to a grocery store, it’s normal to stop going to the store. It can build to a point where leaving the house at all seems impossible. This makes it hard to hold a job, visit friends, see a doctor, or run errands.
How Do You Help Someone Who is Dealing With Emotional Trauma After a Crash?
Before you help someone who is dealing with emotional trauma, make sure they want help. Some people handle panic attacks and emotional strain best if they’re left alone. If they want help, ask them what technique helps best.
You may simply become a sounding board. Don’t be judgmental. Listen and respond when prompted. Often, it helps just to have someone listen. Keeping the mind occupied works well.
Some people need to feel another person’s touch. This is especially true if the person is going through a stage of anxiety that makes you feel out of touch with reality. A person’s hand on your hand or shoulder helps overcome this.
Be there to reassure the person that they’re okay. Knowing that there is someone there who can call an ambulance can be reassuring. Don’t leave the person’s side until they feel okay and say it’s okay for you to leave. Don’t say that you have other things you need to do. You need to be there for support for as long as it takes.
Once the anxiety attack has subsided, see if that person wants you to call a doctor or therapist. It may be easier for them if you call and schedule another therapy session. What’s important is that follow their cues and let them guide you into the things that would be most helpful while the anxiety is present.
Does the Insurance Settlement Factor Emotional Trauma Into the Amount That’s Offered?
If the PTSD occurs as a result of a car crash, you may find that the insurance settlement doesn’t account for that. It should. PTSD and other symptoms of emotional trauma cannot be ignored. Ignoring them can make them worse. It helps to have an expert car accident attorney look at the case and make sure the settlement offer covers the loss of income and changes to your everyday loss.
Support your friend or family member and help them reach out to Trial Lawyers for Justice. It’s the best way to ensure restitution for emotional trauma is not overlooked. TL4J’s legal experts are available 24/7 via live chat or phone. There’s no charge unless the attorneys win. Call 1-866-854-5529 or contact us online to discuss your situation.