Can I recover damages for depression after car accident?

In order to collect damages related to mental suffering such as depression after car accident, you must have evidence that the mental issue occurred because of the car crash and hurt you sustained in the crash. When involved in a car accident, most people think of only their physical injuries. However, depression or anxiety after a car accident are some of the most common car accident injuries, mentally. Difficulty processing emotions is especially likely if you suffered a serious injury or lost a loved one in the crash.

Issues a Court Might Award Damages Monies to Address

Car accident claims made for severe injuries may include the mental trauma suffered by those close to the victims and the victims themselves. Post-traumatic stress disorder is a common result of catastrophic car accidents and can cause long-term suffering even after physical wounds have healed.

Depression and anxiety can lead to the following circumstances.

  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Poor sleep quality
  • Withdrawal from friends and family
  • Impairment of a person's ability to work and earn a living

To this extent, depression and anxiety damages should be covered by a car accident claim, but in many cases it is not. Psychiatric evaluation can be helpful in diagnosing the conditions and causes, as well as a prognosis of how it is expected to impact your life.

Mental damages are often overlooked because they are not as easily quantified as physical damages. Without a doctor's diagnosis and prognosis, it may be difficult to convince the insurance adjuster that your settlement should include pain and suffering or "non-economic" damages.

It is unlikely that the insurance company will include compensation for depression and anxiety without you directly requesting it in your claim. Therefore, it is important to work with a Des Moines car accident attorney who will advocate for your full and fair compensation.

How to Claim Damages for Depression after Car Accident

While it is simpler and more straightforward to prove physical injuries in an accident, a person may find it much more challenging to determine emotional wounds, like depression. That is because there are no tools that can clearly measure the extent and severity of the symptoms of depression, or even whether they do exist. It doesn't make it easier than many insurance fraud investigators try to disprove claims of emotional distress, alleging that these damages are only included to amplify the value of the claim.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Accident victims frequently suffer emotionally. If you have suffered emotional distress after an accident, note down all your symptoms. Maintain a journal of your feelings and document these symptoms, to help you file a claim.

When you are receiving medical treatment for injuries, inform your doctor about any symptoms of depression so that they are documented.

  • Frequent irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Irrational fears
  • Loss of appetite

If you are now taking antidepressants or begun counseling to treat depression, record information about the sessions as well. It is challenging to measure depression, and, therefore, it is important for you to maintain documentation related to your emotional injuries.

What Should I Do if I Suspect Depression?

If you or a loved one suspect that you are suffering from depression here are some ideas of what to do:

1. Ask for help because you may need it, Don't try to deal with it on your own;

2. Talk to a trusted family member or friend to see if they have noticed any changes to you;

3. Talk to a trusted medical and/or mental health provider that you have seen in the past;

4. Depending upon the severity of your symptoms (for example, if you are considering suicide, hurting yourself or others) seek immediate attention by going to your local hospital emergency room or to a mental health hospital. 

Remember, having depression is normal especially after you have been through the trauma and loss that a car crash can cause.  It is okay to ask for help and failing to seek help can result in your depression being ignored by the insurance company and eventually a judge and/or jury.  It is much better to document the problems you are having with a medical provider than to try to fix the condition on your own.  Seeking help for depression is common and approximately 13% of the US population is on antidepressants.  You may or may not need medication and/or counseling, but it is better to seek help and find out instead of living with untreated depression. 

For some injured Iowans being able to express their emotions caused by the car crash with a counselor can help a lot.  Keeping the emotions bottled up inside can lead to more problems. 

We Make Sure You Receive Full Compensation for Your Damages

The Walker, Billingsley and Bair personal injury law firm dedicates its time to leveling the playing field between injured Iowans and insurance companies. When the insurance company neglects to compensate for the difficulty of mentally recovering from a traumatic event, our attorneys step up to help make things right.

We have offices in Des Moines and Newton, and serve all of the surrounding areas. For immediate assistance, call (888) 435-9886 or fill out our online contact form and get the information you need.

Corey Walker
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With over 22 years legal experience, Corey has been recognized for his work as an injury attorney.