Emotional Trauma after a Motorcycle Accident

Motorcyclists are at risk for myriad injuries in the event of a motorcycle accident. This can range from soft tissue injuries and fractures to spinal cord and head injuries. In some cases – especially in cases of severe injuries – motorcyclists who were involved in an accident might suffer from emotional trauma in addition to their physical ailments.

In such cases, Des Moines motorcyclists pursuing a liability claim or lawsuit against a negligent driver can factor this emotional distress into the claim.

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may develop following a traumatic event like a motorcycle accident. Once known as a condition that soldiers exposed to the battlefield might develop – and previously referred to as shellshock – the condition might manifest for a variety of reasons.

According to the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH), PTSD symptoms are grouped into three categories:

  • re-experiencing - flashbacks, nightmares and thoughts about the incident;
  • avoidance - avoiding certain events or actions, as well as emotional numbness, guilt and depression, difficulty remembering the event, and more; and
  • hyperarousal - easily startled, edginess, trouble sleeping, and intense episodes of anger.

Head Injuries and Depression

Head injuries are a major concern for motorcyclists in the event of an accident. That’s why most states have implanted motorcycle helmet laws (Iowa repealed its motorcycle helmet laws) and advocacy and safety groups recommend their use by all operators and passengers.

Various researchers have studied the association between traumatic brain injury (TBI) and depression. One study published in 2004 in the Archives of General Psychiatry found that one-third of study participants developed major depressive disorder within the first year after sustaining a TBI. The researchers concluded, “Major depressive disorder is a frequent complication of TBI…”

Another study published in 2002 in the Journal of Nursing Scholarship found, “Chronic stress was significantly and positively related to post-TBI depression.” This stress may be related to the recovery process and other mitigating factors after a serious injury.

Emotional Trauma in Personal Injury Cases

Your motorcycle accident claim will account for medical expenses related to physical injuries like head injuries, spinal cord injuries, and more. It may also account for emotional trauma after the accident.

Emotional trauma that may be included in the monetary damages awarded you after a Des Moines motorcycle accident include:

  • mental health assessment;
  • counseling;
  • treatment; and
  • mental anguish.

Keep in mind, though, that failure to wear a helmet might reduce your settlement if you suffered head injuries. The insurance company or defendant might argue helmet use may have prevented or reduced severity of the injury. Talk to your attorney about how your helmet use may factor into your claim and whether it might have any bearing on emotional or noneconomic damages you might recover.

If you’re in or around Des Moines and need legal assistance after a serious motorcycle accident, call Walker, Billingsley & Bair at (515) 440-2852 or contact us via our online form to set up a consultation.

Corey Walker
With over 20 years legal experience, Corey has been recognized for his work as an injury attorney.