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Personal Injury

Coping with anxiety, PTSD, and depression after a car accident.

With the right strategies and support, individuals can learn to manage their symptoms and regain a sense of control over their lives.

Someone experiencing psychological injuries after a motor vehicle accident

A car accident can be a shocking and life-altering experience, leaving physical injuries and property damage in its wake. However, the impact of such an event often extends far beyond the physical realm. In the aftermath of a car accident, individuals may find themselves grappling with the often-overlooked consequences on their mental well-being. Anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are just a few of the mental health challenges that can emerge after a car accident.

At MacGillivray Law, you will receive legal guidance from a compassionate and experienced law firm that can help you navigate the path to recovery, both physically and emotionally. Our lawyers have helped many individuals who suffer from psychological injuries by seeking out the support and compensation they deserve.

Anxiety

Anxiety is a natural response to stress, and it is often experienced after a traumatic event like a car accident. This type of anxiety can manifest in a variety of ways, including intrusive thoughts or memories, heightened vigilance, physical symptoms like sweating and shaking, and avoidance behaviors. These symptoms can be challenging to manage and can impact an individual’s quality of life.

Car accidents often happen suddenly and without warning, leaving individuals feeling vulnerable and out of control. This loss of control can trigger feelings of helplessness and fear, which can develop into anxiety over time.

Another factor that can contribute to anxiety after a motor vehicle accident is the fear that it may happen again. After an accident, individuals may become hypervigilant on the road, constantly checking mirrors, and anticipating potential dangers. This heightened state of alertness can contribute to the development of anxiety and make it difficult for individuals to relax and feel safe while driving.

PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that can occur after an individual experiences or witnesses a traumatic event, like a car accident. People who witnessed the accident, or lost a loved one in an accident, can also develop PTSD. The symptoms of PTSD can be severe and can include flashbacks, nightmares, severe anxiety, avoidance of situations that trigger memories of the accident, difficulty sleeping, and irritability.

PTSD can have significant impacts on an individual’s daily life, relationships, and their ability to work. It can be a chronic condition that requires ongoing treatment and support.

It is important to note that PTSD may not be immediately apparent after an accident and may take some time to develop. Therefore, it is important to monitor your mental and emotional health in the days, weeks, and even months following an accident and seek medical attention if necessary.

Depression

After an accident, an individual may experience feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and a loss of interest in activities that they once enjoyed. Depression can also lead to physical symptoms, such as fatigue, changes in appetite and sleep patterns, and physical pain.

An individual may experience depression for a variety of reasons after an accident. They may be dealing with physical injuries that limit their mobility and independence, which can lead to feelings of frustration and hopelessness. They may also be struggling with the financial burden of medical bills and lost wages, leading to stress and anxiety.

In addition, individuals may be dealing with the emotional trauma of the accident itself, which can lead to feelings of guilt, shame, and anxiety. They may also be dealing with the loss of a loved one or the traumatic experience of witnessing the accident.

Recovering from depression after a motor vehicle accident can be a long and difficult journey, but it is important to remember that help is available. With the right support and treatment, individuals can learn to manage their symptoms and move forward with their lives.

Managing your mental health after an accident

There are many steps that individuals can take to manage their mental health after a car accident. Here are a few strategies to consider:

  • Seek professional help – Speaking with a mental health professional, such as a therapist or counselor, can be incredibly beneficial in managing your mental health after a car accident. These professionals can provide tools and techniques to help individuals cope with their symptoms and work through any underlying trauma.
  • Stay active – Regular exercise can be an effective way to manage anxiety or PTSD symptoms. Physical activity helps to release endorphins, which are natural mood boosters. Additionally, exercise can help individuals feel more in control of their bodies and reduce the sense of helplessness that can contribute to anxiety.
  • Limit exposure to triggers – Avoiding triggers that can contribute to anxiety or PTSD can be an effective way to manage symptoms. For example, if driving on a particular road triggers disturbing thoughts or feelings, taking an alternate route may be a helpful strategy.
  • Connect with supportive people – Having a strong support system can be incredibly beneficial after an accident. Connecting with friends and family members who can offer emotional support and a listening ear can help individuals feel less isolated and alone.

After experiencing a traumatic event, mental health is an important area of your life to manage, along with your physical health. With the right strategies and support, individuals can learn to manage their symptoms and regain a sense of control over their lives. By taking proactive steps to manage their symptoms, individuals can improve their quality of life and move forward.

It’s important to know you are not alone. Our lawyers at MacGillivray Injury and Insurance Law are here to support you every step of the way.

Case law

The case law below demonstrates cases resolved by Canadian courts where an individual was awarded damages for psychological injuries.

In the Nova Scotia case of Trenholm v. H & C Trucking Ltd., 2014 NSCC 90 (CanLII), the plaintiff, Trenholm, witnessed her friend’s death in a motor vehicle accident caused by a transport truck. She suffered no physical injury but suffered from PTSD, which prevented her from pursuing a career and enjoying life to the extent she would have if not for the accident. Trenholm experienced anxiousness, depression, and flashbacks after the accident, and her psychiatrist diagnosed her with PTSD. She underwent psychotherapy, but her condition persisted, and she had trouble socializing and leaving the house. Trenholm was awarded damages for nervous shock resulting from witnessing the death of her friend in a motor vehicle accident. She received general damages of $75,000 and compensation for past and future income loss of $20,000. Trenholm’s PTSD and depression were deemed to have resulted from the car accident, and they compromised her ability to cope with other difficult situations. Trenholm’s parents received a modest award of $3,000 each for the assistance they had provided to Trenholm.

In the New Brunswick case of Hébert v. Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Commission et al., 2017 NBCA 43 (CanLII), Hébert, an ambulance attendant, was diagnosed with PTSD because of the traumatic situations he encountered while working. He applied for benefits from the Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Commission, but his claim was denied, and his appeal was dismissed. The Tribunal found that although Hébert suffered from PTSD, events that are commonly witnessed by ambulance drivers could not qualify as traumatic events for compensation purposes. The Court of Appeal however found that the Tribunal erred in dismissing Hébert’s claim for compensation for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) because they incorrectly believed that the events he witnessed were part of the normal duties of an ambulance attendant. WorkSafe NB’s Policy No. 21-203 recognized that there could be instances where the traumatic event was not necessarily unusual in the worker’s workplace. An emergency responder can qualify for compensation in stress-related claims even in the absence of one particular triggering event. Hébert’s exposure to a series of horrific incidents, including a murder/suicide and the suicide of two teenagers, qualified as traumatic events under the Policy. The Tribunal failed to assess Hébert’s case in accordance with the principles set out in the Policy, as well as consult leading caselaw. Accordingly, the Tribunal’s decision was set aside, and the Commission was ordered to pay Hébert the benefits to which he was entitled.

In the Newfoundland and Labrador case Norman v. Goodridge, 2001 CanLII 37640 (NL SC), Norman sued Goodridge for damages sustained in a motor vehicle accident. Goodridge admitted liability. Norman had pre-existing conditions, including obsessive-compulsive disorder, temporomandibular joint dysfunction, and migraine headaches. After the accident, she suffered a moderate whiplash injury and post-concussion syndrome, as well as other injuries including depression. The defendant argued that the depression pre-existed the accident. The court found that the depression was caused by the injuries sustained in the accident and not the pre-existing condition. Norman was awarded $75,000 in general damages, divided as $45,000 for physical injuries, and $30,000 for depression. Additionally, she was awarded past and future housekeeping expenses, future medical care costs, and income loss.

Recognizing the significance of mental well-being in the aftermath of such traumatic events is essential. By seeking appropriate support and legal guidance, accident victims can obtain the necessary resources and assistance to address their mental health challenges.

At MacGillivray Law, we understand the complex interplay between the legal and emotional aspects of car accident cases. Our compassionate team is dedicated to not only advocating for the physical recovery of our clients but also ensuring their mental well-being is given the attention it deserves. Remember, healing encompasses more than just physical scars, and your mental health matters.

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