If you have been involved in a car accident or other terrifying event, the person who caused you harm is not only responsible for your physical damages, like your medical bills and property damage. They are also responsible for your emotional harm, such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
PTSD is a medical condition that is triggered by a terrifying event. Depending on the event and the person, PTSD can be relatively minor. However, there are many cases when PTSD can be severe. Some PTSD symptoms include flashbacks, nightmares, and severe anxiety. There may also be uncontrollable thoughts about the event. These symptoms can sometimes prevent a person from their everyday normal activities.
If you suffer from PTSD due to a reckless or negligent driver, you may want to include that in your lawsuit. It is important that all your injuries are properly compensated. However, because most of this harm is done inside the mind and body, it is difficult to prove PTSD and its harm, to a jury. Here, we explore ways that you can convey to a fact finder – usually a jury or a judge – that you suffer from PTSD and the extent of your injuries.
How to Succeed in a PTSD Lawsuit
When you bring forward a personal injury suit, you will be responsible to prove certain elements to the fact finder. These include:
(1) Injury. You must prove that you suffered PTSD. That injury must be evident through symptoms, tests, and usually through testimony from an expert witness.
(2) Causation. There must be a link between the PTSD suffered and the car accident. That means that the PTSD was a result of the car accident.
(3) Recoverable Damages. Damages are monetary awards to the injured party. Damages usually work to make the victim whole again. Damages will always be specific to the injury of the victim and the conduct of the party at fault. However, at a minimum, you can expect to recover your own out-of-pocket expenses.
An expert witness has special knowledge in a particular field that is important to the case. Expert witnesses are necessary in a PTSD lawsuit settlement because the average person may be unable to determine whether a plaintiff can be diagnosed with PTSD. Also, the average juror may not be able to understand the severity of PTSD.
An expert witness does at least two things in a PTSD case for the jury. First, the expert witness must explain to the jury, in a way they can understand, what is required to diagnose PTSD. The expert witness is essentially helping the jury to understand what PTSD is, and what facts must be present to establish a diagnosis PTSD. That way, the jury can make a finding whether the plaintiff has exhibited those symptoms. Second, the expert may give additional testimony as to whether the plaintiff has shown symptoms associated with a PTSD diagnosis.
In some cases, the expert witness is the therapist who is treating the plaintiff. In these cases, if the therapist has personally witnessed the plaintiff exhibit all the symptoms of PTSD and has diagnosed them with PTSD, then the expert witness also becomes a fact witness. This means that not only can the expert witness help the jury understand what is needed to diagnose PTSD, but they also have personal knowledge that the plaintiff has PTSD.
The more credible sources a plaintiff can provide to the jury about what PTSD is, and whether they have exhibited those symptoms, the stronger the case will be.
What Factors Determine the Value of a PTSD Lawsuit Settlement
Just because the plaintiff can prove they suffer from PTSD, doesn’t mean that they will be awarded damages. The severity of the damages will affect the value of the settlement. For example, if the victim of PTSD suffered job loss and/or pain and suffering, they may be able to receive compensation.
- Severity of the injury. Documenting mental injuries are more difficult than documenting physical ones. However, it is critical to a PTSD case. To show the extent of your injuries, you can provide evidence showing the need for therapy, the need for medications, time lost from work, and other loss of other activities.
- Inability to work. Document how PTSD has affected your day-to-day life and your ability to provide for yourself. This can include the amount of time missed from work, job loss, and even lost future income.
If you have been involved in an accident and suffer from PTSD, it may be difficult to prove. However, when a PTSD lawsuit is won it is worthwhile. The experienced attorneys at Dan Rose Law will ensure that your case has all the elements for success. We invite you to schedule a consultation, at no cost to you, by calling 415-945-8900 or online.