Pursue Compensation for Harm to Your Mental Health After an Accident
Serious injuries can have more than just physical effects. From being unable to work, exercise or spend meaningful time with family to realizing that your life may never truly be the same, it is not uncommon to experience psychological effects that impact your mental health as well.
If you are struggling with the psychological effects of injuries you sustained in an accident, you may have a mental health claim as part of your personal injury case. In fact, the value of your mental health claim may far exceed the medical bills and lost wages you have incurred (and will incur) as a result of your physical injuries. Our firm regularly pursues mental health claims on behalf of accident victims; and, if you are entitled to additional compensation for the non-physical effects of your injuries, we can use our experience to fight for the compensation you deserve.
Mental Health Impacts of Traumatic Accidents
The mental health impacts of traumatic accidents can take many different forms. As the American Psychological Association (APA) explains, “Mental illnesses are health conditions involving changes in emotion, thinking or behavior (or a combination of these). Mental illnesses are associated with distress and/or problems functioning in social, work or family activities.” According to the APA, nearly 20 percent of Americans live with mental health complications, and close to 5 percent have mental health conditions that can be classified as “serious.”
Some examples of mental health conditions commonly associated with the traumatic effects of serious accidents include:
Anxiety and Depression
Anxiety and depression are both common consequences of physical trauma. While some accident victims will experience symptoms of these conditions immediately, others will gradually begin to notice symptoms over time. Some accident victims will experience anxiety attacks as well; and, for those suffering from depression, it is not uncommon to experience waves that make some days worse than others.
Emotional trauma is described as a condition that causes challenges with functioning or coping after a frightening, distressing or physically harmful event. It is normal to experience emotional trauma after a serious accident, and some accident victims will experience symptoms for longer than others. Like the other mental health conditions on this list, treatment options are available, and seeking effective treatment can be essential for making a full recovery.
Loss of Relationships, Meaning and Enjoyment of Life
Due to the mental effects of their trauma, many accident victims will find it difficult, if not impossible, to get the same meaning out of their relationships and out of life. Accident victims often become withdrawn; and, if their physical injuries prevent them from working or engaging in their hobbies, they can also experience a substantial loss of enjoyment of life.
Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering describe the mental effects of physical injuries. Living with chronic pain can be extraordinarily difficult, and it can impact all aspects of a person’s life. This, in turn, can have other psychological effects, and this often leads to a downward spiral that many accident victims find it difficult to manage.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a long-term form of emotional trauma. As one resource explains, “[w]hile emotional trauma is a normal response to a disturbing event, it becomes PTSD when your nervous system gets ‘stuck’ and you remain in psychological shock, unable to make sense of what happened or process your emotions.” Many trauma victims struggle with PTSD for years after their accidents even with professional care.
Scarring and Disfigurement
When physical injuries result in permanent scarring and disfigurement, this can also have a significant impact on an individual’s mental wellbeing. Here too, professional treatment can help, but developing coping mechanisms and finding acceptance can be a difficult and long-term process.
5 Important Facts about Mental Health Claims in Personal Injury Cases
Pursuing financial compensation for a mental health condition after a serious accident is different from pursuing compensation for direct out-of-pocket costs. While understanding and acceptance of the risks of mental illness are growing, insurance companies still frequently treat these claims with skepticism. With this in mind, here are five important facts you need to know:
1. The Mental Health Effects of Traumatic Accidents are Very Real
While insurance adjusters may question the authenticity of your claim, the mental health effects of traumatic accidents are very real. Coping with the effects of a serious accident or catastrophic injuries is not easy; and, as an accident victim, you are not expected to simply “move on.”
2. Different People Process Traumatic Accidents Differently
Trauma impacts different people in different ways. If you are having a harder or easier time processing your situation than someone else, this is completely normal. It says nothing about you as a person, and it has no bearing on your right to file a mental health claim.
3. Ohio Law Allows for Recovery of Damages Related to Mental Health
In Ohio, as in most states, accident victims who suffer physical injuries can seek compensation for the psychological effects they endure. If someone else is responsible for what happened to you, you can—and should—hire a lawyer to help you recover your losses.
4. Recovering Damages Requires Proof of Negligence or Strict Liability
To recover your losses, you will need proof that someone else is responsible. In most cases, this involves gathering evidence of negligence. Driving recklessly, failing to maintain a safe premises, and providing unsafe working conditions are all common grounds for mental health claims. In cases involving defective products and dog bites, evidence of negligence generally isn’t required. In these cases, the responsible parties can be held financially accountable based on the principle of strict liability.
5. Recovering Damages Requires Proof of Your Financial and Non-Financial Losses
Since traumatic accidents can impact individuals’ mental health in different ways, there is no set or “standard” amount of compensation that is awarded for mental health claims. Instead, it is up to accident victims (and their attorneys) to prove the financial and non-financial costs of their conditions. As you move forward, it will be important for you to work closely with your attorney to thoroughly document the losses you are entitled to recover.
Pursuing a Mental Health Claim After a Serious Accident in Ohio
Here is some more important information about pursuing a mental health claim after a serious accident in Ohio:
Accidents that Can Lead to Mental Health Claims
All types of accidents and harmful incidents can potentially support mental health claims in Ohio. As discussed above, the key is being able to prove that another person or company is responsible for what happened. At Malek & Malek Law Firm, we handle cases involving all causes, including:
- Vehicle-on-vehicle collisions
- Vehicle collisions Involving cyclists and pedestrians
- Slip-and-fall and trip-and-fall accidents
- Medical malpractice and nursing home negligence
- Criminal violence and animal attacks
Losses You Can Recover in a Mental Health Claim
When pursuing a mental health claim in an Ohio personal injury case, you are entitled to seek just compensation for all of the losses you have endured and will endure as a result of the accident. Broadly speaking, these losses fall into four categories:
- Treatment Expenses – This includes compensation for your current and future psychological or psychiatric care.
- Other Out–of-Pocket Costs – This includes compensation for your prescriptions, transportation costs to and from appointments, and any other costs you incur as a result of your enhanced needs.
- Lost Earnings – This includes all forms of lost income resulting from your inability to work due to your mental health condition.
- Non–Financial Losses – This includes additional compensation for your pain and suffering, emotional trauma, loss of relationships and enjoyment of life, and the other intangible effects of your compromised mental health.
Calculating and Proving Your Losses
To calculate and prove these losses, you will need to work closely with your attorney to collect and generate as much evidence as possible. Having adequate evidence is critical for recovering the financial compensation you deserve. Along with documentary evidence such as treatment bills, prescription receipts and employment records, your attorney may also want you to keep a daily journal and assist with the preparation of videos, written statements and other evidence your attorney can use to prove the day-to-day effects of your mental health condition.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from Dog Bites
Along with other traumatic incidents, dog bites are a particularly common cause of PTSD. No one expects to be attacked by a dog; and, when a vicious attack happens, the physical and psychological effects can be devastating. Our attorneys have particular experience handling dog bite cases in Ohio, and we are well aware of the mental health consequences that can result from being attacked by a vicious dog.
Discuss Your Mental Health or PTSD Claim with an Experienced Local Attorney
If you would like to know more about pursuing a mental health or PTSD claim following an accident, dog attack or other traumatic incident in Ohio, we invite you to schedule a free consultation. Please call 888-444-7440 or contact us online to get started today.