After a traumatic or life-threatening event, it is very common for a person to experience upsetting memories of the event (i.e. “flashbacks”), increased unease or jumpiness, trouble sleeping and feelings of rage or depression. If these reactions do not ease over time or simply get worse, a person might be suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or “PTSD.”

While PTSD is popularly viewed as a mood disorder associated with anxiety, it can, in fact, be a form of brain injury brought about by constant bombardment of brain chemicals due to a traumatic event. With advances in science and heightened studies of PTSD, many experts have come to view PTSD as associated with traumatic brain injury or “TBI.”

According to a study discussed in the January 31, 2008 edition of The New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found that American soldiers who experienced mild concussions while deployed in Iraq exhibited symptoms associated with PTSD and physical health problems 3 to 4 months following the soldiers’ return home to the United States. The same study also found that depression and PTSD are important links signifying the relationship between mild TBI and physical health problems. Recognizing the seriousness of PTSD, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs has provided significant information on its website ( regarding PTSD in an effort to assist veterans and their families in dealing with this emerging health crises.

If you think PTSD is limited to soldiers fighting in war zones, you would be mistaken. PTSD can occur following a traumatic accident such a motor vehicle collision. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV (“DSM-IV”), PTSD may be summarized in the following manner:

  1. There is exposure to a traumatic event;
  2. There is persistent re-experience of the event in the mind of the PTSD sufferer;
  3. There is persistent avoidance by the PTSD sufferer of things associated with the traumatic event;
  4. There are persistent symptoms;
  5. The duration of the symptoms last more than one month; and
  6. There is significant impairment of the PTSD sufferer in social, occupational or other important areas of life.

The DSM-IV defines “traumatic events” for purposes of diagnosing PTSD as an event that involves actual or threatened death or serious injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of self or others. The PTSD sufferer’s response involves intense fear, helplessness or horror.

When many people experience a catastrophic accident, they tend to rightly focus on the physical injuries they may have sustained. However, as demonstrated above, ignoring the mental injuries (which can become physical injuries) can be a significant mistake leading to adverse consequences. PTSD is a real and significant condition that must be addressed and taken seriously.

If you or a loved one has been in an accident, you need to aggressive and highly-skilled legal representation. Finding the right lawyer can help you achieve the just compensation you deserve. A good lawyer will know good doctors who in turn will conduct a thorough medical examination. While the road to justice can be long and winding, it should not be made more difficult than necessary.