If you’re dealing with the aftermath of a serious car crash, getting treatment for your injuries and doing everything you can to help your body heal can be a full-time job. It may be some time before you realize that you’re not recovering emotionally.
One psychologist who focuses on treating trauma and has written about recovering from a crash notes, “The emotional, physical, legal, and financial effects of a crash can be catastrophic for survivors and their families.”
He notes that survivors sometimes “feel like they’ve been transported to another planet where they’re drowning in a sea of pain and heightened emotion….[and] begin to wonder if they will ever get back to fully living and enjoying life.”
Why a car crash can be considered a traumatic event
Crash survivors can and do experience trauma after a crash. Even having a split-second fear that you might die can cause trauma. So can being trapped in the car or at the scene.
Crashes can make people feel like they have little or no control over their life. That can be particularly true if you’re a safe driver who did everything right and still got involved in a crash because of the actions or negligence of another driver.
Should you get psychological help?
Not everyone who has been involved in a crash should seek the help of a psychologist or other mental health professional. However, if you find yourself overwhelmed with continued emotions like anger, sadness and fear, it may be worth talking with someone who has experience helping people who have suffered traumatic events like car crashes.
Even if the crash was the other driver’s fault, it’s not uncommon for some people to feel guilt and regret that if they’d only done something different (like not making that trip to the store), it wouldn’t have happened.
If you’re seeking compensation from an at-fault driver and their insurer, you have as much right to ask them to cover your psychological care as your physical care. That’s just one reason why you shouldn’t reach a settlement until you know the full costs of the crash for you. Having legal guidance can help you maximize your claim.