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Dealing with PTSD as the result of an accident

When litigating personal injury cases, we have to recognize that not all injuries are physical and therefore apparent. Many people who are victims of an accident or some other cause of an injury find themselves suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD.

PTSD is a recognized mental health condition that is experienced by people who are involved in or even witnesses a scary, traumatic event. The feelings of fear and anxiety often occur years after the event happened and have to be treated by mental health care professionals.

Since PTSD does not generally have any physical manifestations that can be easily proved in court, such as X rays, proving that a victim of an accident or some other event has the disorder mainly depends on the testimony of an expert witness. That witness would likely be a therapist who diagnosed the PTSD that the plaintiff is suffering from. 

The expert witness will have to testify as to a number of facts, including the triggering event and the degree of disability that the plaintiff is suffering because of the PTSD, including specific behaviors the disorder is causing that impact his or her ability to carry on a normal life. Does the plaintiff exhibit bouts of anxiety, flashbacks, and other behaviors that can be attributed to the triggering event?

The defendant will be able to call upon his or her own expert witness to attempt to refute the diagnosis of PTSD in the plaintiff. The defense expert witness will also likely be a mental health professional who will have access to any evaluation that the plaintiff underwent.

One of the problems with claiming PTSD as a personal injury is that often the diagnosis is considered subjective under the law, even though it is a recognized disorder suffered by thousands of war veterans and victims of crime and accidents. Ultimately, the jury is likely to be called upon to make the determination as to whether the plaintiff has PTSD and wants relief he or she is due as a result.

Because the nature of personal injury claims is complex, any victim of an accident will almost certainly need the help of an experienced attorney to help prove that he or she has suffered physical and psychological injuries in order to receive proper justice in court.

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