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A Primer on PTSD and Personal Injury Claims: Part I

January 18 2019 | Blog
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, affects millions of Americans every year. In this two-part article, we will explore the psychological aspects of this disorder, as well as legal insight for those who suffered PTSD following an accident caused by someone else’s negligent or reckless behavior.

     

    It is estimated that up to 70% of all American adults – or as many as 223.4 million people – have experienced some type of traumatic event at least once in their lives. While many are able to recover from the emotional impact of a tragic occurrence, up to a fifth of all trauma survivors go on to develop a psychological condition called post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. At any given moment, an estimated 24.4 million – an equivalent of the population of Texas – are suffering from this emotionally crippling condition. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) defines this disorder as “intense, disturbing thoughts and feelings related to … [a traumatic] experience that last long after the traumatic event has ended”.

    Hughes & Coleman Injury Lawyers are deeply sympathetic to those who are affected by this serious psychological condition. We are determined to extend our professional help to survivors of serious accidents who, through no fault of their own, are suffering not only from psychical injuries but also from emotional damage. In this two-part article, victims and their families will find more information about post-traumatic stress disorder. We will also examine some of the legal avenues they can explore in order to obtain financial compensation for their injuries.

     

    Historical Perspectives and Public Perceptions

    Historically, the collective symptoms now described as PTSD have often been associated with survivors of combat situations. For example, the soldiers who experienced “shell shock” in World War I or “combat fatigue” in World War II, would likely be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder by a modern psychiatrist. However, it wasn’t until 1980 that PTSD was officially recognized as a distinctive psychological disorder. That year, it was added to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – an important reference work that helps clinicians and psychiatrists to diagnose psychiatric illnesses.

    Even so, public knowledge about PTSD remains somewhat hazy. While the term itself is highly recognizable, the true nature of the disorder has been obscured – or even distorted – by its representation in popular culture. For example, one of the common misconceptions about this serious psychological issue is that only military combat survivors – such as the veterans injured in Iraq or Afghanistan – can experience it. While it is true that many veterans suffer from the disorder, the American Psychiatric Association states that, in fact, PTSD can occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a wide variety of traumatic events including natural disasters, a serious accident, a terrorist act, rape, or other violent personal assault. The APA also notes that even indirect exposure to a trauma – such as learning about a violent death of a family member – can trigger PTSD.

    In the next article, we will examine closely the signs and symptoms of PTSD. We will also learn how a person suffering from PTSD following an accident can prove it in a personal injury lawsuit.

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