Anyone who has ever been involved in a serious car accident is probably marked for life, but not necessarily in a physical way. There are many unseen consequences of car accidents which cannot be seen in an X-ray or quantified in any size, shape, or form. These are the psychiatric or mental injuries, sometimes called mental anguish, and come under the punitive side of personal injury awards when it involves tortious conduct such as drunk driving.
According to the website of Atlanta truck accident attorneys at the Ausband & Dumont Law Firm, psychiatric disorders and symptoms that result from car accidents take many forms, and are much harder to address than physical hurts. Some studies peg 18% of respondents as developing a fear of driving over as long as 6 years, some to a such a degree that it was considered phobic, which can significantly impact the mobility of these individuals. A significant percentage (20%) of those involved in moderate to severe road accidents who suffered serious, multiple injuries developed acute symptoms of depression and anxiety immediately after the occurrence, which could persist up to 12 months.
The exceptions were for those who were permanently disabled, and their emotional distress was directly tied to their physical suffering. For a majority of those who suffered psychiatric distress, the symptoms were disabling and had significant impact on their personalities in the duration. A minority satisfied the criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder.
In many jurisdictions, mental anguish is taken in consideration when determining the extent of the defendant’s liability in terms of compensation. This is why in a majority of civil litigation finding for the plaintiff, the punitive damages often exceed that of economic damages i.e. medical and hospital expenses. While it may be tempting to disregard the claims of mental pain and suffering as frivolous for those who have not experienced the trauma of car accidents, experienced personal injury lawyers know better, and strive to protect the rights of these victims to fair and just compensation. Indeed, these kinds of unseen traumas are real and often impact a victim’s life in ways that a physical injury never could.