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The Physical and Mental Trauma Caused by Motor Vehicle Accidents

When you hear the term “post-traumatic stress disorder,” you likely think of war veterans or victims of violent crime. Certainly, experiencing PTSD is common for people in these two groups. But another large group likely to develop PTSD is often overlooked: car accident victims.

According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were about 2.3 million injuries suffered in U.S. car accidents in 2013, including 32,000 people who died as a result of their injuries. Among those who survived, it is estimated that about 30 percent have developed long-lasting psychological issues. In addition to PTSD, the list includes depression and anxiety.

California readers may remember a high-profile truck accident that happened one year ago this month. While riding in a limousine on the New Jersey Turnpike, comedian Tracy Morgan and others were struck by a Walmart tractor-trailer with a dangerously fatigued driver behind the wheel. Morgan has not made many public statements or appearances since the accident, which killed fellow comedian James McNair (a.k.a. Jimmy Mack) and severely injured Morgan. He has, however, settled a lawsuit against Walmart.

In recent days, Tracy Morgan has started to speak publicly about the crash and about his recovery. In addition to broken bones and a traumatic brain injury, Morgan is dealing with the grief of losing his friend and emotional trauma associated with the crash. Mental health experts say that victims can experience PTSD and other emotional trauma even if they can’t remember the incident that caused it, which seems to be the case for Morgan.

In the aftermath of a motor vehicle accident, victims often suffer physical injuries (which can include permanent disability) and emotional trauma. Restoring health and mental health is often a long and difficult process and one that may be very expensive. For these and other reasons, car accident victims and their families may wish to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney to better understand their rights and legal options.

Source: Live Science, “Tracy Morgan Car Accident: Crashes Leave Many with Emotional Scars,” Tia Ghose, June 2, 2015

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