The New York Times
The Washington Post
USA Today
San Jose Mercury News
CBS This Morning

Psychological Injuries Caused by Car Accidents

Boy CryingCar crashes can cause a wide range of serious physical injuries, such as broken bones, whiplash, and head trauma. However, even after these types of injuries heal, survivors are still often left with emotional scars and psychological injuries that, in many cases, are much more difficult to treat.

Emotional and Mental Injuries

Some of the most common psychological injuries that car accident victims sustain include:

  • Mental anguish;
  • Emotional distress;
  • Acute stress disorder;
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder;
  • Depression; and
  • Anxiety.

The severity of the trauma will depend largely on the details of the particular accident, such as whether or not a serious injury or death resulted. However, there are some standard symptoms that are indicative of a psychological disorder, including:

  • Loss of appetite;
  • Weight fluctuations;
  • Sexual dysfunction;
  • Mood swings;
  • Lack of energy;
  • Changes in sleep patterns;
  • Extreme anger; and
  • Bouts of crying.

It is much more difficult to establish a link between a car crash and psychological injuries than it is to prove a physical injury, such as a broken arm. This is due to the fact that many individuals are not immediately aware of the extent of the emotional trauma they sustained as a result of an accident and so do not seek treatment until much later. Severe mental and emotional injuries must still be proved with medical testimony, however, so personal as well as expert testimonies are vital in proving that a psychological injury occurred as a result of the accident.


Minor claims of emotional distress may not result in substantial awards. However, more serious claims of psychological injury, such as those requiring mental health treatment, may proportionally increase a victim’s damages to compensate him or her for the medical bills associated with treatment. Juries may even recognize a claim for lost earnings in severe cases where a victim’s mental anguish is so serious that he or she is unable to sustain employment.

In California, uninsured drivers cannot recover non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, even if the other driver’s negligence or wrongful act was the sole cause of the crash. One important exception to this rule applies when the negligent driver was operating his or her vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol and was later convicted of DUI. In such a situation, the uninsured party may still recover non-economic damages from the at-fault party.

Time Limits

In California, the victim of another person’s negligence has only two years from the date of the accident to file a claim against a negligent party. A failure to file within this time limit will result in the claim being barred, which means that a victim will be unable to pursue recovery in court.

Psychological injuries that are sustained as a result of a car crash can be devastating for victims and their families. If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident, an experienced attorney may be able to help you obtain compensation for the emotional or mental harm you suffered. Please contact the dedicated San Jose personal injury attorneys at Corsiglia, McMahon & Allard, L.L.P. for a free consultation at (408) 289-1417.

Client Reviews
I absolutely cannot speak highly enough of CMA Law, particularly of Mr. McMahon, with whom I have had the most experience. My entire family and I trusted CMA with our case following a significant and life-altering vehicle accident, and to say they delivered is putting it lightly. They were reachable & personable at every stage of this arduous, complex, and scary process, made things easier at every stage, inspired us with confidence, and delivered results. If you're looking for a law firm to place the trust of you in your family in, look absolutely no further than CMA - this is your firm. Declan O.
I suffered a severe spinal injury while working as a farm mechanic in the Salinas Valley. The attorneys -Tim McMahon and Mark Sigala were fantastic from the beginning. They fought for me over 3 long years and in the end, we won a difficult liability case against the farm company who was using dangerous equipment. The defendants in the case tried everything to put the blame on me and even claimed I was their employee in order to avoid civil responsibility. Tim and Mark never gave up on me and my case. I cannot recommend them highly enough. They are fighters. Adrian A.
Best Law Firms
American Board of Trial Advocates
2010 Street Fighter of The Year Award Finalists
Irish Legal 100
The Best Lawyers in America
Santa Clara County Bar
Super Lawyers
The National Trial Lawyers
California Lawyer
Top One
Santa Clara County Trial Lawyers Association
Public Justice Trial Lawyer of The Year