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Emotional Distress After a Car Accident: Can You Recover?

Anyone who has been in a car accident knows that it can be an extremely traumatic experience. While physical injuries incurred in an accident may be readily apparent, for many people the post-accident trauma can also manifest all sorts of psychological and emotional symptoms.

The symptoms of emotional distress may not be as easy to recognize as physical symptoms, but they can be every bit as debilitating. Severe emotional distress following a car accident can last for months, years, or even a lifetime. Whether or not a person experiences physical injuries as the result of a car accident, the potential for suffering emotional fallout is very real.

Common Types of Post-Accident Emotional Distress

Emotional distress and mental anguish following a car crash can impact your life in a variety of ways. The following are just some of the possible disorders and symptoms that could occur in automobile accident victims.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, often referred to as PTSD or shell shock, is triggered by experiencing or witnessing an event that caused terror in the victim. Common symptoms of PTSD include:

  • Reliving the traumatic event over and over
  • Feeling emotionally detached
  • Increased drinking and/or drug use
  • Recurring nightmares about the event
  • Avoiding places or situations that remind the victim of the event
  • Increased irritability and/or aggression
  • Memory loss
  • Suicidal thoughts


Anxiety often accompanies physical injury, but this is not always the case. Going through or witnessing a traumatic event can cause anxiety, even when the victim themself does not suffer physical trauma. Common symptoms of anxiety include:

  • Nervousness and restlessness
  • Panic attacks
  • Hyperventilating
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Feeling that something bad is going to happen at any time
  • Feeling tense
  • Vehophobia (fear of driving)


Depression is more than a temporary sadness. A person with depression may have persistent feelings of being off kilter, of not feeling like oneself, of not being able to shake off an overwhelming sadness. Depression is more than merely being down in the dumps. Common indications of depression are:

  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of interest in activities that formerly provided pleasure
  • Loss off appetite
  • Increase in appetite
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Feelings of guilt
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Suicide attempts

A Colorado Springs Car Accident Lawyer Can Evaluate Your Case

Under Colorado law, emotional distress is considered a non-economic damage. Therefore, there are statutory limits on recovery. There are also burden of proof requirements specific to claims of this kind.

This does not mean that you won’t recover for your emotional injuries. What it does mean is that there are added hurdles to jump over when attempting to prove car accident-induced emotional distress. Showing a court that you suffered real trauma and the extent that it has adversely affected your life in a severe emotional way is not easy or formulaic. It takes experience and skill.

We invite you to seek the advice of a Colorado Springs car accident lawyer to assess your case and help you determine what avenues might exist for recovery. Please reach out to the attorneys at Levine Law at 719-471-3000 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.

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