A wide range of studies over the last several years has indicated that more accident survivors than you might imagine end up suffering long-term emotional distress after their crashes, even when there are no lasting physical injuries involved.
As a long-time Pennsylvania motorcycle accident lawyer, this doesn’t particularly surprise me. I’ve seen the emotional toll even a relatively minor crash can take, including anxiety, PTSD, depression – even phobias – over the course of my career.
I understand how devastating these emotional effects can be, even if there don’t appear to be lasting physical injuries.
The stress, anxiety, and mental anguish that are the tangential results of a personal injury can sometimes be considered a compensable personal injury themselves, depending on the nature of the injury, and on a medical diagnosis.
Motorcycle accident pain and suffering is the term for the types of damages I seek to recover for my clients in these cases.
Proving Mental and Emotional Injuries
The post-accident anxiety and distress often takes the fun out of stress free riding and in some cases, depending on the severity of the injury, I have had clients never get back on their bike.
Because frequently no outward indications of injury (broken bones, bruises, road rash) accompany it, proving you’re suffering mental or emotional anguish can be difficult.
We typically go about this by asking the client’s psychiatrist, psychologist, or therapist to provide written testimony or to testify in person if necessary.
Insurance providers tend to accept mental and emotional injury claims only if the claim seems proportionate to any physical injuries, and to the severity of the accident.
If your mental anguish claim seems out of proportion with your physical injuries, it might hurt your credibility, which is why it is important to have a medical professional testify as to the effects it has had on your life.
As with any medical treatment after a crash, keep your receipts for medication and bills for therapy, and if you are so depressed or anxious that you can’t work, be sure to document that as well.
If you claim that you are too scared to get back on the road, have significantly reduced appetite, aren’t sleeping, and/or have crying jags, but don’t have proof that you have sought treatment, insurers and juries will not take your claim seriously.
So, my advice as a Pennsylvania motorcycle lawyer is to factor in the possibility of PTSD or anxiety up front when you’ve been in an accident, and to get evaluated by a mental health professional as soon as possible.
How Mental and Emotional Injuries Could Affect Your Damages
While most claims for mental and emotional injuries don’t play much of a role in determining your damages, relatively severe claims can definitely increase medical bill and lost wages awards enough to make pursuing this line of attack worthwhile.
After all, if your PTSD or anxiety is truly the result of your accident, you will definitely spend money to treat it and you have the right to be compensated for those losses.
If you end up on anti-anxiety medication or antidepressants, those costs can add up quickly.
The most important thing to remember in all of this is that your emotional health is just as important as your physical health.
As bikers, we like to imagine that we’re a bunch of bad asses who live up to our reputation for toughness. In fact, even tough guys get the blues, especially if we’ve been involved in something as frightening and disruptive as a motorcycle accident.
There is no more shame in seeking mental health treatment than there would be for having a doctor set a broken bone, and it could have a real effect on the amount of your compensation.
For more information about how anxiety, stress, PTSD, and other mental and emotional injuries can affect your case, call Pennsylvania motorcycle accident lawyer Lee Gaber, Esquire at 1-888-292-5352, for a free consultation.