Motor accidents can very regularly result in catastrophic loss and far reaching consequences, with death possible in more extreme motor vehicle accidents. Although more frequently associated with physical trauma, motor vehicle accidents can have another negative, and even more damaging, effect – psychological trauma.

Psychological issues arise out of motor accidents due to the trauma, not only from the injuries potentially sustained during the accident, but the suddenness of the accident. Psychological issues can vary significantly between drivers and passengers depending on the type of accident, the specific circumstances of the accident, and the events leading up to and the events that occur after the accident. Psychological symptoms such as guilt, anxiety and insomnia are common after an accident, but these symptoms can develop into much more troubling issues.

These issues can result in sufferers missing work, school, and from driving again, which has huge potential to disrupt important regular schedules and appointments.

The development of serious psychological issues

When psychological symptoms are more serious than the jitters, it might be important to sit down with a doctor to discuss any relevant symptoms. Serious psychological issues that can result from a motor accident can include:

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Post-traumatic stress disorder occurs as a response to a potentially traumatic event, of which a motor vehicle accident can very easily qualify. Sufferers of PTSD can experience intense, frightening flashbacks or nightmares of the motor accident, which can in turn cause insomnia.

The New South Wales State Insurance Regulatory Body defines the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder involving at least “one intrusive symptom, plus one avoidance symptom, plus two negative alterations in mood or cognition, plus two hyper-arousal symptoms.” These symptoms need to be present more than a month to be able to qualify as PTSD. It is also important to remember that these effects may not necessarily occur immediately after an accident.

Acute Stress Disorder (ASD)

Acute stress disorder is similar to post traumatic stress disorder, and can result in sufferers experiencing intrusive thoughts, negative mood, avoidance dissociation, and hyper-arousal. ASD has the potential to last from three days to one month after the accident.


Depression can very easily occur after an accident occurs, particularly for those responsible for a motor accident. A preliminary feeling of guilt can become unshakeable and eventually spiral into long-term depression, where sadness and lethargy have the power to negatively affect your life.


Anxiety is common for victims to experience after a traumatic accident, and may necessitate medication or counselling depending on the severity of the anxiety. Sufferers of anxiety tend to experience feelings of worry, anxiousness, or even fear to the point where daily activities are affected.

Understanding when you’re suffering psychological trauma

Even if you don’t personally believe you’ve experiencedpsychological issues immediately after a crash, it does not always mean that you haven’t. Consulting a healthcare professional is an important step to ensuring your psychological wellbeing after a motor vehicle accident, and the early detection of a disorder will help sufferers significantly in the long run.

Academic studies have found that “trauma-related (motor vehicle injuries) are associated with elevated psychological distress that can continue years after the injury.” With this being the case, it’s important that psychological injuries receive the attention they deserve – while wounds may heal, a debilitating injury like post-traumatic stress disorder may continue long into the future, affecting day-to-day tasks in addition to general mental health.

The potential for sufferers of motor accidents to suffer is compounded by several factors, as indicated by research undertaken in Australia. It was found that “(r)esults provide compelling evidence that psychological distress has an adverse impact on people with musculoskeletal injury as they progress through compensation. Findings suggest that additional resources should be directed toward claimants who are at risk (eg, the socially disadvantaged or those unemployed prior to the claim), the major aim being to reduce risk of psychological distress, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, and associated risk of increased settlement times and claim costs.”

Don’t wait any longer

It’s important to remember that psychological issues can be just as damaging as physical ones. If you are suffering psychological damage after a motor vehicle accident, and wish to pursue rightful compensation for distress, the lawyers at Paramount are here to support you. Get in touch with our friendly team today to take the first step towards betterment.

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