When you have been involved in a car accident, some injuries are immediately visible, like fractures, cuts, and abrasions. However, some injuries are not visible and can have devastating consequences. These “invisible” injuries include concussion, chronic pain, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

This article will examine some of these injuries and how they may impact you after a car accident.

What is a Concussion?

A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury resulting in degrees of confusion, dizziness and other symptoms. During a car accident, even if you don’t actually hit your head, your brain can suffer trauma leading to concussion.

Common symptoms of a concussion are:

  • Headache or pressure in the head
  • Confusion or feeling dazed
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Blurred vision or ringing in the ears
  • Difficulty concentrating or remembering
  • Fatigue or drowsiness
  • Sensitivity to light or noise
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Mood changes, such as irritability, anxiety, or depression

If you suspect you have sustained a concussion or are experiencing concussion-type symptoms, it is important that you seek immediate medical attention.

While many concussions resolve with rest and time, in some cases they can lead to lasting, debilitating injuries. For instance, post-concussion syndrome (PCS) is a condition that may occur after a person has experienced a concussion, such as from a blow to the head or a car accident. Symptoms can include headaches, dizziness, fatigue, memory problems, difficulty concentrating, irritability, and sensitivity to light and noise. These symptoms can persist for months or even years after the initial injury and can severely impact the injured person’s ability to work, support their family around the home, and enjoy their everyday life.

What is Chronic Pain?

Generally, the term “chronic pain” refers to pain in a particular area of the body, often the neck, shoulders or back, for an extended period of time (eg: six months).

Chronic pain can have severe, long-term consequences for an accident victim including pain, soreness, weakness, reduced range of motion, fatigue, and emotional difficulties. Unfortunately, chronic pain is very difficult to treat medically and can represent a lifetime struggle to those individuals that suffer from it.

What is Depression?

A vehicle accident can cause a wide range of emotions, from fear and shock, over anger and confusion to anxiety and sadness. You might be worried about how your injuries impact your work, home or financial life. You might feel anger toward the other driver who caused the accident. Sometimes, these emotions from a car accident don’t go away with time.

Common depression symptoms can include:

  • Feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, or guilt
  • Feeling persistently sad, empty, or anxious
  • Losing interest in activities or hobbies you used to enjoy
  • Trouble concentrating, making decisions, or remembering things
  • Thoughts of suicide or death or attempting suicide
  • Low energy, as if everything is “slowed down,” or fatigue
  • Low or loss of appetite or weight loss
  • Overeating or weight gain
  • Insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Irritability or feelings of restlessness
  • Physical issues like pain, digestive problems, or headaches that don’t respond well to treatment or can’t be explained in another way

Car accident victims might have lasting memories or thoughts of the accident, constant or excessive worry or anxiety, a constant feeling of unease, or fear of seeing doctors or keeping medical tests done.

Depression or other mental health issues can also impact how you heal and recover after the accident.

It is important to seek medical advice if you are suffering from symptoms of depression to ensure you receive proper care and referrals to specialists. In the event your depression results from a car accident, your auto insurance coverage may provide funding for psychological and other emotional support.

What is PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder)?

PTSD is a mental health condition that can develop after a person has experienced or witnessed a traumatic event, such as a car accident, and can have a significant impact on an individual’s daily life, relationships, and overall well-being. PTSD is characterized by a range of symptoms that persist for an extended period after the traumatic event. These symptoms are generally grouped into four main clusters:

Intrusive Memories: Individuals with PTSD often experience intrusive memories of the traumatic event. These memories can be distressing and vivid recollections of the accident that intrude upon their thoughts unexpectedly.

Avoidance Behaviours: To cope with the distressing memories and emotions associated with the accident, individuals with PTSD may engage in avoidance behaviours. This can include avoiding situations, places, people, or activities that remind them of the traumatic event.

Negative Changes in Thoughts and Mood: PTSD often leads to adverse changes in an individual’s beliefs and emotions. They may develop a negative outlook on themselves, others, and the world. This can manifest as feelings of guilt, shame, or self-blame related to the accident. Individuals with PTSD may also experience persistent negative emotions, such as fear, anger, or sadness, which can interfere with their ability to experience joy or satisfaction in life.

Arousal and Reactivity Symptoms: PTSD can cause heightened arousal and reactivity to stimuli. Individuals may become hypervigilant, constantly on edge, and easily startled. They may also experience irritability, anger outbursts, or difficulty sleeping.

Signs of PTSD after a car accident may include:

  • Intrusive memories or flashbacks of the accident
  • Nightmares related to the accident
  • Avoidance of places, people, or activities associated with the accident
  • Negative changes in beliefs or feelings, such as self-blame or guilt
  • Hyperarousal, including irritability, difficulty sleeping, or being easily startled
  • Emotional numbness or detachment
  • Difficulty concentrating or remembering details of the accident

The Importance of Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer

You would be well served to do your research to make sure to choose a lawyer with experience in personal injury claims. Due to the intricacies of personal injury law, it is important to hire a lawyer with relevant experience in the area. Just as you wouldn’t want a cardiologist to perform knee surgery, you wouldn’t want a tax lawyer to handle a personal injury lawsuit.

Hiring an experienced car accident lawyer is critical for several reasons. Given the complexity of personal injury law, you need a lawyer to help you navigate the legal process and the insurance scheme that governs it. Also, the insurance company on the opposing side will attempt to reduce your compensation or avoid paying you entirely, so it is important to have an experienced lawyer with both negotiation and trial experience. Even though most personal injury cases are settled without a trial and still give you compensation, it is crucial that your lawyer can also represent you in court with confidence.

How a Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help

If you or a loved one is suffering from the consequences of an injury, whether a “visible” injury like a spinal cord injury or orthopaedic injury, or an “invisible” injury like a concussion or PTSD, you may be able to take legal action in the form of a personal injury lawsuit. Call the brain injury lawyers of Beyond Law today for a free and confidential consultation. Call us at 416.613.1225 or fill out our convenient online form.

Beyond Law offers free, no-obligation consultation sessions to identify potential compensation paths and help you understand the law and your rights.

Wherever you live in Ontario, Beyond Law is here to help in your time of need.

About the Authors

  • Josh Nisker

    Josh is a founding partner of Beyond Law. He is recognized as one of the Top Lawyers in Toronto by Post City Magazines. He strives to build and maintain trust with his clients by being attentive, responsive and honest at all times. He also frequently mentors other practicing lawyers through the Law Society of Ontario.

  • Kate Mazzucco

    Kate is the co-founder of Beyond Law who has more than 15 years of experience in personal injury law. She believes that every client is unique and so are their losses and needs. Therefore, she represents every client with a personalized approach tailored to them as an individual.