Are You Suffering from PTSD After a Fort Walton Beach Car Accident?

Any accident can be characterized as a traumatic event. Car accidents are no exception. Even the slightest accident can cause the average driver to replay the what-if game. In some cases, this can lead to a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

What Is PTSD?

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, PTSD is a disorder that develops in people who have experienced a shocking, scary, or dangerous event. 

The feeling of distress stems from the instantaneous fight-or-flight response triggered by hormones in the sympathetic nervous system after a high-stimulus event.

The severity of the event can contribute to the development of PTSD. 

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of PTSD?

Symptoms of PTSD often begin within three months of the traumatic incident. However, delayed-onset PTSD can occur years after the inciting event.

For the trauma to be considered PTSD, symptoms typically must last longer than one month and affect an individual’s ability to function.

The American Psychiatric Association places PTSD into 4 categories:


Intrusion occurs when the incident repeatedly and uncontrollably affects a person’s thoughts. 

Symptoms of intrusive memories include reliving the event as if it was happening again, severe flashbacks, and upsetting dreams/nightmares.


Avoidance is defined as staying away from things that could remind the victim of the traumatic event. A person who is facing avoidance may be unable to think about or talk about the traumatic experience.

Alterations in Cognition and Mood

Victims of PTSD may be faced with distorted thoughts about the event. Other symptoms that fall into this category include: 

  • Failing to remember important details about the event
  • Distorted feelings towards oneself or others
  • Distorted thoughts leading to self-blame
  • Less interest in previous activities
  • Feelings of detachment
  • Ongoing feelings of shame

These symptoms can be severe, affecting relationships and leading to anxiety or depression.

Alterations in Arousal and Activity

These symptoms refer to a change in one’s physical and emotional reactions. They may include:

  • Being easily frightened
  • Always being on guard for danger
  • Behaving recklessly
  • Sleeping disorders
  • Inability to focus
  • Aggressive outbursts and irritability

Victims may face one or more of these reactions at the same time.

Can Car Accident Victims Recover Compensation for PTSD?

Florida is a no-fault state, which means that drivers are required to file personal injury claims with their own insurer, regardless of who is at fault for the accident.

However, Florida allows victims to step out of the no-fault system if the victim suffers any of the following types of injuries:

  • Significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function
  • Permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability
  • Significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement
  • Death

A victim who suffers from PTSD may be able to claim that their PTSD arose as a result of the accident. PTSD victims may even be able to claim that the injuries led to lost wages or impacted their performance at work.

However, as with many issues that surround mental health, the road to compensation for an injury like PTSD might be difficult. A victim will need an official diagnosis and will likely have to call in an expert witness to substantiate their diagnosis. 

If you’ve faced severe or life-altering consequences from your car accident, it’s a good idea to reach out to a knowledgeable attorney who can help you to file a claim for damages.

Contact Our Car Accident Law Firm in Northwest Florida

If you need legal assistance, contact the Fort Walton Beach car accident lawyers at Brannon & Brannon Car Accident & Personal Injury Lawyers at your nearest location to schedule a free consultation today.

We have two convenient locations in Northwest Florida:

Brannon & Brannon Car Accident & Personal Injury Lawyers – Fort Walton Beach Office
975 Mar Walt Dr
Fort Walton Beach, FL 32547
(850) 863-5297

Brannon & Brannon Car Accident & Personal Injury Lawyers – Destin Office
4507 Furling Ln Suite 214
Destin, FL 32541
(850) 790-0243