The number of motorcycles registered in the U.S., about 8.7 million according to the most recent data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, attests to their popularity for recreation and as an economical way to make the daily commute to work. Motorcyclists know the risk inherent in riding on a vehicle that leaves them open to suffering serious and life-threatening injuries in an accident.
The NHTSA reports that motorcyclists suffer fatal injuries 28 percent more frequently than do the occupants of other types of vehicles offering more protection. Nonfatal injuries include head trauma and bone fractures, but a hidden and frequently undiagnosed injury experienced by up to 28 percent of victims of serious motor vehicle collisions is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Whether you are a rider involved in a serious collision or have a loved one injured in a crash, getting the proper help begins by recognizing the warning signs of PTSD after a motorcycle accident.
“Fender bender” is a term rarely used to describe a motorcycle accident. A collision between a motorcycle and a car or truck traveling at a low speed can send the rider crashing to the pavement or into a guardrail or other stationary object. For some people, a serious motorcycle accident could create a fear of riding, but for others, the experience could also cause them to experience anxiety, depression and other serious psychological conditions related to PTSD after a motorcycle accident.
A motorcycle crash may cause a person to experience symptoms similar to those associated with a diagnosis of PTSD, including the following:
- Flashbacks to the traumatic event
- Bad dreams, nightmares or difficulty sleeping
- Frightening and distressing thoughts
- Avoiding reminders of the accident, including places, things or events
- Attempting to block thoughts or feelings relating to the accident
- Excessive drinking or other self-destructive behaviors
- Inability to focus and concentrate
- Always being alert to danger or being easily startled
- Aggressive behavior, including irritability or uncontrolled anger
- Impaired memory
- Avoiding friends, relatives and social activities
Some of the symptoms are normal following a serious accident, but they usually go away in a matter of days. Victims of an accident exhibiting any of these symptoms for at least a month after an accident should seek a medical evaluation to determine if they have PTSD. Symptoms associated with PTSD after a motorcycle accident may last for months or years unless properly diagnosed and treated.
The diagnosis of PTSD usually begins with a physical examination to rule out any medical cause for the symptoms. After ruling out a medical cause, the next step in the diagnostic process is a psychological evaluation to review the symptoms and the accident that occurred prior to their development. Doctors use the criteria for diagnosis of PTSD as published by the American Psychiatric Association in the most recent edition of its “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.”
Treatment of PTSD after a motorcycle accident usually relies upon counseling and psychotherapy. When appropriate, doctors might rely upon medications to control some of the symptoms, including antidepressants and medications to control anxiety. The goal of treatment is to help accident victims develop the skills and methods to cope with their symptoms and with memories of the event.
If you recognize any of the symptoms of PTSD in yourself or in a loved one who has been in an accident, it is important to be evaluated by a medical professional. While not everyone exposed to the trauma of a serious motorcycle accident develops PTSD, 10 percent of women and 4 percent of men develop PTSD at least once during their lifetime.
It’s not only the operator of a motorcycle who is susceptible to developing PTSD following a crash. If you witness someone being killed or seriously injured, you have a 7.3 percent chance of developing PTSD. Other individuals who could develop PTSD after a motorcycle accident include:
- Injured or uninjured passengers on motorcycles involved in a violent crash
- Bystanders or emergency personnel who assisted victims injured or killed in an accident
- Drivers and passengers of other vehicles involved the crash
- Family members confronted by the death or serious injury of a loved
PTSD affects your ability to function at your job and takes a toll on your relationships with family and friends. Studies have shown PTSD to increase the risk of death from suicide.
If you are diagnosed with PTSD, your personal injury attorney will seek to include the cost of diagnosis and treatment of the disorder, including future medical and psychological treatment and therapy, in the compensation sought from the party whose negligence caused you to be injured. The long-term impact of PTSD on your life could affect the settlement of your claim by including wages lost from being unable to work following the accident. It could also include reduced future earnings if the PTSD prevents you from returning to work or places limitations on the type or amount of work you are capable of doing.
An experienced motorcycle accident attorney is your best source for information about your right to compensation following a serious motorcycle accident. If you have been diagnosed with PTSD after a motorcycle accident, contact Michael Padway & Associates to learn more during a free consultation and case evaluation.