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Can I Recover Damages for Emotional Distress After a Truck Accident?

A terrified female driver as seen through her side view mirror as an accident is about to occur.

The nightmare of an accident is magnified when a truck is involved. The damage these cumbersome vehicles can cause is exponentially more than that of another car. Many victims find themselves feeling fearful after an accident. Serious injury, entrapment, and fatalities escalate emotional trauma.

The harrowing experience of a motor vehicle collision can leave people feeling anxious, angry, and depressed. A personal injury lawyer can help recover damages for emotional distress from an accident that was not your fault by filing a claim for pain and suffering. Seeking medical attention for mental anguish from a psychologist, psychiatrist, counselor, or other licensed mental health specialist will significantly help to support both you and your claim for damages. Keeping a journal of your daily activities and how you feel is also helpful in proving that your change in mental status was caused by the accident.

How to Handle Psychological Damage From a Car Accident

It takes time to recover from an accident. Wounds will heal, and so will your mind. Giving yourself time to accept what has happened and learning to live with any lasting changes are important for your healing process.

  • Ask for help and support. Try to avoid going through this life-altering event by yourself. Talk to your family and friends, find a therapist, and hire a lawyer to handle your claim for you.
  • Be realistic about what happened and how your life has changed.
  • Allow yourself to feel all the emotions that come with a traumatic experience. This permission is critical if you lost someone close to you as a result of the accident. Allow yourself to grieve for them and also for yourself.
  • Talk to the other survivors of your accident or from similar accidents. Sharing your experience can help you cope.
  • Keep a healthy routine to avoid depression. Convincing yourself to keep going just one step at a time is vital for your recovery. Depression can make you feel like doing nothing. The best way to overcome this is to keep going; a healthy routine will give you small attainable goals.
  • Stay optimistic about your future. You survived, and you will continue to improve. Try to find a purpose to focus on while you recover.

Reactions to Trauma

Trauma and emotional distress can impact your life in numerous ways. If you are experiencing any of the following, seek professional help from a mental healthcare provider.

Post-Traumatic Stress

Truck accidents are often severe due to the size and weight of these vehicles. Victims feel frightened after the experience because their lives were threatened. Post-traumatic stress disorder is very real and more common than most people know. According to the Mayo Clinic, it can easily develop after an accident, especially when life-altering injuries and deaths occur. You may be experiencing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder if you have noticed any of the following:

  • An increased heart rate or feelings of anxiety when thinking about your accident
  • The need to avoid the location of your accident or to avoid driving or even being in a car
  • Becoming hypervigilant of your surroundings, especially in traffic
  • Reactive to loud noises, specifically traffic noises
  • Feeling jumpy or easily startled
  • Flashbacks or nightmares about the accident
  • Becoming stressed or on edge when in or around vehicles

These reactions are your body’s natural defense having been activated after a traumatic event. Your body is trying to avoid a similar event by defending against any real or perceived dangers related to the experience.

Having these symptoms does not mean you have post-traumatic stress disorder. These feelings are normal and should fade in time. If they do not fade and continue to strengthen, you could be developing post-traumatic stress disorder. You should seek professional help quickly to keep the situation from escalating out of control.


Many people feel anxious after surviving a vehicle crash. Anxiety is more than simply feeling fearful. You may feel worried, tense, or quick to anger. It may prevent you from getting into a car again. You may try to avoid where the accident happened or even any of the events that led up to the collision. Loud noises and crowds are common triggers of truck accident-related anxiety, which can disrupt your everyday life.

You may also have other anxieties about your circumstances after the accident. Mounting medical bills, loss of wages, and not knowing how long your recovery time will be are overwhelming worries. Stress from your claim for damages and court anxiety may also be keeping you up at night. Thankfully a dedicated personal injury lawyer will be able to relieve some of that stress for you. Ask your lawyer questions about your concerns and let them ease your mind.


Depression is exceedingly common after an accident, especially when debilitating injuries or deaths have occurred. Depression destroys all motivation a person has to live their everyday life, according to the doctors at Brain Therapy. Victims may feel guilty for the accident even when they are not at fault. Perhaps they were driving, or it was their idea to be out that day. It’s also possible that their injuries completely changed how they now live their lives, and the future they envisioned for themselves is gone. Whatever the reasons, depression has a debilitating effect on life.

Suffering from depression causes people to feel misunderstood and to withdraw from the world, adding to their loneliness. It influences their work performance and ability to eat and sleep. These feelings can further lead them to feel drained of energy and cause a downward spiral of hopelessness and despair.

Seeking Help From a Mental Health Professional

Seeking help from a mental health professional will aid in your recovery and your claim for damages. You may choose to speak with a psychiatrist, psychologist, therapist, or counselor. They will be able to diagnose your mental anguish and link your condition to your accident. Documentation from these professionals will be used to prove your claim for damages. They can also help you work through your mental and emotional trauma.

Things to Avoid After a Car Accident

Recovery is often challenging and fraught with frustrations. It is important to avoid the following behaviors that will only inhibit your healing process:

  • Alcohol and non-prescription medications are attractive ways to handle physical and emotional pain. However, they only offer temporary relief, and their adverse effects often leave you feeling worse and can cause depression.
  • Keeping your honest feelings to yourself can harm your overall health. If you feel like you can’t talk to your loved ones, a therapist can help.
  • Trying to handle everything alone while still recovering can slow your healing. There is nothing wrong with asking for help and delegating tasks. Let your lawyer take on the stress of your claim for damages.
  • Making a significant life change shortly after a traumatic event is risky. Surviving a horrific event can give you a new perspective on life that makes you want to make other changes. While this may seem like you are improving yourself at the time, your judgment may not be as sound as usual, and you may regret your decisions later. It is best to wait a while and then decide if you still want to make those changes when you are thinking more clearly.

How Can I Recover Damages For Emotional Distress?

Contact a personal injury lawyer and discuss the details of your case. If the accident was not your fault, your lawyer will file claims for financial recovery for you. Discussing all the details of your accident and recovery with your lawyer is crucial. Be honest about everything you have been experiencing since your accident. Physical and emotional damages both play a big part in your claim for compensation. Your lawyer will have to prove that your emotional distress was caused by the accident and that it has had a significant impact on your life.

Compensation For Emotional Distress

The compensation you receive depends on proving that the distress has had a significant impact on your life and was caused by the accident. Your claim will include the following:

  • Mental health treatment bills
  • Prescription medication to treat mental anguish, such as anxiety or depression
  • Lost wages from being unable to work due to emotional distress. For example, fear of getting into vehicles can prevent you from getting to work, or flashbacks of the accident can affect your ability to focus
  • Decreased quality of life, primarily due to debilitating injuries

It is beneficial for you to refrain from talking to the insurance company yourself. These companies can be cruel in their quest to deny claims and reduce payouts. They may even try to blame you for the accident when you are not at fault. Let a lawyer do this work for you.

Contact Golblatt + Singer: The St. Louis Injury Law Firm For a Free Consultation

An experienced personal injury lawyer can significantly impact your mental health recovery. Our team of truck accident attorneys at Goldblatt + Singer will help you through the legal process and handle your case compassionately. We understand that this may be the most distressing time in your life. Let us help ease some of your pain by giving your claim personal attention for the best possible outcome while you focus on your recuperation. Call us for a free consultation at (314) 231-4100.


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