After negligence, recklessness, an accident or malpractice that results in physical injury, it’s common that doctors, loved ones, and the victim who sustained the injuries may believe healing lies in field of medicine (surgical procedures or prescription drugs to reduce physical symptoms). This line of thinking is always with the best intentions for the victim, though it’s missing an important aspect of a full recovery: healing from mental trauma.
However, a victim’s mental health shouldn’t be put at risk, or overlooked completely just because mental trauma cannot be seen. Throughout the legal process, expert witnesses such as psychiatrists, psychologists, or trauma specialists, among other mental health professionals with knowledge of the client’s specific case may be called into court to testify on behalf of the victim. Trauma is a deeply complex area of Personal Injury Law that requires a team of seasoned professionals to get the job done right, and with the maximum benefit to the client in order to restore Quality of Life on their behalf.
In this writeup, an updated followup to Mental Anguish After Accident is Serious and Lifelong for Victims, The Law Resource will explain to our readers how deeply trauma factors into an accident, and why it’s necessary to retain an experienced lawyer with the right qualifications (Board Certified is the only choice for maximum compensation, as well as the most experience available to those who have been injured by no fault of their own). A Board Certified lawyer will never overlook mental trauma caused after a victim suffers catastrophic physical injuries in an accident.
What’s the legal solution to the “invisible injury” problem?
The answer to the above question can be as simple as “retaining a Board Certified Personal Injury lawyer”.
The problem those directly involved in deciding the outcome of a case have with mental trauma (also known as an “invisible injury”) is that if it can’t be seen, it cannot be proven, and therefore does not need to be compensated to the fullest, or at all, should the lawyer on the case not have any prior experience with mental anguish. This line of close-minded thinking hurts the victim and their family more than anyone else. An inexperienced lawyer may not be able to recover as much compensation as they rightfully deserved whether due to lack of experience or “paper pusher” laziness.
However, an experienced lawyer, one who has years of successful, high dollar verdicts under their belt, will know how to combat this preconceived notion. An experienced lawyer will have experience proving the notion of “invisible injury requires little or no compensation” false. With the use of expert witnesses, accident recreation, and demonstrative aides, a Board Certified Personal Injury lawyer prepares a case that settles successfully at mediation or, sees a high dollar verdict should it go to trial.
Why are expert witnesses a necessary part of Personal Injury cases?
What necessitates expert witnesses in the field of mental health during trial is due in part to what judge and jury can’t see being overlooked (by no fault of their own) during the process of awarding adequate damages to a victim. From a legal standpoint, having expert witnesses on the Personal Injury team is one way to ensure that a victim’s mental health is not ignored in favor of only the physical pain being explained during the trial. Mental trauma and physical injury occur together in the event of catastrophic accidents such as amputations, TBI, paralysis, or disfigurement.
How do victims explain the feeling of mental trauma?
People who suffer from depression or any form of mental or emotional trauma or distress often call this form of distress “drowning”. Mental and emotional trauma after a catastrophic accident can feel like living with constant reminders of what happened. These painful, “drowning” feelings have various forms in which they manifest in a trauma victim:
- PTSD: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is common but far too often overlooked after an accident that causes physical trauma to the body. While injuries in a physical sense may heal, PTSD is a lifetime affliction. Stress so extreme it may cause the victim to panic, feel anxiety, and become unable to function because the fear of the accident recurring weighs so heavily upon them on a daily basis must be treated by the proper mental health professionals. Psychologists who specialize in PTSD patients can provide the emotional “tools” a victim can use during periods of extreme anxiety.
- Flashbacks: Much like PTSD, flashbacks occur and can constantly remind an accident victim of the trauma they experienced. Flashbacks can be triggered by the things most of us wouldn’t even consider to be emotionally upsetting. A motorcycle whizzing by on the road may remind a traumatic brain injury victim of their own motorcycle-related collision, causing them to become anxious, further isolating them from friends and family out of fear they may suffer another accident.
- Depression: After an accident the long physical road to recovery health-wise, the victim may have been out of work for an extended period of time, unable to participate in the life they once enjoyed, or suffered great financial losses due to unpaid medical expenses. All of these things, coupled with what may be permanent physical injury, can lead to severe depression. CRPS (Complex Regional Pain Syndrome) after an accident is known as “the suicide disease” because patients are often unable to cope mentally with the physical pain inflicted upon them. Victims who have become isolated due to extended hospital stays or the inability to go out and live life to the fullest may feel isolated from their friends and loved ones, causing them to further feel the weight of depression on their shoulders.
Hope for trauma victims after an accident
An experienced lawyer knows the dollar amount of the settlement or verdict come secondary to their client’s return to health on the medical side, post trauma. In an effort to provide a client with the lifelong, steep expense of trauma recovery, the lawyer will prepare a well rounded, organized case. This may mean they call in expert witnesses backed with clean, well-presented Demonstrative Aids to assist them in presenting a successful case.
Compensation after “winning” a Personal Injury case, specifically a trauma, is not looked at as a “win” for its high (sometimes multimillion dollar) settlement or verdict. It’s looked at as a win for lawyer and client because it’s what will provide the ongoing care a victim who has suffered trauma needs to return to a life they once enjoyed prior to becoming injured. Removing as much financial burden from the client as possible is what serves to eliminate some of the feelings of “drowning” (as explained above) a client suffering from mental trauma may be feeling after enduring an accident that left them with both physical and mental injury.