Data gathered by the insurance industry indicates that the average driver will experience at least one collision by the age of 34 — and will be involved in three or four crashes in the course of a lifetime. Traffic accidents are so common, in fact, that many drivers don’t give the event the attention it deserves. They’re eager to get back on the road and want to put the whole episode behind them.
But an accident can be a life-altering event, endangering your physical health and emotional well-being. Even if the injuries involved seem minor, there are several steps you should take to protect yourself and boost the healing process in the aftermath of a car accident.
MAKE SELF-CARE A PRIORITY
Right after an accident, you may be dealing with several matters at once: contacting police and insurance companies, exchanging information with the other driver, checking out the damage to the vehicles and arranging for alternate transportation. But don’t neglect the most important task of all. If you or anyone else involved was injured, even if you just feel “shook up,” seek medical help immediately.
In many instances, paramedics will be summoned to the scene to examine accident victims. But even if the incident doesn’t result in an immediate trip to the emergency room, it makes sense to get a thorough physical exam within 72 hours of the accident.
There are several reasons for this. Some injuries, including whiplash and concussion, may not be apparent immediately after the accident and only manifest hours or days later. Identifying soft-tissue damage or other injuries early in the process can be a key to getting better sooner. And a delay in seeking treatment can also influence how an insurance company evaluates your claim down the line. Early detection and treatment of injuries helps your case — and your body, too.
Don’t put off seeking medical treatment or physical therapy simply because you don’t have insurance or are hoping that the injuries will “take care of themselves.” A knowledgeable personal injury attorney can advise you on how to obtain the treatment you need while your claim is still pending.
DEALING WITH EMOTIONAL STRESS
Even those who are conscientious about treating the physical impacts of an accident may not be aware of the emotional impact. Psychologically, trauma can affect people in very different ways. Some people experience little emotional distress, but others may be grappling with a range of symptoms, such as anxiety, insomnia, mood swings, and difficulty concentrating on routine tasks.
It’s not unusual for car accident victims to be anxious about driving again, or even about being on the road as a passenger. Flashbacks and nightmares about the crash are sometimes reported, too. Research indicates that close to four in ten people involved in car crashes develop some symptoms associated with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a serious condition that may require professional therapy and medication.
HOW LONG DOES THE EMOTIONAL TRAUMA LAST?
There are so many variables in dealing with emotional trauma that it’s impossible to predict how any particular individual will respond. Some people work through the most common emotional after-effects of a car accident, such as a reluctance to get back behind the wheel, in six months to a year — but depending on the severity of the accident, the type of trauma and treatment involved, and other factors, it could take longer.
BATTLING DEPRESSION AND GETTING YOUR LIFE BACK
Another common psychological response to a traumatic event such as a car accident is depression — not simply being sad about the financial or physical damage involved, but overwhelmed by feelings of anger, helplessness, brooding over the accident, and so on.
If you’re feeling depressed, listless, or emotionally incapacitated, it’s important to not hide your condition but seek out mental health professionals who can evaluate and help you.
Most of all, it’s important not to isolate yourself after an accident. Talk to loved ones about what you’re going through. Make efforts to exercise, take care of yourself, and get back to activities you enjoy. Don’t let phobias or stresses from the accident limit your ability to live your life in a healthy, productive way. Experts say that if you focus on the healing process, the trauma should recede in time.
THE CAR WRECK LAWYERS AT FDAZAR
For more than thirty years the attorneys at Franklin D. Azar & Associates have helped thousands of injured people obtain complete and timely compensation for their losses. Our proven track record and expertise have allowed us to grow into the largest personal-injury law firm in Colorado, with offices in Denver, Aurora, Thornton, Fort Collins, Greeley, Grand Junction, Colorado Springs, and Pueblo. If you’ve been injured in a bus, car, truck, or motorcycle accident, you may be entitled to compensation. Please call the car accident attorneys at FDAzar day or night at (800) 716-9032, or contact us here for a free consultation and no-obligation evaluation of your case.