How a Car Accident Can Affect Your Mental Health

Can a Car Accident Affect Your Mental Health? 

Effects of a car accident car accident victims
Car accidents can have a lasting impact and leave physical injuries as well as mental trauma. During May, which is Mental Health Awareness Month, we are bringing to light emotional and psychological issues associated with accidents that often go undetected or untreated. A car accident can affect your emotional and mental health in more ways than one. 

If you sustained injuries after a car crash in California, The Law Offices of Daniel Kim can help you recover top compensation from the responsible party. We do not charge upfront legal fees and offer a free consultation to get started. Call our Orange County law firm today at (800) 719-9779


Mental Health Awareness Month 

Car accident trauma with psychological effects
Since 1949, May has been recognized as Mental Health Month. This annual observance serves to raise awareness about mental health issues, reduce stigma, and promote the importance of mental well-being. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), 1 in 5 U.S. adults experience mental illness each year. 

Car accidents can have a profound impact on mental health, leading to conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), persistent anxiety, and depression. Psychological injuries are often overlooked due to the predominant emphasis on physical injuries.

If you or a loved one is experiencing emotional distress after a traumatic car accident, it is crucial to seek help from a mental health professional. Your treatment may include cognitive-behavioral therapy, medication, or support groups, which can significantly improve your quality of life. 


Psychological Issues Associated with Car Accidents

Physical and psychological injuries from a car accident
Car accidents occur daily all over the state of California. While many are minor and do not result in injury, more serious crashes can lead to severe injury or death. During the first half of 2023, over 2,000 people died in motor vehicle crashes in California. 

You don’t have to be in the vehicle to suffer from psychological trauma. Even witnessing an accident can impact your mental health. Symptoms of emotional trauma can be short-term or long-term. 

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) 

Post-traumatic stress disorder is triggered by experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event, such as a motor vehicle accident. Symptoms may include intrusive memories, avoidance behaviors, mood and thought changes, and heightened reactions. While symptoms can appear within one month of the event, they can also occur years later. They can interfere with daily tasks and affect personal relationships. 

Car accidents are one of the most common causes of PTSD among the general population. Treatment may include a combination of psychotherapy and medication, as well as support from family and friends. 


It is completely understandable to feel stressed and anxious after a car accident. After all, no one expects to be in a car crash. Anxiety is a common symptom and can manifest in several ways, including changes in personality or behavior, persistent headaches, mood swings, and sleep disturbances. More severe symptoms may be a sign of post-traumatic stress disorder. 

Specific phobias can also count as an anxiety disorder. Vehophobia is a phobia marked by extreme fear and avoidance of driving or being a passenger in a vehicle. 


Approximately 10 to 20% of car accident survivors experience ongoing psychological health issues, including depression and PTSD. To be diagnosed with a depressive disorder, a person must have experienced a depressive episode for more than two weeks.

People suffering from depression experience feelings of sadness, loneliness, a loss of interest in activities, poor concentration, and feeling tired or low energy. Depression can lead to an increase in suicidal thoughts and behaviors. 

Stress Response Syndrome

Also known as an adjustment disorder, stress response disorder is a short-term reaction to stress or trauma. It may involve negative emotions, feeling sad and hopeless, and anxiety. Symptoms usually begin within the first three months of the traumatic event and do not last more than six months. 

Physical Injuries

Certain physical injuries associated with a car accident can lead to psychological injuries. Sustaining a traumatic brain injury may lead to a mental health disorder because the brain is particularly vulnerable to damage that can disrupt its normal functioning, leading to issues such as mood disorders, anxiety, depression, and other complications. 


What Compensation Can I Recover for Mental Health Issues? 

Car accident survivors in California may be eligible to recover three types of damages in a personal injury claim: economic, non-economic, and punitive. The amount of compensation awarded will depend on the nature and extent of your emotional distress and how the injury impacted your life. The amount of negligence for each party will also determine the value of a claim. 

Car accident victims may recover the following damages:

  • Economic damages: These are tangible losses that can be quantified, such as medical expenses for mental health treatment and therapy, medication costs, and lost wages if your emotional and physical injuries impact your ability to work.
  • Non-economic damages: These intangible losses include pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, and loss of companionship. They are more challenging to quantify.
  • Punitive damages: In some cases, if the emotional trauma was caused by particularly egregious behavior, such as intentional infliction of emotional distress, you might be eligible for punitive damages designed to punish the wrongdoer. 

Filing a car accident claim is best left to an experienced car accident attorney. Insurance companies are notoriously difficult to work with; they frequently deny liability and offer lowball settlements. Lawyers have the negotiating power and skillset to garner the top compensation you need to recover. 


Speak to an Orange County Car Accident Lawyer 

Car accident claim mental anguish
Your physical and mental health recovery should be your top priority after a car accident, not endless calls with the insurance adjuster. When you hire The Law Offices of Daniel Kim, we will take over all communications with the other party’s insurance company while negotiating maximum compensation for your injuries. 

Speak to our Orange County car accident lawyer during a completely free consultation. We will listen to you and help you determine your legal options for recovering financial compensation for your mental trauma and other damages. Contact our law firm today to schedule a free consultation.