Semi-truck accidents can have far-reaching consequences. In the aftermath of a serious collision, victims may find themselves struggling to overcome invisible injuries—injuries that don’t present broken bone or scarred skin, but nevertheless threaten a survivor’s right to live a fulfilling, independent life.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Semi-Truck Accidents
A fully-loaded semi-truck can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. When heavy commercial vehicles collide with much smaller passenger cars, the force of impact is often sufficient to bend steel and break bone.
However, even when victims manage to walk away from an accident with their lives intact, the inherent trauma of a near-death experience leaves survivors reeling. While post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is often associated with combat, abuse, and crime, semi-truck collisions are mentally and emotionally devastating as well, making it more difficult to get back behind the wheel. Survivors frequently report PTSD symptoms including, but not limited to:
- Situational anxiety
- Feelings of hopelessness
Left untreated, PTSD turns a victim’s life upside-down, making it more difficult for them to move past an accident, return to work, and resume an ordinary routine. In some cases, symptoms are so severe that survivors may struggle to maintain healthy relationships with their friends and family, potentially leading to marital problems and a profound sense of emotional isolation.
Obtaining Compensation for PTSD After a Serious Washington Semi-Truck Collision
Washington has a tort-based insurance system. After a serious semi-truck accident, victims are entitled to petition the at-fault driver’s insurance company for compensation. The Evergreen State courts typically recognize three types of damages:
- Economic. This compensation is for verifiable financial losses and includes reimbursement for paid medical expenses, physical rehabilitation, lost income from work, vehicle repairs, and more.
- Non-economic. Restitution for comparably intangible injuries and losses is another form of compensation your truck accident attorney will consider. It may cover emotional pain and suffering, disfigurement, or mental health disorders, such as PTSD.
- Punitive. Under certain, limited circumstances, a Washington court could award punitive damages. Punitive damages, unlike economic damages and non-economic damages, are intended to punish a particularly negligent defendant.
While state law offers semi-truck accident survivors the opportunity to obtain compensation for treating and mitigating PTSD, insurance companies are often reluctant to pay benefits for mental health conditions. Even if you were officially diagnosed with PTSD after your commercial truck accident, an adjuster might refuse to offer fair compensation, perhaps believing your symptoms are exaggerated.
How an Experienced Washington Truck Accident Lawyer Could Help You Secure Relief
After your semi-truck collision, here are just a few methods a skilled attorney will use to substantiate your post-traumatic stress disorder claim:
- Investigate the causes of your accident.
- File separate claims against every party that contributed to your injuries, including the truck operator, their employer or fleet company, and even an automotive parts or vehicle manufacturer.
- Review your medical records.
- Refer you to qualified mental health professionals.
- Compile statements from friends, family members, and other associates.
However, for most accident victims, compensation for post-traumatic stress disorder constitutes only a small percentage of their overall award.
Your Potential Damages After an 18-Wheeler Collision
Before filing a personal injury lawsuit, your lawyer works with you to determine the full extent of your physical injuries, psychological trauma, and anticipated needs. Since Washington state currently doesn’t cap damages in most semi-truck accident-related claims, you could receive as much compensation allowed to begin rebuilding your life. You could receive damages for:
- Past, present, and anticipated medical expenses
- Physical rehabilitation
- Paid co-pays and deductibles
- Cognitive therapy
- Lost work income
- Emotional pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment
- Loss of consortium
- Wrongful death
Keep in mind that Washington has a strict statute of limitations. If you wait too long to contact a Seattle-area truck accident lawyer, this statute could lapse, depriving you of your opportunity for justice.