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The American Psychological Association- PTSD and Auto Accidents

Car accidents are one of the leading causes of death in the United States. For every person killed in an auto accident. hundreds of others are injured.

One aspect of auto accident injuries that many people overlook is the mental trauma that can be caused by a serious accident. The American Psychological Association was the first to publish a book that looks at the incidence and repercussions of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) on accident victims.

The book, After the Crash: Assessment and Treatment of Motor Vehicle Accident Survivors, was written by psychologists Edward B. Blanchard, Ph.D. and Edward J. Hinkling, Psy.D., who were concerned that the issue of PTSD after car accidents was not being properly addressed.

"Not only are almost half of those in car accidents at a noticeable risk for developing PTSD, but there are other non-symptomatic signs that affect them, like having trouble on the job and in school, maintaining friendships and not being able to enjoy leisure time."

The book uses information from a five-year study of 158 motor vehicle accident survivors. The participants were compared with a control group who had not been in an accident. Researchers found that 39.2% of the accident survivors developed PTSD within a year of the crash.

What are the symptoms and factors of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?

The primary symptoms of PTSD in accident survivors include:

  • Re-experiencing the traumatic event
  • Persistent avoidance of stimuli associated with the trauma
  • Numbing or decrease in general responsiveness

Factors that the authors found increased the risk of developing PTSD include:

  • Fear of dying in an accident
  • Waiting for a court decision
  • Seriousness of injury
  • Prior depression
  • Prior accident involvement


The personal injury attorneys at Hupy and Abraham have seen firsthand the effects of PTSD on accident survivors. Though we understand that mental trauma after an accident is very real, many people don't believe it is worth compensation. We could not disagree more.

If you have been injured in a car, truck or motorcycle accident and are suffering physically and emotionally, please contact our experienced accident attorneys today for your free, confidential, no-obligation consultation.  With offices across Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa, we are here for you where you need us, when you need us. 800.800.5678.