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Dealing with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder - a client's experience

Post- traumatic stress disorder is an anxiety disorder caused by very stressful, frightening or distressing events. Being involved in an accident, whether it is a road traffic accident, an accident at work, an aviation disaster or witnessing these types of events can lead to the development of Post- Traumatic Stress Disorder. The impact of PTSD should not be underestimated. This article looks at PTSD in more detail, and focuses on an example of how we assisted a child involved in a road traffic accident in dealing with PTSD and making the appropriate claim for compensation and assistance. 

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What are the symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

Typical symptoms can include:

  • Nightmares
  • Flashbacks
  • Repetitive and distressing images or sensations
  • Physical sensation - such as pain, sweating, nausea or trembling
  • Feelings of isolation, irritability and guilt.

This is not an exhaustive list but Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms can have a significant and debilitating impact on day-to-day life. These symptoms can cause problems with trust, closeness and problem solving and can seriously harm relationships, work and life in general.

It is common to feel distress following an accident and it is common to feel anxious, angry, emotional, shaky and to have difficulty putting the event out of your mind. Sometimes this acute reaction does not go away and a more severe condition of PTSD can occur.

In most cases, PTSD symptoms develop during the first month after a traumatic event or accident. However, in a minority of cases, there may be a delay of months or even years before symptoms start to appear.

Who is susceptible to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

You do not have to be a particular type of person prior to the accident in order to suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. It can affect adults and children. Children can experience similar symptoms to adults but have child specific symptoms such as bed wetting, separation anxiety from parents and adult carers and re-enactment of the traumatic event through their play.

The importance of rehabilitation

There is a major benefit to the individual to have assessment and treatment for Post- Traumatic Stress Disorder. If someone was physically injured they would seek medical intervention and help. By the same token, if someone is psychologically injured they should be encouraged to seek expert help and assistance and it is important that those people are represented by specialist solicitors who can help, guide and support them.

What can be done to assist people who suffer Post- Traumatic Stress Disorder?

It is important that people who experience PTSD symptoms are assessed and treated as soon as is reasonably practica l- albeit that it is possible for PTSD to be successfully treated many years after the traumatic event occurred.

The main treatments are psychotherapy and medication. It is possible to arrange Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, Psychotherapy, Eye-Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing, Group Therapy or Trauma Counselling for clients to help with their rehabilitation.

It is imperative that those who represent survivors of trauma and injured people recognise the importance of dealing and assisting with psychological injury and involve trained professionals including psychologists, community psychiatric nurses and psychiatrists.

Who should carry out treatment of Post–Traumatic Stress Disorder?

Treatment should be carried out by professionals who are experienced and trained in dealing with PTSD. The assessment of symptoms will ensure that treatment is tailored to the needs of the individual client.

A client's experience of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Our specialist Personal Injury Serious Injury team represented a 16-year-old boy who was involved in a road traffic accident. Our client was one of eight young people being driven in a mini bus when the accident occurred. The school bus was hit by a trailer that was transporting cattle. The immediate aftermath of the accident was horrendous - some of the children in the bus suffered serious injuries and some of the cattle were killed at the scene.

Our client was taken to hospital - he had abrasions and hurt his back but his more significant injury was Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder due to experiencing such a traumatic event.

Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder experienced by our client

Our client had pre-existing communication issues which were not fully diagnosed at the time of the accident. Although our client was physically fit to return to school he was reluctant to get on the school bus. He was unable to attend school for one week and had to sit beside someone for a few weeks such was the level of his anxiety about travelling on a bus.

He was unable to resettle at school and left before his expected date due to the level of  anxiety he was experiencing. Our client was tense in the weeks following the accident and experienced difficulty sleeping. Our client told his mother he was experiencing distressing thoughts and memories of the accident.

Our specialist Personal Injury team arranged for a psychological assessment of our client to take place and he advised the psychiatrist he remembered being horrified at the scene of the accident and seeing blood coming from the cattle. In the first few weeks following the accident our client thought of the crash several times a day and had disturbing dreams of the accident. His psychological symptoms included intrusive memories and emotional changes.  He avoided travelling by bus and disliked walking down the street when buses were passing and did not wish to learn to drive in the future.

Our client's physical injuries were assisted by six months of physiotherapy and our team arranged for our client to undergo physiotherapy.

Our specialist Personal Injury team instructed the psychological assessment of our client and this was carried out by an experienced psychiatrist. The psychiatrist diagnosed moderately severe Post- Traumatic Stress Disorder. Recommendations were made to the client and his mother in order to assist with his recovery.

Conclusion of the case

Our team was able to settle our client's case and he made a recovery of damages from the driver of the tractor for his physical and psychological injury. The psychological assessment and report looked at the individual circumstances of the client and, on that basis, the psychiatrist was able to assist the client in coping with the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder that he suffered following the accident.

What did our Personal Injury specialist team do for this client?

Our Personal Injury team are experienced in representing people who suffer Post- Traumatic Stress Disorder in road traffic accidents, accidents at work and fatal injury cases. We have extensive experience of supporting families and achieving results for them.

Contact our personal injury solicitors

Our Personal Injury team are experienced in representing those suffering from PTSD and will give first class legal representation, support and care to the injured person and their family.

If you've suffered a similar condition our solicitors can help you secure the justice and compensation you deserve. Get in touch now for a free chat about your claim.

The small print: This blog is for information purposes only and should not be construed in any way as providing legal advice.