Can You Prove PTSD in a PI Case?
After an accident or injury, it is common for people to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). If you have been dealing with PTSD after an accident, you may be able to get compensation for the disorder in a personal injury lawsuit. And because this issue can be hard to comprehend for an average juror, you are able to bring an expert witness who can testify to explain the disorder. Depending on the case, this expert will be able to say whether the issue does or not does have a negative effect on your life.
What exactly is PTSD?
Unlike a broken nose or a bruised rib, PTSD cannot be seen after a car accident. Therefore, it is a completely invisible injury that may not make itself known for days, weeks, months or even years after the event.
PTSD does not happen to every car accident victim, but it does happen routinely to many. Because the car crash is so intense, it causes a fight-or-flight adrenaline rush and reactions. Yet often, the brain becomes so overwhelmed that it cannot shut off the resulting behaviors. Put simply, someone who suffers from PTSD feels like the trauma is happening over and over again, which can affect daily enjoyment.
PTSD, although commonly known, is not understood in all its specifics by the average juror. In other words, the average juror is not qualified to assess whether a plaintiff suffers from PTSD, so an expert witness is needed to do the assessing for them. Aside from cross-examining the plaintiff’s expert witness, a defendant will often hire her own expert witness to give competing testimony and a different expert opinion. In other words, to refute the plaintiff’s claims and to demonstrate that he or she is not suffering from PTSD.
It is not enough for an expert witness to testify on your behalf and prove that they are qualified to diagnose PTSD, though it helps. They generally are required to give a diagnosis and testify to whether the plaintiff has PTSD. Other witnesses can give additional evidence that the plaintiff has exhibited signs and symptoms the expert witness has described to get positive PTSD diagnosis, usually referred to as fact witnesses. The expert is not necessarily giving testimony about the fact that the plaintiff has PTSD, but is rather affirming the facts, which must be proven to establish PTSD. Additional testimony from fact witnesses or other evidence is not necessary if the expert witness is the plaintiff’s personal therapist who has directly witnessed the plaintiff displaying symptoms or the plaintiff has described the symptoms to the therapist/expert for treatment. If this is the case, the therapist is considered to be both an expert witness and fact witness.
It’s important to remember that filing a personal injury lawsuit can have very serious legal and financial consequences and requires a thorough knowledge of the laws and legal system, the best thing you can do is consult with a qualified personal injury lawyer before you take any other steps forward. Potential personal injury cases involving PTSD require a detailed understanding of the facts, the processes, and the law. If you were involved in an accident that has had some sort of impact your life, you should consult with an attorney to see if it’s even worth it lawsuit. At One Law Group in Beverly Hills, you can have one of our attorneys do a free evaluation of your case here.