A motor vehicle accident and its aftermath are traumatic events that can profoundly affect not just your physical but also your mental health. It is not uncommon for psychological injuries to occur as the result of an accident, and in some cases, the symptoms can be very severe and debilitating. However, proving that the accident caused or contributed to that injury can be a challenge.
Psychological injuries can be caused by the accident itself or its aftermath. As a result of the accident you may experience post-traumatic stress, fear of driving, or nightmares. After the accident your physical injuries may cause significant pain, discomfort and a restriction in your ability to do the activities you used to – all of which can contribute to onsets of depression, irritability and other mood disorders.
Your physical injuries may also evolve into psychological injuries. For example, you may develop chronic pain disorder, which is where your pain symptoms carry on even though the physical injury itself has healed. In such cases, your pain is very real but there is little or no “organic” explanation for it.
Your psychological symptoms may all first appear after the accident, or you may already suffer from a psychological illness and the accident makes it worse. In either case, you can be compensated.
That being said, all of the above can be difficult to prove to ICBC. First, psychological symptoms themselves are often subjective, stigmatized and difficult for people outside of your own experience to understand. You also must show that the symptoms were caused by the accident and not any number of other life factors that can bring on symptoms of anxiety or depression. If you already suffered from an illness it will be difficult to demonstrate if and how the accident made it worse. Finally, chronic pain is often met with skepticism because your symptoms will seem out of proportion to what your physical injuries actually are. When assessing your claim, ICBC will look for other explanations for the your psychological symptoms, such as probing past medical records, in order to deny you compensation.
So what can you do to prove your case? The most important thing you can do is TELL YOUR DOCTOR about any psychological symptoms you experience following a motor vehicle accident, and then continue to keep your doctor informed. This will help to establish a link between the accident and the onset of your symptoms as well as lead to appropriate and necessary treatment to restore your mental health
Psychological injury claims can be complex and highly sensitive. This should not, however, dissuade you from pursuing your claim. One of our lawyers here at Drysdale Bacon McStravick LLP will be able to help you build your case and collect the necessary expert medical evidence to prove your injuries and get the compensation you deserve.