Riding a motorcycle involves inherent risks, but that doesn’t make a motorcycle accident any less traumatic. If you are a rider, you are more likely than motorists to be involved in a crash that results in serious injury. Furthermore, the injury rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled in the U.S. has increased every year since 2018. Any serious traffic accident can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder for those involved, including motorcyclists.
What Is PTSD?
You may have heard about PTSD because of its association with soldiers returning from war. However, soldiers are not the only ones who can experience this debilitating disorder. Post-traumatic stress disorder is a recognized psychiatric condition that may arise from any traumatic event, series of events, or circumstances, whether the person was involved in or witnessed it.
The precipitating events or circumstances may be physical or emotional in nature and may or may not be life-threatening. While a minor motorcycle crash may not lead to PTSD, it is quite possible that if you have a serious collision, you very well may experience post-traumatic stress disorder.
Signs of PTSD
Only a licensed professional can diagnose you with PTSD. However, there are signs you should look out for that may indicate you have the condition. PTSD signs are generally emotional, cognitive or behavioral. Psychiatrists classify symptoms into the following four different categories:
- Intrusive thoughts: These involuntary thoughts often arise in the form of flashbacks, memories that play on repeat or nightmares. If you have intrusive thoughts about your accident, you may feel like you are reliving the incident each time, unable to distinguish the memory from the event.
- Cognition or mood changes: You may block out certain aspects of the crash. You may have an intense emotional response, such as guilt, shame, fear or anger. You may also find it difficult to relate to people you were close to before the motorcycle accident. Sleep disorders and trouble concentrating are also common.
- Trigger reactions and behavioral changes: You may negatively respond to specific stimuli, such as loud noises, car horns or other sounds you may associate with the accident. Hearing these sounds may cause you extreme distress or lead to an angry outburst. You may also engage in dangerous behaviors you did not do before the accident.
- Avoidance behaviors: These behaviors may include avoiding driving on the street or in the area where the crash occurred. You may also find you want to isolate yourself, staying away from friends and family, especially when they want to talk to you about the accident.
Symptoms don’t always occur right after the crash and range in severity. Generally, they appear within the first few months and can last anywhere from months to years.
None of the above symptoms are unusual following a traumatic event. You won’t receive a PTSD diagnosis unless you experience your symptoms for more than a month. Additionally, the symptoms must be severe enough to cause significant impacts on your daily life.
Potential Impacts of PTSD
Post-traumatic stress disorder often leads to other debilitating conditions such as substance abuse, memory issues and depression. PTSD can impact all areas of your life. It can harm relationships, physical and mental health and employment. It may also lead to long-term disabilities and early mortality.
In 2018, an estimated 2.6 million male civilians (non-military) and 7.6 million female civilians experienced PTSD, leading to an estimated annual excess cost of almost $20,000 per individual. These cost burdens are due to the following types of losses:
- Direct medical and healthcare expenses
- Direct non-healthcare costs such as homelessness, substance abuse and psychotherapy
- Reduced productivity and unemployment
- Caregiver costs
- Early mortality costs
Many of these costs are directly measurable. However, other losses that you can pursue in a motorcycle accident claim include the non-economic costs of PTSD. These losses may consist of the mental anguish you experience, loss of relationships, loss of comportment or reputational harm.
Not everyone seeks treatment for PTSD. You may feel that there is a social stigmatism around getting professional support. However, seeking care from a qualified professional may help you recover faster. It will also provide evidence you need when pursuing compensation if your accident was due to another’s neglectful actions.
Can You File a Legal Claim if You Have PTSD From a Motorcycle Accident?
Typically, after a traffic accident, you file an insurance claim. Utah is a no-fault car insurance state and requires personal injury protection. However, your insurance company only covers the first $3,000 in qualifying medical expenses. If your losses are more than that and the other party was at least 50% at fault, you can file a claim with their insurer.
The costs of a serious motorcycle crash can quickly add up to more than the coverage provided under an insurance policy. Furthermore, the insurer may look for ways to reduce your settlement or deny your claim altogether. Insurance also does not cover the non-economic damages PTSD often causes.
If you develop PTSD after sustaining injuries in a motorcycle accident, you may be able to file a legal claim to recover economic and non-economic damages. A Siegfried and Jensen motorcycle accident attorney can help determine whether you have a case.
Injury Threshold for Filing a Lawsuit for a Motorcycle Accident
This state imposes an injury threshold in personal injury lawsuits for traffic accidents. You can only file a legal claim if your injuries meet one of the following criteria:
- Bone fractures
- Dismemberment or permanent disfigurement
- Permanent disability or impairment
You can also file if your medical expenses are more than $3,000.
The Impact of Comparative Negligence on Your Claim
Utah’s comparative negligence law impacts your motorcycle accident claim, whether you file with the other party’s insurance company or the court. In this state, as in most others, more than one person may be at fault in a traffic collision. Even if you are partially at fault, you may still have a case. However, you lose your right to compensation if you are more than 50% responsible.
When calculating damages, your degree of fault matters. If you are 20% liable, your settlement is reduced by 20%. The other party’s insurance company or legal representative will attempt to pin a greater share of the blame on you to avoid paying damages. A Siegfried and Jensen lawyer can help you obtain a fair settlement.
The Deadline for Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit
PTSD and other injuries may impact your life for years. Though you may be tempted to wait until you know the full extent of your losses, the legal clock is ticking. According to Utah law, you have a four-year window of time to file a personal injury lawsuit. If you miss that deadline, you may have no other recourse for pursuing compensation.
How Can Siegfried and Jensen Help?
Siegfried and Jensen’s attorneys understand the challenges you face after a motorcycle accident, especially if you experience PTSD. We assess your case for free to determine if it has legal merit. If you hire us, we will take care of the legal process. We handle the phone calls, paperwork, investigations and negotiations, so you can work on getting your health and life back. You also won’t pay anything unless we win your case. Get in touch today for your free case review.