Child Safety: Identifying PTSD Symptoms in Children After an Auto Accident

By Stewart Law Offices
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childs teddy bear in front of a car wheel

After a car accident involving your child, you may breathe a sigh of relief if your child has not suffered any physical injuries. However, auto accidents can cause severe emotional harm to children, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Parents should watch out for PTSD symptoms in children that may indicate ongoing mental trauma resulting from a car crash.

What Is PTSD?

The American Psychiatric Association defines post-traumatic stress disorder as a psychiatric disorder caused by experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event or series of events, such as a natural disaster, warzone, terrorist attack, assault, domestic violence, or accident. PTSD can occur when an individual experiences the traumatic event(s) as personally harmful or life-threatening. Symptoms of PTSD can have adverse physical, mental, emotional, and social effects.

People who have PTSD frequently experience intense or disturbing thoughts or feelings about the traumatic event. They may repeatedly relive the event through nightmares or flashbacks triggered by stimuli related to the event, such as getting into a car or driving past the location where a car accident occurred. As a result, they may avoid situations that remind them of the event. Intense anger, fear, or sadness may cause people to feel detached or become estranged from family and friends.

Child’s Symptoms of PTSD

PTSD symptoms in children

Younger children may have difficulty expressing the emotions or mental distress they experience after a car crash. Children may not understand the intense thoughts they have about the accident or why they continue to have flashbacks or nightmares about it. Because children may emotionally or socially withdraw when suffering from PTSD, parents should familiarize themselves with the signs of PTSD in children, which may include the following:

Emotional and Behavioral Signs

Behavioral or emotional symptoms caused by PTSD in children include:

  • Suddenly becoming very upset when exposed to stimuli that cause the child to remember or relive the crash, such as when getting into a vehicle or hearing loud sounds
  • Irritability or frequent emotional outbursts
  • Lack of positive emotions
  • Intense, ongoing fear or sadness

Physical Symptoms

PTSD can also cause various physical effects in children, such as:

  • Difficulty falling or staying asleep
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Digestive issues
  • Lethargy or chronic fatigue

Cognitive and Psychological Effects

Psychological effects of PTSD in children can include:

  • Frequent nightmares
  • Refusing to talk about the accident or denying that the accident happened
  • Consciously avoiding places, people, or other stimuli associated with the accident
  • Becoming easily startled
  • Constant or excessive worrying, unreasonable fears, or always looking out for potential threats or hazards (e.g., refusing to get into a car due to the chance they may get into another accident)

How a Car Accident Lawyer Can Help

If your child has suffered symptoms of PTSD after a car accident, let an experienced South Carolina car accident attorney help your family pursue accountability and financial recovery for the emotional harm your child has endured. An attorney can investigate the crash to identify who caused it and is responsible for compensating you and your child for the harm they caused. An attorney can also gather medical evidence needed to prove that your child has developed PTSD due to the accident and advocate for your child’s right to a fair financial recovery.

Contact Stewart Law Offices today for a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss your legal options for pursuing a compensation claim for your child’s post-traumatic stress disorder caused by a car accident.

Getting in any kind of accident can change your life. We understand the stress, the medical bills, the time missed from work, and the pain and suffering that comes with serious injuries. That is why our dedicated personal injury lawyers in the Carolinas are here to help you move forward.