Can You Sue for Depression After a Car Accident in Pennsylvania?
A serious car accident can spark psychological issues in some individuals. Depression is one form of mental health disorder that a person may develop after being the victim of a car crash. While mental health issues may be more difficult to prove and receive compensation for, that does not mean you cannot pursue a legal claim based on depression. If you or a family member developed depression after a car accident, you should consult with an experienced Philadelphia car accident lawyer. The injury lawyers at The Reiff Law Firm can help you determine whether you have a valid claim to sue a negligent driver for causing you to develop depression. In this article, our personal injury lawyers explain whether you can sue for depression after a car crash in Pennsylvania.
How a Car Accident Can Cause Depression
When we think about the effects of a car accident our minds may naturally think about the physical injuries and property damage caused by a collision. However, it is also possible for a car crash to cause a person to suffer from psychological harm.
If an individual is involved in a life-threatening event like a serious car accident, there is an increased possibility that they may develop a mental health disorder like depression. This risk factor may be heightened if the victim suffered an especially serious injury, or if the victim witnessed the wrongful death or serious injury of a loved one. The victim may experience feelings of shame or guilt because they believe their actions caused their injuries and the injuries of others.
Another variable that should be discussed when determining whether a person can develop depression after a crash is the victim’s previous experiences with traumatic events. If a victim has a long history of dealing with traumatic events, they may have some issues dealing with subsequent distressing events that occur later in their life. Support from a victim’s family and friends is important in helping a victim heal from a psychological wound. Victims who do not receive this support have an increased likelihood of dealing with depression.
Depression is not the only mental illness that may arise from a traumatic event. In a study conducted by the National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, some individuals who suffer from a mood disorder after a traumatic event are likely to suffer from other mental illnesses such as PTSD. To learn more about the causes of depression after a car accident, and whether you or your family member could have grounds to file a claim, you should speak with an experienced car accident lawyer.
When Should You File a Personal Injury Lawsuit for Depression?
One factor that should be addressed before you file a personal injury lawsuit for depression is the manner in which the depression is affecting your life. Some psychological issues may arise immediately after a traumatic event. However, it is also normal for a person not to experience the symptoms of depression or other mental issues until weeks, months, or possibly even a year after a car accident.
Additionally, in some cases, an individual may not have long-term issues stemming from depression. If a victim only exhibits depression symptoms for a short period of time before they disappear again, it may be difficult to show that their depression is significantly impacting their life.
It is important to note that you must file a personal injury lawsuit before the filing deadline passes. The amount of time you have to file a lawsuit for depression, and many other types of cases, is regulated by the statute of limitations. In Pennsylvania, the filing deadline for a personal injury lawsuit is generally two years from the date of the accident. If you do not file your injury case within that timeframe, the court may bar your claim. However, there are certain circumstances that may help you delay your filing deadline.
One way that your filing deadline could be delayed is if your depression symptoms did not begin immediately. Most personal injury cases will start from the date the accident occurred because that is when the victim suffered their physical injuries. However, as mentioned earlier, a psychological injury may only exhibit symptoms weeks or longer after a car accident. If your depression symptoms do not begin until weeks after the accident, the statute of limitations will begin from the date you experience symptoms.
Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyers Can Help
If you or a family member was a victim of a car crash and developed depression, you should contact an experienced personal injury attorney. At The Reiff Law Firm, we understand that living with depression and the issues it causes is stressful, and we are here to stand with you. To schedule a free legal consultation, call our law offices at (215) 246-9000, or contact us online.