car accident ptsd

PTSD and Car Accidents – Is it Real?

The short answer is yes.  A single incident, such as a car crash, can cause post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD. We often hear about PTSD in relation to soldiers returning from war. It used to be referred to as “shell shock.”

The individual may re-run what he or she experienced in a continuous loop in their brain. A single incident trauma such as a car wreck, sexual assault, and a gunshot wound can also spark recall of the traumatic event and subsequent anxiety and repetitive thinking.

PTSD and Car Accidents

Car accidents are the leading cause of post-traumatic stress disorder in the general population.

The National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that there are more than three million total crashes annually involving passenger cars, trucks, and motorcycles.  Among those, the National Institute of Mental Health predicts 39.2% of motor vehicle accident survivors develop PTSD.

PTSD can affect personality, sleep, and general wellness. Sufferers may experience flashbacks, nightmares, auditory or visual memories. Hyper-anxiety can take the form of an increased heart rate, sweating, nightmares, and increased respiration. Some people may become depressed or withdrawn as a result of the traumatic event.

Some turn to self-medicating with drugs or alcohol as sort of an emotional numbing to avoid the event.

Often these symptoms will not go away on their own. If symptoms of PTSD last more than a month, you may be formally diagnosed with the condition. Many will have a difficult time regaining the quality of life they enjoyed before the trauma unless they enter therapy.

There are several risk factors for PTSD. For example, a history of trauma or a family history of trauma can increase the risk for the condition. If there is a high level of emotion associated with the auto accident, such as guilt associated with causing a life-altering injury to a passenger that too could increase the risk of PTSD.

Although it may not sound rational, after a car accident, a former driver may begin to feel that driving is not safe and may avoid getting behind the wheel again.


People can suffer from untreated PTSD for decades but as recognition increases, so do recognized treatments. According to research from the Medical College of Wisconsin, treatment may involve getting behind the wheel again and shifting your thoughts from the event to the present.

Someone may coach the driver through his fear to begin driving again. The driver’s memories will not go away but will have to be managed in response to those memories. 

Treatment will involve acknowledging that being nervous and upset is normal. Open lines of communication must be established in any form of PTSD treatment. Note also that treatment may be an ongoing process.  

The worst thing is to avoid getting in the car and letting the fear and memories become the new normal. Do not let symptoms progress without seeking the help of a professional.

Your Auto Accident Attorney

The experienced personal injury lawyers at Burns, Cunningham, and Mackey have helped thousands of individuals after their auto accidents seek recovery and compensation.

We understand that there is more to an auto accident than property damage. There may also be soft-tissue damage and head trauma. As part of your recovery, you may not even be aware that PTSD has become part of your life since it may not be part of the routine screening for trauma patients.

If not, we can help guide you to be screened for PTSD symptoms and to seek additional comprehensive treatment after your car accident.

We all react differently to things after a major life-altering event, and we do not judge you for how you feel.

The Burns, Cunningham, and Mackey law firm wants you to know that PTSD can become part of your damages claim following an auto accident. We will also seek compensation for medical bills and lost wages.  PTSD can be diagnosed and we will bring in the appropriate experts to testify on your behalf and calculate a dollar amount of compensation.

We offer compassionate care of your case and make sure you receive the treatment you need to help you return to the quality life you enjoyed before the accident. Call our Mobile, Alabama office today at (800) 574-4332 so we can get started on your case.

recover from a car accident

5 Ways to Speed up Your Recovery after a Car Accident

Many individuals who are involved in auto accidents suffer from some kind of physical injury. In some cases, the injuries are relatively minor and only last for a few days. In other cases, the injuries can be moderate to severe, and it can take several weeks or months (or longer) for the victim to fully recover or reach maximum medical improvement (MMI). 

There are numerous types of injuries that can result from a car accident, and each situation is different. And there is no set time for recovery; this will depend on the severity of the injuries, the overall health of the individual, how the individual’s body reacts to various forms of treatment, and other specific factors. 

All that said, there are several things you can do to speed up your recovery time if you were injured in a motor vehicle accident:

  1. Get Immediate Medical Help After the Accident

Whenever you are involved in an accident, even a minor fender-bender, you should always get a thorough medical examination. Some injuries are readily apparent, but in other cases, the symptoms may not show up until several hours or even a few days later. This can even happen with more severe conditions such as internal injuries. Always go to the emergency room and get checked out just to be on the safe side. The sooner your injuries are properly diagnosed, the sooner they can be treated, and the better your chances of a full and speedy recovery.

  • Listen to your Doctor

One important legal consideration with regards to auto accidents is the duty of the injured party to mitigate their losses. This means not only getting any immediate and thorough medical examination, but also listening to what your doctor tells you and undergoing any surgeries or other treatments that they recommend. It may seem overwhelming to have to make time in your schedule for follow-up visits, further testing, and various types of procedures. This may require you to miss more time from work, and you might not want to go through all of this. Keep in mind, however, that the pain and hassle you have to endure in the short-term will be well worth it in the long run when you are able to more quickly heal from your injuries.

  • Follow Through on all Necessary Rehabilitation

Along the same lines as the previous point, we cannot stress enough the importance of following through on physical therapy and any other recommended rehab. It can be challenging to keep all of your physical therapy appointments, especially if you have to go in three or four times a week. Another area that is difficult for many people is doing the exercises that the therapist recommends after they get home. These exercises are very important, however, because they help you rebuild your strength. This is why not doing them as prescribed could be detrimental to your rehabilitation plan.

  • Stay Rested and Eat Right

In addition to doing the required exercises, you should also follow your doctor’s orders with regards to resting and eating healthy. Do not try to do too much too soon, and take the time needed to rest and let your body heal. Also be sure to stay hydrated and eat a diet full of the vitamins and nutrients your doctor recommends.

  • Consult a Mental Health Professional

For many people, being injured in an auto accident is a traumatic experience. Just the collision itself can cause recurring nightmares and a fear of driving. Studies also indicate that a significant percentage of car accident victims develop various forms of psychological trauma; such as severe anxiety, depression, fear of an uncertain future, difficulty sleeping, difficulty with focus and concentration, emotional outbursts, and many others. 

Psychological trauma is not something to be ashamed about – it is very normal under the circumstances. But the symptoms of this condition are not likely to go away quickly on their own. In fact, if left untreated, they can grow far worse, and they can also cause your physical condition to deteriorate. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above (or similar symptoms), consult a mental health professional as soon as possible, so you can be properly treated.

Obtain Strong Legal Counsel

As mentioned in the previous point, a car accident can be a traumatic experience. And when you are trying to recover, the last thing you need to be dealing with is the stress of trying to obtain just compensation (for your losses) from an insurance company that wants to pay you as little as possible. This is especially true in a state like Alabama, where they apply the “contributory negligence” legal standard. This means that if an injury victim is found to have “contributed” in any way to the underlying accident, they can be barred from recovering any damages at all. 

You can be sure that the other side will try to use the state’s defendant-friendly legal standard against you, and this is why it is extremely important to get an experienced attorney involved as early as possible in the process. With a skilled and knowledgeable attorney in your corner, you can rest easy knowing that the legal part of the process is being handled, and that you are in the best possible position to recover full and fair compensation for your injuries.

personal injury attorney

Top 5 Considerations When Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney

Filing a personal injury claim is a big decision, and one that could have a monumental effect on your life and your future. Indeed, a successful personal injury claim may yield the monetary award that you need to pay for your medical expenses, lost wages, and other economic expenses, as well as compensate you for your pain and suffering, whereas an unsuccessful claim could mean wasted time and money without anything to show for it.

Because the outcome of your personal injury claim is so critical, it is important that you do everything possible to maximize your chances of walking away with the award you deserve. One thing that you can do is to hire a skilled lawyer for representation. As you search for an Alabama personal injury attorney, here are five considerations to keep in mind:

  1. Practice Area

Just hiring a personal injury lawyer is not enough; you want to hire a lawyer who has extensive experience in the practice area that is specific to your injury. For example, if you have been in a rear-end collision accident, it’s probably not a great idea to hire a lawyer who focuses primarily on aviation crashes.

Ask your attorney during your free consultation what their experience is working on cases that are similar to yours.

  • Fee Schedule

You already know that a personal injury claim takes a lot of personal time, and that filing a claim can also be expensive, especially when it comes to hiring experts and filing a lawsuit should settlement negotiations fail. As such, the last thing that you want to do is add to the costs by hiring a lawyer who charges a retainer fee or asks for hourly payments. Rather, you should work with an attorney who will not only front the costs of your claim, but who will also work on a contingency fee basis. This means that your lawyer only gets paid if you do, collecting a percentage of your winnings if your claim is successful.

The vast majority of personal injury attorneys work on contingency, but be sure to ask your attorney what the costs of litigation will be (and how they will charge for litigation services) should your case go to court.

  • Standing with the Alabama State Bar

Before you hire an attorney, it is a smart idea to type their name into the lookup service provided by the Alabama State Bar. In doing so, you can determine whether or not the attorney is licensed to practice in our state. You can also check to see whether or not any disciplinary actions have been taken against them. If an attorney has had any actions filed against them, be sure to find out exactly why that happened before you even consider proceeding with that attorney.

  • Experience and Trial Experience

You don’t want a new lawyer practicing and refining their skills on your case – you want a lawyer who already knows what they’re doing and has the acumen and knowledge to get you the settlement you deserve. Ask your attorney for how many years they have been practicing law, how much time they’ve spent on cases like yours, and whether or not they go to trial often. Furthermore, make sure you ask about their case outcomes, including the cases that they have taken to trial.

  • Your Gut Feeling

Of course, there are a lot of things that you want to consider when hiring a lawyer, and there’s no doubt that doing your homework, talking to references, learning more about the attorney’s education and background, and more are all important. However, if everything else checks out, you should turn to your gut feeling in making a decision. Do you feel good about the lawyer? Do you have a strong connection? You will be spending a lot of time together in the coming months – is the attorney someone with whom you can easily work? If you don’t like the attorney or don’t trust them from the get-go, that’s probably not who you want to hire.

Schedule Your Free Consultation with Our Alabama Personal Injury Lawyers Today

Following a serious injury, there is a lot to take care of, and the idea of filing a personal injury claim on your own can feel especially overwhelming. At the offices of Burns, Cunningham & Mackey, P.C., our lawyers will work hard for you and handle the various details of your case so you can focus on your recovery. To learn more about our services and how we approach the claims process, please call us today at 800-574-4332 to schedule your free case consultation. You can also stop by our office in person or contact us online.

CMT Coal Terminal

Proposed Orders in Coal Case

In the Coal Case, Judge Brooks ordered the attorneys to submit proposed orders on the pending motions for summary judgment. Both proposed orders are attached.  Plaintiffs’ central argument is that the Planning Commission lacked the authority to permit a coal handling facility as a coal mine.

Plaintiff Proposed Order

Defendant Proposed Order