Can I claim mental health issues that arise from a car accident?

Yes, you can claim mental health issues and receive compensation for emotional distress after a car accident. Legally, mental anguish is the same as emotional distress, and Illinois emotional distress laws make it possible for you to recover compensation from the at-fault driver.

woman struggling with mental-health

Traditionally, there hasn’t been much of an effort placed on helping victims of car accidents with mental health injuries. This may be because mental health is still somewhat of a stigma, or it could be that most people are usually more focused on their visible, physical injuries after car accidents.

The fact is that many people are mentally or emotionally injured after car wrecks. These are traumatic and sometimes violent experiences that stay with victims for weeks, months, or even years.

Langdon & Emison understands that emotional and psychological injuries are serious and can decrease the quality of life in victims. Our goal is to make the personal injury claims process go as smoothly as possible. If you were emotionally or psychologically injured in a car accident, you deserve compensation to pay for your medical bills and treatment.

You won’t suffer alone; Langdon & Emison will help you move past your accident and towards recovery.

Symptoms and Diagnoses of Emotional Distress

An individual can present many different forms of mental anguish and emotional distress following a car accident. Some of the diagnoses that crash victims can claim emotional distress damages for include:

depressed woman after car accident

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a serious condition where an individual involved in a traumatic event cannot move past the anguish of the event. They might relive the accident over and over and feel the same or higher levels of stress and anxiety that they felt in the moment of the crash.

Many times, PTSD affects the way a person lives and their relationships. Some of the symptoms of PTSD include:

  • Flashbacks

  • Nightmares

  • Feelings of detachment

  • Chronic pain

  • Headaches

  • Suicidal thoughts


Many people experience at least some level of anxiety following a car crash. In most cases, these feelings go away after a few weeks. But with people suffering emotional distress, symptoms may continue for months after the accident. Symptoms of anxiety include:

  • Panic attacks

  • Headaches

  • Rapid breathing

  • Muscle tension

  • Chest pain

  • Dizziness

  • Sleep disorders

  • Phobias related to vehicles and driving


Depression (major depressive disorder) often presents because of the physical pain and injuries endured after a car crash. Like anxiety and PTSD, depression can significantly change the way a person lives and enjoys their life. If you are experiencing the following symptoms, speak with a psychiatrist or other doctor as soon as possible.

  • Fatigue or lack of energy

  • Feeling guilty and worthless

  • Losing interest in activities you’d previously enjoyed

  • Suicidal thoughts

  • Inability to concentrate

It’s important to remember that the above is not a comprehensive list of symptoms. If you or a loved one have suffered from PTSD after a car accident, you should consult with a psychiatrist or other doctor. Then, call an experienced Chicago personal injury attorney at Langdon & Emison. We will fight to recover the money you need and have one less thing to worry about going forward.

Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress

After being involved in a car accident, you have to worry about several things: there are medical bills, vehicle repairs, and lost income from not being able to work.

lawyer shaking hands with car accident client

But what about your emotional distress? If you suffered PTSD or another mental health disorder after a car accident, you’ll have to pay for the psychiatrist bills, medications, and other treatments.

That’s where legal theory comes in. Through negligent infliction of emotional distress (NIED), you and your Chicago auto accident attorney may be able to recover compensation for damages. In this type of case, the at-fault driver (defendant) did not have the intent to cause emotional distress in the plaintiff – it was a mistake.

For your attorney at Langdon & Emison to recover the money you need, they’ll need to meet four legal requirements:

  • The defendant owed a duty of care to drive safely and responsibly.
  • The defendant breached that duty of care.
  • You suffered damages.
  • The defendant’s negligence caused your emotional distress.

In Illinois, bystanders may also claim NIED if the accident they witness caused them emotional distress. This falls under the zone-of-physical-danger rule, in which the plaintiff (witness) was close enough to the defendant’s negligence that they could have been injured. The plaintiff doesn’t have to have suffered a physical injury to claim NIED.

Emotional Distress Lawyer

At Langdon & Emison, we understand that physical injuries aren’t the only repercussion of car accidents. We’ve helped thousands of clients move toward recovery by getting them the money they need to pay for mental health treatments, including therapy, medication, and planning future care.

You may be entitled to receive compensation if you or a family member suffered mental or emotional anguish, so call an experienced car accident lawyer in Chicago at Langdon & Emison today. You are not alone in your journey to getting better. Call (866) 931-2115 to schedule your free case consultation.