Allison Harris January 2021
After being involved in an accident (motor vehicle or otherwise), the focus is often on property damage and/or physical injuries. The full extent of injuries sustained in an accident may not be visible. This is especially true for mental injuries. Very often those injured in an accident may not be aware symptoms they experience post-accident are as a result of a mental health injury which is separate and in addition to the physical injuries they have suffered.
It is not uncommon to hear personal injury clients share post-accident experiences which include a wide array of emotional issues such as sleep disturbance, anxiety while driving, a lack of energy and motivation, flashbacks to the accident, sadness, etc. These symptoms either did not exist at all prior to the accident OR have been significantly exacerbated or aggravated since the accident. While sometimes reluctant to share these stories, clients recognize these symptoms are having a negative impact on all aspects of their lives including family, friends and work.
Stoically, many people focus on recovering from the physical injuries not appreciating that mental health injuries can be equally devastating and need to be addressed from a medical perspective to ensure as complete a recovery as possible. If you are experiencing psychological symptoms after being involved in or witnessing a motor vehicle accident, whether or not you sustained a physical injury, it is important to follow up with your doctor to review your symptoms.
Nova Scotia courts recognize that mental health injuries suffered by those involved in an accident are compensable. In some situations, individuals who were not directly involved in the accident are also entitled to be compensated for the impact on their mental health.
Mental health injuries can include PTSD, anxiety and stress, mood disorders, sleep disorders, depression and the development of phobias. In a 2017 decision, the Supreme Court of Canada noted the following requirements in order to establish a mental injury:
To establish mental injury, claimants must show that the disturbance is serious and prolonged and rises above the ordinary annoyances, anxieties and fears that come with living in civil society. Expert evidence can assist in determining whether or not a mental injury has been shown, but where a psychiatric diagnosis is unavailable, it remains open to a trier of fact to find on other evidence adduced by the claimant that he or she has proven on a balance of probabilities the occurrence of mental injury.
An experienced personal injury lawyer will review with you any issues you may be having beyond the pain arising from physical injuries such as a broken bone, burns, lacerations, concussions, neck injuries, spinal injuries and sprains. They will work with you to ensure any mental health impact of your accident is properly addressed with your medical treatment providers and to gather the necessary evidence to ensure you are compensated for ALL of your accident injuries.
The Personal Injury lawyers at MDW Law would be pleased to meet with you in a free consultation to review the specifics of your symptoms and situation in more detail.