What Do I Need from My Psychiatrist to Prove PTSD from My Accident?
Posted on Friday, May 20th, 2022 at 6:30 pm
PTSD, or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, is a psychiatric condition caused by a traumatic event in your life. Despite the common perception of PTSD being a made-up disorder or something suffered only by traumatized combat veterans, PTSD is a real mental health condition that is caused by experiencing intense shock, assault, traumatic experience, or fear of death.
Proving PTSD requires more than showing you were in a serious accident or suffered a dreadful trauma. Even combat veterans have trouble proving they have PTSD. To prove your symptoms are due to your accident, you need help from your psychiatrist as well as a skilled attorney.
Symptoms of PTSD
To show that you have PTSD, your attorney needs to show the judge or jury that you have symptoms of PTSD. Your attorney may show that you have:
- Directly experienced a traumatic event. You must have been involved in an accident yourself. You cannot have seen it on TV or heard about it afterward.
- Experienced flashbacks, nightmares, or other “re-experiencing symptoms” of the event. One symptom of PTSD is an inability to move past the event.
- Experienced avoidance symptoms. These are things like taking a different route to work to avoid passing the site of the accident or avoiding other reminders of the event.
- Arousal and reactivity symptoms. PTSD causes negative emotional responses like constantly being on edge, angry, jumpy, or tense.
- Thought and mood disorders. Things like survivor guilt, self-blame, and ruminating (constantly thinking about the event) are all symptoms of PTSD.
These symptoms are subjective, but once you have told a mental health professional, they become part of a diagnosis of PTSD. Everyone has nightmares but having nightmares following a traumatic event is more significant. If you have pressing questions about your case, don’t hesitate to contact our legal team today.
How You Need to Prove It
The opposing attorney is going to challenge your claim of PTSD. Your attorney needs the testimony of your therapist or psychiatrist to show you have a medical diagnosis of PTSD and that you have been receiving treatment for it.
Your primary care physician is not qualified to diagnose PTSD and cannot testify for you in court. Your own doctor may be concerned for your mental health and may have been treating you to your satisfaction, but your attorney can explain why you will need the diagnosis and treatment from a mental health professional.
Your psychiatrist or therapist may be reluctant to testify because of doctor-patient privilege. Your attorney can explain how to waive the privilege, and your mental health care professional may request that you do so in writing. This will protect both of you.
The testimony your psychiatrist or therapist gives will depend upon the specifics of your case. Your attorney will prepare your mental health care professional before any court appearance or deposition. In general, they will need to explain:
- When and why you first came to seek the services of the psychiatrist or therapist. If you were referred, why you were referred, whether you came on your own, and what made you come in.
- Who made your PTSD diagnosis. If the therapist made the initial diagnosis, was it confirmed by a psychiatrist?
- What other symptoms have the mental health professional observed in your treatment, and how have you been coping with them? What has the effect been on your life?
- Some patients had been seeing a therapist before the traumatic event. In that case, your therapist needs to be able to distinguish between your treatment before the event and after. What changes has your therapist seen in your behavior and demeanor?
- Have you needed any medications since the event? Who is prescribing them?
- What type of therapy have you been using (i.e., behavioral, cognitive)? Have you been progressing or improving? What does the therapist or psychiatrist think your prognosis is?
Your therapist may be asked to provide written records of your sessions if they are available. If so, your attorney can edit, or redact, those records to remove any sensitive information. Your therapist should not attempt to do so. Your attorney will know what information needs to be left in and what can be safely redacted.
How We Can Help
If you suffer from PTSD because of a traumatic accident or injury and need help proving your case to the insurance company or to the courts, call the Beaumont personal injury attorneys of Portner Bond, PLLC at (409) 838-4444 right away. Our attorneys will help you present your case in court and get the compensation you deserve. If you need assistance obtaining testimony from your therapist or psychiatrist, we will walk you through the best way to acquire their statements. Once it’s time for court, we’ll prepare both you and your therapist or psychiatrist to testify.