Identifying Child PTSD Symptoms Following an Accident

Vehicle accidents can be traumatic for any victim, regardless of whether the people involved are adults or children. When looking at articles related to vehicle accidents, you will not find many specifically targeting how to help children after an incident occurs. Children can sustain physical injuries in an accident, and they can also sustain significant emotional and psychological trauma, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). If your child has been involved in a vehicle accident, you need to ensure that they receive treatment for all their injuries, including any physical injuries as well as the emotional and psychological injuries they may sustain. PTSD symptoms vary from one person to the next, and we want to discuss how these symptoms could manifest in your child after an accident.

What is PTSD?

According to the American Psychiatric Association, we can see that PTSD “is a psychiatric disorder that may occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, a serious accident, a terrorist act, war/combat, or rape or who have been threatened with death, sexual violence or serious injury.”

While PTSD is often associated with military service members, the reality is that those involved in vehicle accidents can also suffer from the signs and symptoms of emotional and psychological distress.

What Does PTSD Look Like in Children who Have Been in a Car Accident?

PTSD symptoms can manifest themselves in a variety of ways and children. Studies have shown that there are various “red flags” that could indicate that a child is suffering from PTSD in the aftermath of a traumatic event, such as a car accident. Often, PTSD symptoms are grouped by the age of the child in question:

  • Ages 5 and under. Symptoms of PTSD in this age group can include regression to earlier behaviors such as bed-wetting, thumb sucking, separation anxiety, fear of darkness, etc.
  • Ages 6 through 11. PTSD symptoms for this age group can include disruptive behavior, inability to pay attention, sleep problems and nightmares, complaints of stomach or headaches, changes in behavior, school problems, extreme withdrawal, etc.
  • Ages 12 through 17. Symptoms of PTSD in this age range include sleep problems and nightmares, problems in school, risk-taking behavior, problems with peers, changes in usual behaviors, complaints about stomach or headaches, and even depression and suicidal thoughts.

At all age groups, PTSD victims may relive the incident in their minds. They may also want to avoid certain areas or places that trigger memories of the car accident.

Compensation for Treating a Child’s PTSD After a Car Accident

Under Oregon law, every motorist must maintain personal injury protection (PIP) medical coverage as part of their auto insurance policy. PIP coverage is considered a “no-fault” type of coverage that is available to injury victims regardless of who caused the accident. All motorists must carry $15,000 worth of PIP coverage in this state.

PIP coverage in Oregon can be used to cover a range of reasonable and necessary medical treatment for both physical and emotional injuries for a child involved in an accident. This could include coverage that a child needs for therapy and counseling for any emotional and psychological trauma they have sustained, including PTSD.