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Does car insurance cover PTSD after a car accident?

Advocate for the payout you deserve, but beware of filing a claim too late.

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Filing a claim for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) includes variables like state laws that affect how you receive compensation. But whether you’re claiming the injuries on another driver’s insurance or your own, you’ll want to notify the insurance companies involved as soon as possible to protect your right to a settlement.

Is PTSD covered by car insurance?

You can get PTSD treatments paid for under certain types of car insurance coverage, as long as the PTSD is related to a car accident. You might want a lawyer if you’ve suffered serious injuries or PTSD symptoms.

However, where you file the claim depends on your state and the at-fault driver:

  • Another driver caused the accident in an at-fault state. You can claim the medical bills under the other driver’s bodily injury liability coverage. Some states assign partial fault to each driver involved. If you’re deemed partially at fault, your payment might be reduced by your part of the fault.
  • Another driver caused the accident in a no-fault state. In a no-fault state, you’ll claim the expenses under your own personal injury protection coverage. However, you can still sue the at-fault driver for severe injuries.
  • You caused the car accident. You must have MedPay or personal injury protection to pay for the medical expenses under your car insurance. Otherwise, you’d have to use your health insurance.

What PTSD treatments are covered by car insurance?

Whether you file your medical expenses under another driver’s liability coverage or your own coverage for medical payments, these costs should be covered:

  • Ambulance rides
  • Hospital or emergency room care
  • Doctor visits
  • Therapy
  • Medication
  • Prosthetics

What should I do if I experience PTSD after a car accident?

If you’re experiencing symptoms of PTSD or other medical issues following a car accident, consider seeing a doctor to be properly diagnosed. What to expect:

  • See a doctor as soon as possible. Even if your symptoms seem harmless, get checked out just in case. You should be able to file this visit under the at-fault driver’s car insurance or your own MedPay coverage.
  • Notify the insurance company. Loop in the insurance company about the car accident as soon as reasonable. If you have serious injuries, take care of those medical needs first.
  • Keep your doctor’s statements. Keep your written medical diagnosis, bills for payment and the doctor’s explanation of benefits on hand. That way you’re ready to send them over to the insurance company if needed.

How does a PTSD claim work?

Since PTSD could be considered a mental or emotional injury, you might receive payment as part of your pain and suffering compensation.

When you receive a bodily injury liability payout, you also get compensation for pain and suffering. Insurers typically multiply your medical expenses by a number between one and five to determine payouts for pain and suffering. The multiplier depends on how severe and long-lasting your injuries are.

Depending on your symptoms, some cases of PTSD may be deemed a separate injury. If so, the individual medical bills and treatments should be fully covered, rather than receiving a lump sum amount to allot for medical expenses. Then, you may receive a payout for pain and suffering in addition to the injury settlement.

How long do I have to file a bodily injury liability claim?

Most states give you one to two years to file and complete a bodily injury claim. But you should notify the insurance company as soon as reasonably possible after the accident. Many insurance policies require that you notify the company within a specific timeframe, typically 72 hours, or you’ll forfeit the right to file a claim.

Starting the claim allows you to add medical expenses and report details as you go. You don’t have to settle the claim until you reach what insurance companies call the maximum medical improvement (MMI). MMI is the point when injuries have been cured or stabilized so that you can get an accurate picture of medical costs.

What if I don’t agree with my settlement amount?

If the insurance company doesn’t offer a pain and suffering settlement that works for you, you’ll have to sue to get the payout needed. The majority of cases are settled before going to trial, but you’ll need to be ready for trial just in case.

How do I file a claim for car accident PTSD?

Filing a minor bodily injury claim works much the same as for car damage. But consider a lawyer if your injuries are severe, will have long-lasting symptoms or will cost you several thousand dollars in medical bills.

How to deal with minor claims:

  1. Start the claim online or by phone with the insurance company of the at-fault driver. Tell important details about how the accident happened and the extent of damage.
  2. Send evidence of your injuries and expenses. These may include the doctor’s written diagnosis, receipts for any payments you make, explanation of benefits or a balance bill.
  3. Give the insurance company time to process the claim. You can expect an adjuster to contact you within a few days after filing the claim.
  4. Schedule an interview. The adjuster may want to record a phone interview or meet in person to go over the accident details.
  5. Review the settlement. If the claim gets approved, the insurance company will send a settlement offer. Let the adjuster know up front if you want to wait until you’ve received more medical treatment.
  6. Negotiate the settlement. You can determine whether the settlement will take care of your medical expenses or whether you want to negotiate. Be ready to show proof if your bills exceed the offer.
  7. Settle the claim. If you approve the offer, sign the paperwork and receive your settlement check within a few weeks.

What should I watch out for?

When dealing with an injury claim for PTSD, you may have to advocate for yourself to get the payout needed. Red flags to watch for:

  • Don’t admit fault. When talking to the other driver or their car insurance company, avoid admitting fault in the accident. Let your insurance company and the other driver’s find who’s at fault from the facts of the situation.
  • Don’t feel pressured to settle. Look up your state’s time requirement for filing personal injury claims. That way you know for sure you can wait to finalize your claim, despite pressure from the insurance company or at-fault driver.
  • Don’t accept a low offer. You don’t have to accept the first offer an insurance company presents. If you think medical costs will exceed the offer, foresee lost income or expect chronic symptoms, you could bring up these points to negotiate a higher payout.
  • Stay aware of deadlines. If you pass your state’s due date for filing injury claims, you’ll forfeit the right for a settlement. Even letting months pass could lead to problems with car accident details or finding credible witnesses. File a claim sooner rather than later, providing additional receipts or estimating future medical expenses once those details become available.
  • Always remember your documentation. If you fail to keep record of your medical expenses, you might not get reimbursed for that bill. For example, you might overlook adding it to the claim, or you might have trouble proving the expense was accident-related later on.

How much will PTSD treatments cost out of pocket?

Treating PTSD can range from $1,200 to $8,600 per year, depending on the treatment, treatment length and your health insurance. Veterans may have access to lower-cost treatment through the Department of Veterans Affairs.

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Bottom line

Getting compensation for PTSD treatments can be a valid car insurance claim. But the condition could get filed under several types of coverage and be compensated in different ways, depending on the situation.

Since your own insurance company may get involved, make sure your car insurance company offers the best coverage and claims service for you.

Frequently asked questions about car accident PTSD

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