The Psychological Effects Of Personal Injuries

Published on 07/24/2023 by Monica Burneikis

In the immediate aftermath of an accident, first responders focus on physical injuries ranging from minor to catastrophic. However, in the days, weeks, and months following the event, many accident victims experience challenging psychological effects. Feelings of anxiety, sleeplessness, insomnia, memory lapses, flashbacks, anger, and depression are all common psychological effects of a personal injury. 

After The Accident: Long-Term Effects On Mental & Emotional Health

Psychological effects impacting mental and emotional health can be equally or even more devastating than the physical injuries one suffers after an accident and deserve equal attention when pursuing personal injury compensation.

A recent article published in the Injury Epidemiology Journal explores the serious and long-lasting mental and emotional health effects following injuries. Researchers found that:

  • 25% of participants reported clinically relevant distress within the first three months post-injury
  • 15% reported distress at 12 months
  • 16% reported distress at 24 months  

Notice that the rate of accident victims reporting mental and emotional health effects at 24 months (two years) after their injuries is higher than those reporting distress at the one-year mark. This increase is proof that long-term effects and life changes associated with a serious accident or injury take a toll on victims over time.

Common Psychological Effects Of Personal Injuries & Accidents

Here are some of the most common psychological effects of a traumatic or unexpected accident or injury: 

Mental fatigue, fogginess, and memory loss

Victims of a head injury, serious accident, or trauma commonly experience side effects such as mental fogginess, memory loss, difficulty focusing, and general fatigue. Part of this is related to the physical effects of a brain injury, which can heal over a few days or weeks. However, traumatic brain injuries may leave victims with permanent loss of short-term memory, difficulty completing tasks, or an inability to perform work- or home-related responsibilities they previously held.


Anxiety is another psychological effect frequently experienced following an accident. For many people, anxiety is centered around the activity or environment in which the accident occurred. For example, someone involved in an auto accident may be afraid to drive or may fearful of being a passenger in a car. Someone who fell from a balcony due to a faulty railing may experience a fear of stairs or heights. 

Sometimes, the brain’s reaction to the loss of control leading to an accident creates generalized anxiety, and this is heightened if a victim is worried about when they can return to work, the financial health of their household, or whether or not their physical injuries will heal enough for them to “go back to normal.”


Not surprisingly, depression is associated with any physical injury that compromises a person’s activities of daily living, capabilities, or ability to return to their job. Long-term hospital or rehab stays, along with suffering a permanent mental or physical disability, puts a victim at serious risk for depression.

If depression goes unnoticed or untreated, it can spiral into more serious mental health issues, including suicidal ideation (thoughts or fantasies about suicide) or actual suicide attempts.


The multi-fold effects of a serious accident or injury may also lead to insomnia. The inability to get good sleep increases the risks a person will suffer some of the above-mentioned psychological effects of personal injury, creating a snowball effect.

Coping With The Psychological Effects Of Personal Injuries

There are several things you can do to cope with the psychological effects of a personal injury accident. Getting the qualified support you need is a huge first step.

Seek immediate medical attention

It is not uncommon for victims of serious accidents to initially “feel fine” due to accident-related adrenaline and the side effects of shock. No matter how “fine” you feel immediate medical attention is essential. The sooner you are evaluated, the better your chance of receiving an accurate diagnosis of any injuries, including minor whiplash or concussion.

Consult with a personal injury lawyer

Consulting with a personal injury lawyer is a necessary next move. There is no obligation, and you are not committed to pursuing compensation if it is unnecessary. However, these consultations allow you to review what happened, share your story, and objectively review your medical records. From that information, we can provide you with clear next steps.

Many clients find the support of a personal injury attorney alleviates feelings of loneliness or helplessness, knowing that an objective professional can look out for their best interests over the short and long term. 

Pursue support from a therapist if experiencing psychological effects of personal injuries

If you do not have a current relationship with a therapist or counselor, we can provide referrals to therapists we trust. A licensed therapist can provide weekly counsel and provide you with personalized tools to manage some of the psychological side effects listed above, including anger, anxiety, depression, and so on.

We will build these and other fees (as well as projected future needs) into your case if you decide to pursue a personal injury lawsuit.

Burneikis Law Is Here To Help

Is your well-being compromised by the emotional and mental stress of your recent accident? Have you noticed changes in your emotional landscape due to an accident or injury? Schedule a consultation with Burneikis Law.

We will listen to your story and provide professional recommendations for your next steps. You do not have to navigate this alone. Getting the support you need for the psychological effects of personal injuries is the foundation for relieving the psychological effects of an accident and is necessary to restore the quality of life you deserve.

Monica Burneikis - Oakland Personal Injury Attorney
Monica Burneikis has been an accident and personal injury lawyer for over 15 years. She knows what it takes to fight with insurance companies in order to obtain maximum compensation for injury victims and their families.
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