PTSD or post-traumatic stress disorder can occur in a victim who has suffered injuries in an accident. The victim can claim compensation for this disorder as part of the personal injury case or related insurance claim. However, PTSD is very difficult to prove without testimony of an expert witness, as it is a complicated mental disorder.
Outside Expert Analysis is Critical
According to the law, a fact issue that cannot be easily comprehended by the average juror requires testimony from an expert witness to provide an opinion or explain the fact in detail. In the case of PTSD the expert witness will be called to offer an opinion if the victim is suffering from the disorder or not.
A Team Effort
However, expert witnesses cannot simply come and testify that they are qualified to diagnose PTSD and then provide the diagnosis. The expert will have to provide an explanation to the jury, as to how a diagnosis of PTSD is made and whether the victim is displaying the same symptoms as a patient suffering from PTSD. In most cases, additional testimony from other expert witnesses will also be required to support the PTSD diagnosis, and such witnesses are usually called fact witnesses.
The main expert witness will not necessarily provide testimony about the victim having PTSD, but rather testify about the facts that have to be proven for establishing PTSD. Hence, there is requirement for fact witnesses, apart from expert witness, for establishing PTSD. Only when the expert witness is the treating therapist of the victim, fact witnesses may not be required.
The expert witness of the plaintiff must testify to the following for establishing PTSD:
- The accident was stressful for the plaintiff
- The victim has intrusive and recurring flashbacks, dreams, and thoughts about the incident
- The plaintiff is avoiding places, things, and people that trigger such intrusive thoughts
- The plaintiff suffers from anxiety, hyper activity, insomnia, or other similar symptoms
- Important areas of the life of the victim is disrupted due to the symptoms