Average Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Settlement

The average post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) settlement after an auto accident is $762,436 and the median settlement amount is $100,000, which better represents the typical settlement amount. Factors affecting a PTSD settlement’s value include symptom severity, presence of other injuries, and medical expenses. This data is based on 65 auto accident cases that include claims of PTSD recorded by Thomson Reuters between 2019 and 2024. As a result, it’s important to understand that in many cases, PTSD often accompanies severe accidents and injuries, which generally lead to higher settlements

Table of Contents
Average PTSD settlement amount chart (2024)
Average PTSD settlement amount chart (2024)

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Note: Average settlement data should not be interpreted as a guaranteed settlement amount for your PTSD claim. Data and settlement examples provided are intended to be used for informational purposes.

  • Median settlement = $100,000: The median more accurately reflects a typical settlement for a car accident that includes a PTSD claim because the calculation is less subject to being skewed by extremely high or low settlement amounts.
  • Average settlement = $762,436: The average settlement amount is the sum of all auto accident settlements that include a post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) claim, divided by the total number of settlements (65).
  • Highest settlement = $7,000,000: An individual reportedly sustained a partial foot amputation requiring multiple surgeries, resulting in lung and heart damage due to surgical complications, as well as the development of PTSD, when struck by a public commuter bus while lawfully crossing an intersection in a marked crosswalk. The plaintiff argued that the bus operator was negligent in failing to yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian, failing to keep a proper lookout, and executing a turn without ensuring no pedestrians were in the crosswalk. The defendant admitted liability, and the parties agreed to a stipulated verdict of $7,000,000, including $6 million for non-economic loss and $500,000 each for past and future economic loss.
  • Lowest settlement = $5,000: An individual, a minor, allegedly experienced an exacerbation of pre-existing post-traumatic stress disorder, evidenced by increased bed-wetting and separation anxiety, after the vehicle in which the individual was a passenger was struck in an intersection by a defendant motorist. The plaintiff, represented by a guardian, argued that the defendant was responsible for the individual’s subsequent care and treatment.

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PTSD Settlement Examples

Settlement examples under $100K

  • $25K settlement: An individual and their minor child were involved in an accident when another motorist, after a series of aggressive driving maneuvers, collided with their vehicle on the freeway, causing it to be pushed off the road. The individual and the minor suffered head and neck injuries, emotional distress, and anxiety. The minor also developed PTSD. The individual brought a complaint against the motorist negligent operation, assault, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent entrustment, supervision, and battery. The plaintiffs sought damages for medical expenses, general damages, property, and incidental damages, including unspecified punitive damages. The defendants denied liability but agreed to pay a total of $25,000.
  • $52.5K settlement: This survival action was brought after an individual, who passed away due to unrelated causes prior to the completion of the case, reportedly suffered injuries including shoulder bursitis requiring pain injections, bone bruising, aggravation of preexisting neck pain, and aggravation of preexisting anxiety, depression, and PTSD when the vehicle in which the individual was a passenger was struck on the front driver’s side by a delivery van exiting a parking lot. The van was operated by a defendant during the course of employment with the vehicle’s owner. The estate contended that the driver, and vicariously the employer, drove too fast, in an inattentive manner, and entered an intersection without yielding to traffic. The defendants admitted fault for causing the accident but disputed the nature and extent of the claimed damages. The parties settled for $52,500, with the decedent’s spouse and a severely disabled adult child each receiving 50 percent of the settlement proceeds.
  • $90K settlement: An individual was driving with their minor child on an interstate when traffic began to slow. Another vehicle behind them also slowed, but a third vehicle failed to slow down, causing a rear-end collision. This vehicle was then rear-ended by a fourth vehicle, leading to a multi-vehicle chain reaction that resulted in injuries to the individual, their spouse, and their minor children. The spouse suffered a loss of consciousness, body bruising, a hand fracture, a spine injury requiring surgery, tinnitus, cervical and lumbar sprains/strains, headaches, back pain, radiating neck pain, and PTSD. One of the minor children developed an infection, along with abrasions to the forehead and clavicle. The injured individual and their spouse, on behalf of their children, filed a lawsuit against the other drivers involved, claiming negligence, failure to maintain a proper lookout, and other driving infractions. They sought damages for pain, suffering, emotional distress, medical expenses, lost earnings, loss of consortium, and property damage. The defendants disputed the claims, contested negligence and the extent of the injuries, and argued that some of the spouse’s injuries were related to preexisting conditions and that the child’s infection was not caused by the accident.

Settlement examples between $100K and $500K

  • $116K settlement: Two minors, as passengers in a vehicle driven by their mother, were involved in an accident when their vehicle was rear-ended by another vehicle. The impact caused their vehicle to spin out of control into oncoming traffic, resulting in a collision with a third-party vehicle and subsequent impacts. One minor reportedly suffered a hip fracture and facial bruising, while the other experienced back pain, headaches, ankle pain, and PTSD. The plaintiffs claimed negligence for driving at an unsafe speed. The mother received a settlement of $27,000, and her spouse received $4,000 for loss of consortium and emotional distress.
  • $175K settlement: An individual, a minor pedestrian, allegedly suffered a concussion, scalp lacerations, second-degree burns on the hand, and PTSD, while another minor in a stroller allegedly suffered a non-displaced fracture to the face when they were struck near an intersection controlled by a stop signal by two drivers. The minors, through their guardians, contended that the defendants were negligent in the ownership and operation of their vehicles. Damages were disputed, and each minor recovered settlement proceeds.
  • $245K settlement: An individual was involved in an accident at an intersection when another vehicle made a left turn on a flashing yellow light, striking the front driver’s side of their vehicle. The individual sustained multiple injuries, including a fractured spine and sternum, a concussion with post-concussion and PTSD symptoms, and a neck injury. Additional injuries included sprains and strains to the ankle, thumb, chest, cervical, thoracic, and lumbar regions. The individual was transported to the emergency room and later transferred to a trauma unit before being discharged the following day. Medical expenses alone totaled over $60,000.

Settlement examples over $500K

  • $730K settlement: An individual was operating a vehicle on a highway with another individual as a passenger when an oncoming vehicle crossed the center line, resulting in a sideswipe collision. The driver attempted evasive action to avoid a head-on collision, but the sideswipe occurred at highway speed. The individual operating the vehicle sustained a mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) resulting in neurocognitive disorders, visual issues, dizziness, vertigo, post-concussive syndrome, PTSD, aggravation of anxiety and depression, major depressive disorder, right shoulder sprain and impingement syndrome, elbow issues, and various sprains, strains, abrasions, and contusions. The passenger suffered a low-back injury, a herniated disc requiring surgery, and sprains and strains to the shoulder, arm, hip, and spine, along with chest abrasions. The settlement included $200,000 in liability limits, $100,000 in underinsured motorist (UIM) policy limits, and a waiver of $10,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) limits for one individual. For the other individual, the settlement included $300,000 in liability policy limits, $100,000 in UIM policy limits, and a waiver of $20,000 in PIP limits.
  • $950K settlement: An individual was driving and stopped behind a stationary truck when the truck reversed into their vehicle. The individual suffered injuries, including disc tears in the spine, disc bulges, cervical and lumbar sprains, a spine injury, a traumatic brain injury, a concussion, piriformis syndrome, ulnar neuropathy at the elbow, knee contusions, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The individual was unable to return to work and asserted negligence. They sought damages for past medical expenses, future care costs, and lost wages. Medical expenses claimed totaled over $500,000.
  • $1.125M settlement: An individual was driving their vehicle when another driver, attempting to pass a semi-truck, entered the oncoming lane and caused a violent head-on collision at a high rate of speed. The individual suffered a fractured foot, mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), post-concussive syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other musculoskeletal injuries. The foot injury, specifically included a fracture and dislocation, required three surgeries. Medical expenses plus lost wages as a result of the accident totaled over $360,000.

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Case Factors That Affect PTSD Settlement Value

Other Claimed Injuries: PTSD often accompanies additional injuries, which may be minor, moderate, or severe, and can impact the settlement value accordingly.

🛈 Example: In addition to PTSD, the individual also suffers from a back and neck injury that requires surgery. The additional physical injuries can add $100,000+ to the settlement.

Severity of PTSD Symptoms: The intensity and frequency of symptoms such as flashbacks, nightmares, and severe anxiety.

🛈 Example: An individual with severe PTSD experiences daily panic attacks and requires intensive therapy. Severe symptoms may increase the settlement by $10,000+ compared to moderate symptoms.

Impact on Daily Life: How significantly PTSD affects the individual’s ability to function in everyday activities and maintain relationships.

🛈 Example: An individual is unable to participate in daily activities, such as driving or socializing, due to PTSD. This can add $10,000+ to the settlement for loss of enjoyment of life.

Impact on Employment: Whether PTSD has led to job loss, reduced earning capacity, or the need for a career change.

🛈 Example: PTSD causes an individual to lose their job and reduces their future earning capacity by $20,000 per year. Over a projected 10-year period, this could add $200,000 to the settlement.

Medical and Psychological Treatment Costs: Expenses for therapy, medications, hospital visits, and other treatments.

🛈 Example: Ongoing therapy and medications cost $15,000 per year. For a projected treatment period of 10 years, this would add $150,000 to the settlement.

Pre-existing Conditions: Any previous mental health issues that may influence the severity and treatment of PTSD.

🛈 Example: The individual had a mild anxiety disorder prior to the accident, which escalated to severe PTSD following the trauma. The defense might argue the pre-existing condition contributed to the severity, potentially reducing the settlement value.

Evidence Supporting the Claim: Availability of medical records, therapist testimonies, and expert witness reports.

🛈 Example: Detailed medical records and consistent therapist notes demonstrate a clear link between the accident and PTSD. Strong evidence can solidify the claim, potentially increasing the settlement value.

Witness Testimonies: Statements from family, friends, or colleagues about the impact of PTSD on the individual’s life.

🛈 Example: Family and friends testify about the drastic changes in the individual’s behavior and lifestyle. Persuasive witness testimonies can significantly increase the settlement and likelihood of success for the claim.

Jurisdiction: Variations in laws and compensation standards across different states or regions.

🛈 Example: An individual develops PTSD after a workplace accident in State A, which has a two-year statute of limitations for personal injury claims. They wait three years to file, resulting in no possibility of recovery. If the accident occurred in State B with a three-year statute of limitations, they could pursue a settlement of $300,000.

Defendant’s Liability: The degree to which the defendant is found liable or responsible for the traumatic event.

🛈 Example: An individual develops PTSD after a car accident where they were rear-ended at a stoplight. However, during the investigation, it is found that the individual had a faulty brake light which contributed to the accident. In a state that follows comparative fault rules, the individual’s fault is assessed at 20%, and the other driver’s fault is assessed at 80%. If the total damages (including PTSD-related costs) are calculated at $500,000, the individual’s recoverable settlement amount would be reduced by their percentage of fault (20%).

Settlement Negotiations: The skill and experience of the legal representation in negotiating a favorable settlement.

🛈 Example: Skilled attorneys negotiate aggressively on behalf of the plaintiff. Effective negotiations can add $100,000-$300,000 to the settlement.

Insurance Policy Limits: The maximum payout available under the defendant’s insurance policy.

🛈 Example: The defendant’s insurance policy has a maximum payout limit of $1,000,000. The settlement might be capped at $1,000,000 despite higher calculated damages.

Each car accident case is unique, and settlement amounts for individuals who suffer post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of the accident will vary based on many factors. Consulting with an experienced personal injury lawyer can help ensure that you receive a fair settlement.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What causes PTSD?

PTSD can arise from any traumatic event, with different individuals reacting variably to similar situations. Events such as car accidents, workplace incidents, personal assaults, family deaths, and natural disasters are common triggers. Any experience causing physical or psychological harm can potentially lead to PTSD. Additionally, individuals suffering from PTSD might be entitled to compensation from those responsible for the traumatic event, depending on the circumstances.

What are common symptoms of PTSD?

Common symptoms of PTSD include intrusive memories such as flashbacks and nightmares, avoidance of reminders of the traumatic event, and negative changes in mood and thinking like feelings of hopelessness and detachment. Additionally, individuals may experience heightened reactions, including being easily startled, having difficulty sleeping, and experiencing irritability or angry outbursts.

PTSD settlements are calculated based on factors such as the severity of symptoms, the impact on the individual’s daily life and ability to work, medical expenses, and the cost of ongoing therapy or treatment. Additionally, lost wages and non-economic damages, like pain and suffering, are also considered in determining the settlement amount.

How are PTSD settlements calculated?

PTSD settlements are calculated based on factors such as the severity of symptoms, the impact on the individual’s daily life and ability to work, medical expenses, and the cost of ongoing therapy or treatment. Additionally, lost wages and non-economic damages, like pain and suffering, are also considered in determining the settlement amount. You can use an online settlement calculator to estimate how much your PTSD claim may be worth.

How long will my PTSD claim take?

The time it takes to finalize a PTSD claim varies widely, typically ranging from 6 to 12 months. However, the duration will ultimately depend on factors that are unique to your case. This includes factors such as the complexity of the case, the availability of evidence, and whether the claim is settled out of court or goes to trial.

How long do I have to file a PTSD claim?

The time you have to file a PTSD claim after an auto accident depends on the statute of limitations for personal injury claims in your state. This period ranges from one to six years, with most states having a two or three-year limit. It’s important to check the specific statute of limitations for personal injury claims in your state or consult with a legal professional to ensure you file within the appropriate timeframe.

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We use settlement calculators to help individuals estimate how much compensation they may receive from their personal injury claim. We partner with law firms throughout the United States to help produce the most accurate results. Our content and calculators are created with the help of top-rated attorneys and legal professionals.

Accident type Avg. Settlement
Drunk driver $262,479
Uninsured driver $128,129
Hit-and-run $87,233
Rear-end $181,309
Injury type Avg. Settlement
Back & neck $263,030
Herniated disc $220,066
Concussion $347,046
Whiplash $121,542
PTSD $762,436

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