Common Emotions After an Accident

As accidents are unexpected traumatic events, they often lead to a wide range of strong emotions.

In vehicle accidents, if you were the party that was ticketed after the accident, guilt is extremely common. You know that, although unintentionally, you have significantly affected (in a negative way) the life of another person. If the accident is minor and the other party has minimal or limited injuries, the guilt will usually pass reasonably quickly. However, if a serious injury or fatality occurred, the guilt can be severe and prolonged. It is very common for the ticketed party to initially justify that “it wasn’t really my fault”. It is important to realize that this is a form of justification, and is not the truth. Although difficult, it is important for us to accept responsibility for our actions and accept the fact that “we really did make a mistake”, which unfortunately led to a bad situation for someone else. Although difficult, the only healthy outcome is to accept full responsibility and personally apologize to the person that you injured, and ask for their forgiveness. You will be surprised how many times, even though they may still be hurting and angry about their situation, they will forgive you because of your humble attitude.

If you are the injured party that was not ticketed for the accident, by far the most common emotion is anger. You were going about your daily business when someone else made a mistake and “turned your life upside down”. If you have limited injuries, the anger and frustration usually pass reasonably quickly once all of the paperwork, repair of your vehicle, and completion of your rehabilitation has occurred. If you end up with permanent injuries, and are thus reminded on a daily basis of the accident, it is usually more difficult to deal with the anger and frustration. Although these feelings are completely understandable (and I personally held on to mine for some time after my serious accident), the only healthy outcome is to forgive the person that injured you. While most people feel that forgiveness is to “help the other person that hurt me”, forgiveness, in fact is the only way that you will ever come to your own internal peace. Thus the sooner you are able to reach this point, the healthier your emotional state will be. Many people are able to “work through this process” without professional help. However, professional help, either from a trained medical counselor or someone with a ministry background, can be extremely helpful. As difficult as it can be, the sooner you are able to put your ongoing injuries in proper perspective, the sooner you are able to enjoy the rest of your life that you have been blessed with. (Remember, there are some that do not survive accidents like the one you were involved in.)

Another emotion that is common after all of the above injuries is the anxiety about transportation if your vehicle was seriously damaged. Also, significant anxiety occurs when an injury leads to inability to perform one’s work and the associated significant financial stress that can occur. If another party was responsible for your injury, arranging a consultation with a personal injury attorney will assist you in exploring options of how you might be compensated for the injuries and financial repercussions. You also want to check with any insurance policy that you might have (either personally or through your work) that might have a long-term disability payment that will assist you in getting through the time when you are not able to work and produce income.

The emotional aspect in an injury can be either very minor or very severe. If you are struggling with any of the above emotions, please notify your treating physician so they can assist you in getting appropriate help.

A Better Way to Get Better,
Adrian Lewis
Adrian Lewis, MD