Should I Feel Bad for the Other Driver?

Car accidents in Maine happen every day. As is the case with every accident, no one is ever prepared for one when it occurs and is utterly helpless to stop it when it’s happening. In all likelihood, the accident is over before you even realize or comprehend what has happened. When accidents occur, it is not uncommon for the people involved to experience a range of emotions. As people focus on recovery from their physical injuries, they may struggle with emotional injuries, too. 

Car Accidents, Guilt, and Trauma

What happens in an accident, after all, can affect people differently. Whereas most physical injuries are visibly apparent in the immediate aftermath of an accident, other physical reactions may not surface until hours and days later. The emotional toll of an accident can affect people the same way. You may be stunned or disoriented, but later, after the initial reaction subsides, any number of emotions could strike—shock, sadness, grief, anger, and guilt—can be triggered by involuntary flashbacks that, frame by frame, replays the sequence of the accident in your head. 

Shock and Trauma After an Accident

Shock, for example, varies for everyone. That induced by trauma is a non-physical injury people suffer after a crash, but it is an injury nonetheless. Referred to as acute stress disorder, traumatic shock manifests as a defense mechanism when the brain is unable to respond to or fully process a traumatic event. As one becomes overwhelmed by emotion, body, and mind essentially freeze and dissociate to protect the psyche. Symptoms of emotional trauma differ, but common signs are severe anxiety, distress, rapid heartbeat, or feeling worried, indifferent, panicky, or afraid. If these symptoms linger for weeks, it could be a sign of PTSD.

When There is a Loss Due to an Accident

Anger, sadness, and grief may also manifest following an accident. Lashing out at the other driver may occur whether the accident was their fault or not. In a collision, passengers may feel angry with the drivers of both cars. Drivers and passengers can experience irritability and agitation or become overwhelmed by profound sadness or grief at the injury or loss of a loved one or an innocent bystander.

Overwhelming Guilt or Shame

Guilt and shame are other emotional experiences that often accompany those involved in accidents. Even if they didn’t cause the accident, older drivers might feel an overwhelming sense of responsibility for just being on the road, and younger drivers may be permanently scarred. Drivers of all age groups may blame themselves repeatedly, especially if they think that they could have reacted quicker, if only they had been driving slower, or been more aware of environmental conditions. Passengers may feel guilt or shame for causing a distraction with another passenger, arguing with the driver; or experiencing survivor’s guilt in having narrowly escaped death that could have been avoided. 

After an accident, people experiencing guilt and other emotional trauma often feel that they are not worthy or that there is no worth exploring legal options that can only compound their own or someone else’s pain. Insurance companies will undoubtedly downplay the severity of any emotional issues you may be experiencing after a car accident. You should know that a range of emotions is normal. If you are suffering from lingering doubt, indecision, anxiety, and guilt, you may also not fully grasp the circumstances that led to or caused the accident. Such trauma may be preventing you from reaching out to a car accident lawyer who could offer the guidance and perspective you may need to move forward with your life. It’s okay to feel bad for the other driver—it means you have a heart—but not to your detriment. 

Get Advice. Let Us Guide You Through the Process.

If you have been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, and you are suffering emotionally from it, then you owe it to yourself, if not your family, to visit the law offices of Hardy Wolf & Downing for consultation. We appreciate that car accidents can be a life-changing event that carries an emotional burden, and even relatively minor ones can leave traumatic scars. Getting back to “normal life” after a car accident can be trying for many. For those afflicted with unsettling flashbacks and guilt, we offer advice and assistance, help file a claim if needed, and ensure that you are awarded the compensation you deserve as you recover from injuries physically and emotionally.