Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

The horrific carnage which occurs on our highways often results in post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) of the survivors, who see the terrible result of the negligent actions of drivers of motor vehicles at highway speeds. In civil litigation cases proving PTSD relies upon signs and symptoms and neuropsychological assessments all of which can be attacked by defence counsel as subjective evidence. This makes it very difficult to prove these types of cases even though the burden of proof in civil matters is on a balance of probabilities (more likely than not and then the plaintiff should win and receive full compensation).

Medical Breakthrough That Helps Lawyers

Fortunately, a medical breakthrough which has occurred at the Hospital For Sick Children in Toronto may provide a new tool in the arsenal of injury lawyers in proving PTSD. Using magnetoencephalography (MEG) technology, which is a sophisticated neuroimaging tool, researchers were able to compare soldiers with a diagnosis of PTSD with those who do not have PTSD and the brain scans of the two groups showed huge differences. The researchers could see heightened arousal in the PTSD afflicted men that was maintained, and not in the men who did not suffer from the disease. The researchers concluded that those with PTSD can’t let the images go and their brains stay in a hyper-aroused state. It is unknown at this time if this technology is currently available in Calgary or Edmonton, so Alberta victims may have to travel to Toronto.

This provides a welcome new tool for injury lawyers to prove PTSD in addition to a neuropsychological two day battery of testing. The neuropsychological two day testing is often rebutted by the defence insurance company’s neuropsychologist with the result that the case ends up as a battle of experts. A test which provides objective evidence of a mental illness and potentially a bio-marker would be a significant breakthrough both for the medical community and for the legal community in obtaining proper compensation for victims of PTSD, especially given the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench reluctance in the past to recognize this illness properly and fully compensate this illness.