Feb 14, 2019

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Gains Recognition in New York Auto Accident Lawsuits

 For some New Yorkers injured in auto accidents, the emotional impact of the crash can be worse than physical injuries like broken bones.  Now, a New York appellate court has ruled that Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (“PTSD”) caused by an auto accident can be diagnosed by a non-doctor. 

In the case Vergine v. Phillips, decided on December 20, 2018, the Appellate Division of New York Supreme Court, Third Department (based in Albany), reinstated a lawsuit that had been thrown out by a lower court judge because the injured plaintiff’s PTSD had been diagnosed by the woman’s therapist, not a physician.  

The appellate court decided that the therapist, who is a licensed clinical social worker, was properly certified to practice by the State of New York and had sufficient experience as a therapist to make the diagnosis of PTSD (which can also be diagnosed by a psychiatrist or psychologist).  The plaintiff who filed the lawsuit had treated with the therapist for more than a year after the auto accident, and reported that she was “significantly limited in her ability to drive and even distressed as a passenger”.