In The Wait: Avoiding Depression During A Personal Injury Case

Preparing for the legal process of a personal injury case takes more than just a great attorney. It also requires more than giving your attorney the requested physician reports and attending negotiation meetings. Because of the sometimes lengthy process of a personal injury case, you could get discouraged if you aren't ready for the long wait that may ensue. Depression is common after a traumatic injury, and all the more so when it takes a frustrating amount of time for the case to be settled. Be on guard with the following guidelines for waiting during the personal injury claims process.

1. Choose the right perspective

The first thing you need to do while waiting for a personal injury claim to be settled is to adopt the proper perspective. Do not expect to receive a call from your attorney next week telling you to come pick up your check. In fact, don't "expect" the issue to be resolved anytime in the near future--that will keep you from feeling disappointed as days roll by without any news on your case. Unmet expectations are one of the major factors in the development of depression, so avoid them through not anticipating a quick resolution to your case.

2. Be patient

It is likely that you will have many ups and downs during the course of your case. However, unexpected complications can trigger feelings of helplessness and discouragement, leading to anxiety. Being prepared for these complications is the best strategy. Here are some common tactics the other party's insurance company may employ to avoid a settlement:

  • denying responsibility for the accident

  • insisting you were at fault

  • refusing to acknowledge your injuries were caused by the accident

  • claiming you are not truly injured

These tactics can be extremely frustrating to deal with, especially when you are in pain and facing many other consequences of your injuries. However, understanding at the outset that there will be setbacks and snares will prevent you from losing your patience.

3. Push ahead

While you are waiting for your case to be settled, find a positive direction in your life and pursue it. Can you return to work on light duty? Do it. How about taking a community class on something that interests you, such as cooking or scrapbooking? Maybe you can research job opportunities for a new career if you are unable to continue in your current occupation. The key is to find something productive to do that helps you move forward despite your injuries. This will help you have a bright outlook as you wait--and a feeling of accomplishment helps alleviate the lethargy that can lead to depression.

4. Pursue friendships

Another tip for handling the long wait for your claim to be settled involves friendships. Sometimes after a life-altering injury, friends drop away; many people just don't know what to say to a person who's been traumatically injured. However, you need people who are going to stand by you through this life season; connections with others are vital to preventing the isolation that leads to depression. In all honesty, you may have to initiate the rekindling as your friends may not know how to approach you. Call and reach out to them. Arrange for some non-stressful social activities that will allow you to reconnect gradually. Once they see you are comfortable with them, they are likely to get comfortable once again with you.

5. Protect yourself

Despite your best efforts to be proactive against it, you still may struggle with depression. You're not alone: many people awaiting the settlement of a personal injury claim fall prey to depression. Protect yourself by being alert for its signs:

  • pervasive sadness

  • irritability with self and loved ones

  • changes in appetite and sleep patterns

  • difficulty making decisions

  • feeling foggy-headed, confused

  • thinking about harming yourself

If you realize you are slipping into depression, see a counseling professional right away. A brief course of therapy, combined with antidepressant medication, can help get you back on your feet; that way you will be best able to handle the wait for your case to be settled.

Waiting for a personal injury claim to be settled can be difficult, unless you go into the process prepared. With the proper perspective and a lot of patience, you won't lose heart. By pushing ahead to new horizons and pursuing friendships, you'll feel new energy and have people on whom to lean for encouragement. Also make sure you're communicating often with an experienced personal injury attorney about what to expect from your case. All of these tips should help you negotiate the claims process with a positive mental attitude, but if you need professional help, by all means, utilize the resources available to you. Before you know it, the wait will be over.