Effects of Litigation Settlements on Posttraumatic Stress Symptoms in Motor Vehicle Accident Victims

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In order to investigate the effects of the initiation of litigation and its settlement on victims of motor vehicle accidents (MVAs), we followed up 132 MVA victims from an initial assessment 1 to 4 months post-MVA for 1 year. Of the 67 who had initiated litigation. 18 (27%) settled within the 12 months, while 49 still had litigation pending; 65 never initiated litigation. Those who initiated litigation had more severe injuries and higher initial levels of posttraumatic stress (PTS) symptoms. All three groups improved in major role function and had reduced PTS symptoms over the 1 year follow-up. Those whose suits were still pending, as well as those whose suits had been settled, showed no reduction in measures of anxiety or depression, whereas the nonlitigants did show improvement on these measures.

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