Personal Injury - Psychological Evaluation

Psychological trauma can result from almost any physical injury, especially if the injury occurs within a life-threatening event.

Injuries that are physically disfiguring or those which disable primary adaptive functions are more likely to result in psychological trauma. Additionally, psychological trauma can occur in the absence of any significant physical injury, either as the result of witnessing trauma in others, or following personal escape from serious injury following a traumatic event. Psychological trauma may result in a post traumatic stress response (the most commonly expected diagnosis), but it can also cause depression, simple phobias, agoraphobia, generalized anxiety, or dissociation and psychosis. Psychologists also evaluate the functional impact of head injury, such as loss of specific memory functions, cognitive impairment, loss of learning ability, disturbed spatial ability, or amnesia. The evaluation of possible malingering is also considered in psychological evaluations in personal injury cases.

Possible reasons for psychological consultation in personal injury cases: 

  • Psychologists may complete evaluations of individuals (interviews and testing) involved in traumatic events to assess their psychological functioning, and to determine if they present with any psychological impairment that is a direct result of that trauma.
  • Psychologists may evaluate the impact of trauma on pre-existing psychological conditions to determine if the trauma has exacerbated those conditions.
  • Psychologists may complete second opinion evaluations on individuals who have already been identified as experiencing the effects of psychological trauma. This is often called an IME (Independent Medical Exam) by insurance carriers, even if the assessment is psychological rather than medical. The goal may be to confirm or challenge the earlier findings, to evaluate the causal relationship between a traumatic event and the identified psychological problem, to assess the effects of treatment thus far, or to determine if additional treatment is indicated or waranted.
  • Psychologists may provide treatment to individuals following identification of psychological trauma. This may be done in conjunction with an evaluation to identify the psychological trauma, or after a diagnosis has been made by another psychologist, or other health professional.