Amnesia is often used as a plot-point in soap operas and romantic movies, but it is a genuine injury. Its simplified depiction also means it’s poorly understood by the general public.
Temporary amnesia (transient global amnesia) can follow even mild head injuries. Researchers believe that when you combine a head injury with the stress of a car accident, amnesia can appear without the need for a traumatic brain injury.
If you experience short-term memory loss after a car accident, then you need an advocate on your side. Here’s what you need to know if you or someone you love experienced temporary amnesia after a car accident.
Why Memory Loss Makes Accidents Complicated
Any car accident injury can be devastating: broken bones, impalement, and internal damage all require medical attention and even extensive treatments.
The problem with memory loss, however, is that you can’t perform an x-ray or a CT scan to see it. You may not even realize you suffer from temporary amnesia until days or even weeks after the accident.
Not only do many people not realize they are experiencing memory loss, but the experience is subjective. If they report their memory loss, they may struggle to get a diagnosis, much less treatment for it.
At the same time, memory loss can have untold impacts on your life. From losing precious memories to experiencing skill loss, memory loss isn’t a linear process that always impacts one set of memories. It can affect your stored memories and/or even challenge your brain in creating new memories.
What Are Types of Temporary Amnesia Occur After Car Accidents?
Temporary amnesia and amnesia, in general, are often associated with traumatic brain injuries (TBI).
A TBI occurs when your head suffers a blow or bump. Half of all TBIs occur after a motor vehicle accident. Banging your head off the window or steering wheel or being hit by an unsecured projectile can cause a TBI. Not all brain injuries lead to permanent damage, but a TBI often comes with lasting impacts with the worst injuries, even resulting in death.
You might not experience symptoms of a TBI until days or even weeks after your injury.
If you experience amnesia or memory loss, then you will find you experience one of three types:
- Anterograde amnesia
- Retrograde amnesia
- Post-traumatic amnesia
Let’s look at the types of amnesia one-by-one.
Anterograde amnesia is the most common type of memory loss experienced after a car accident.
When you have anterograde amnesia, you struggle to form new memories starting from the time of the accident.
If you have anterograde amnesia, you might remember how to drive or how to get your old high school, but you won’t remember what you had for breakfast. This is because those two memories are two different types (declarative and non-declarative) and are stored in two different parts of the brain. The new memories aren’t encoded and stored, and you may even forget what you did 30 seconds ago.
There’s no cure for anterograde amnesia, but rehab and therapy can help treat it. You’ll work with occupational therapists and your family and use tools like diaries and reminder beepers or alarms to help you remember things.
Retrograde amnesia is the most popularly depicted form of amnesia. It is the type of amnesia where you struggle to access old memories from before the amnesia set in (from before the car accident).
TBIs following a car accident can cause retrograde amnesia (with the most severe injuries leading to more permanent amnesia), but it is also caused by Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, seizures, and encephalitis. As with anterograde amnesia, the injury does not necessarily have to be the most severe to cause this type of amnesia.
There are cases of people suffering mild trauma and experiencing retrograde amnesia.
The most common form of retrograde amnesia is “temporally graded.” That means that your older memories remain accessible, but you lose access to newer memories. You might remember your high school graduation, but you can’t remember that you bought a new pair of shoes two weeks ago.
Even when people lose amounts of memories, they typically still remember things from their childhood or adolescence.
Post-traumatic stress amnesia occurs when you can’t remember the hours or days directly following your injury (the car accident). You may suffer from total memory loss or only partial loss. It is also common to experience general confusion during this period.
How a Lawyer Can Help
Your amnesia is the result of a head injury, usually a TBI, and it should be considered in your compensation for a car accident. Because memory loss is a sign of a brain injury, it could place real limitations on your quality of life, even jeopardizing your job and your relationships.
Unlike a broken bone, there’s no cure for amnesia or a TBI. If you receive this diagnosis, you are in for an extended period of testing and therapy. You may even need to make like-long alterations to the way you live by using journaling and timers.
However, because a TBI may not appear for days or weeks after your accident, you may have a difficult time getting the compensation you deserve. And because it is hard to quantify just how much one impacts your life, you need help putting a number on the table.
Car accident lawyers make arguments on your behalf to the liable party’s insurance company and in court if you and your family choose to sue after an accident.
Have You Suffered a TBI from a Car Accident?
If you have been in a car accident and Kansas City and you experience temporary amnesia, then you deserve compensation. And your compensation must account for the trauma associated with memory loss and brain injuries.
Car accidents are the most common cause of TBIs in the United States, and a car accident lawyer can work with you to understand the real cost of the injury to your life.
Have you or someone you loved suffered memory loss after an auto accident? Get in touch with our team to learn more about your options.
Adam Krause is a personal injury, mass tort, business litigation, and employment discrimination attorney who practices in Kansas City, Missouri. He graduated from the University of Missouri Kansas City School of Law and has been practicing law for several years now. Adam Krause has made a career of taking complicated litigation and presenting it in the most elementary terms for a jury of your peers to understand. Learn more about his experience here.