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Can a Car Accident Cause Amnesia?

Although it is relatively rare, a car accident can cause amnesia in a victim. Amnesia or memory loss can be connected to traumatic brain injuries that are suffered in motor vehicle collisions. Whether or not a victim recovers from amnesia and restores lost memories will depend on the specific case and patient.

Traumatic Brain Injuries and Amnesia

Traumatic brain injuries, or TBIs, can occur in a car accident due to a bump or blow to a victim’s head or skull. An external force or impact to the head can cause the brain to strike the inside of the skull and suffer a bruise (hematoma) or damage to the cells. Injuries such as swelling (edema), bleeding (hemorrhages), concussions and contusions may also take place.

A traumatic brain injury can cause two main types of amnesia: anterograde and retrograde. Anterograde amnesia refers to trouble retaining new memories after the brain injury has been sustained. Retrograde amnesia means the loss of memories that were formed shortly before the injury occurred. Both types of amnesia can be partial or total, as well as temporary or permanent.

Signs of a Brain Injury After a Car Accident

It can be difficult to diagnose a brain injury after a car accident. A sudden increase in adrenaline in the victim’s blood can mask or hide the signs of a brain injury, such as related pain or a headache. In addition, traumatic brain injury symptoms can take hours or even days to manifest themselves. This includes memory loss caused by a brain injury.

Memory loss might initially be shrugged off as just “brain fog” or disorientation caused by the trauma of the accident itself (also known as post-traumatic amnesia). However, some signs can point to more serious types of TBI-related amnesia. A victim may struggle with confusion, trouble concentrating and difficulty organizing thoughts.

If accompanied by other symptoms of a brain injury, such as headache, fatigue, nausea or irritability, memory loss could be a red flag for a TBI. Car accident victims should always seek medical care after a crash to diagnose a brain injury that might have hidden or delayed symptoms. Detecting a TBI can allow the victim to receive prompt treatment.

Is Amnesia From a Car Accident Permanent?

How long a car accident victim experiences memory loss from a brain injury will depend on the individual circumstances. Anterograde amnesia is the most common type of memory loss associated with car accident victims. Depending on the case, a patient with anterograde amnesia may be unable to form new memories for days or weeks after a car accident.

If a patient experiences retrograde amnesia, he or she may be able to achieve a complete recovery and regain lost memories with prompt treatment. Brain injury treatments often include therapies, medications and rest. However, the level of recovery will depend on the individual. No two brain injuries are exactly alike.

Compensation Is Available for Car Accident Victims With Amnesia

If you get diagnosed with a brain injury that involves memory loss or amnesia, consult with a car accident attorney at Cannon Law for a free case review about your legal rights. You may be eligible to recover financial compensation for the medical costs, hospital bills, treatments, loss of enjoyment of life, lost wages and any permanent disability associated with your brain injury. One or more parties may be held financially responsible for inflicting your memory loss.