Post-traumatic amnesia and other memory loss after a crash

If you suffered a concussion or other brain injury in a crash, you may have some difficulty with your memory in the days, weeks or even longer, afterward. This can involve short-term memory loss where you have trouble recalling whether you ate breakfast. You may have memory problems with events in the past – particularly around the crash itself. This is often called post-traumatic amnesia (PTA). It can occur after any traumatic event. 

Any memory loss can be frightening – especially when law enforcement, insurance companies and others need to know your recollection of what happened. Not all memory loss, however, is amnesia.

Two types of post-traumatic amnesia

Most PTA after a car crash is anterograde amnesia. It affects the memories of what occurred in the immediate aftermath of the event. You may recall driving along and then suddenly seeing a car swerve in front of you that you can’t avoid, but it may all be a blur or completely blank after that. 

Retrograde amnesia is another type of PTA. With retrograde amnesia following a crash, the moments leading up to the crash may be forgotten. Your last memory may be of something mundane like stopping at a light. Your next memory may be in an ambulance or at the hospital.

Memory loss surrounding a head injury is typically caused by swelling in the brain. As it goes down, the memories often return – but not always.

Don’t provide information you’re not certain about

It’s crucial to be careful about not providing the information you’re not absolutely sure of to insurance representatives or the police. Don’t let other people – particularly those who don’t have your best interests at heart – tell you what happened. 

If you’re suffering from memory loss after a crash, it’s wise to have legal guidance to help ensure that you get the compensation you need for medical costs and other expenses and damages. You don’t want to reach a settlement until you know the full extent of your injuries – including your memory loss – and their effect on your life and your work.