Is It Possible to Not Remember a Traumatic Event?

Is It Possible to Not Remember a Traumatic Event?

It is indeed possible to experience memory loss regarding a traumatic event. This phenomenon is referred to as “dissociative amnesia.” This isn’t the same as other types of amnesia, as people with dissociative amnesia still have painful memories of the traumatic event; however, they are unable to access those memories through simple recall. 

Researchers have found that people with dissociative amnesia were subjected to an overwhelmingly intense stress during the traumatic event. It can occur as a result of a serious car accident, for example. This is significant because it may have implications for any personal injury lawsuit that may result from the car crash. 

What to do if you don’t remember a personal injury accident at all 

Accidents tend to happen in a matter of seconds. This alone can cause problems with memory and recall for the victims. Further complicating the problem is the fact that in some cases, victims lose consciousness during the accident, which blocks memory formation, as well as the fact that some victims may fall prey to dissociative amnesia. In other words, it’s possible to live through a traumatic accident and have no memory of this major event. 

If this happens to you, be honest with the police officer who takes your statement. You may later regain your memories, but for the time being, you shouldn’t try to give your version of the events if you aren’t sure what happened. If you do decide to explore the possibility of filing a personal injury lawsuit, your lawyer can rely on the police report, eyewitness statements, and physical evidence (such as traffic camera footage) to reconstruct the events. 

What to do if you later regain your memories 

In many cases, victims remember part, but not all, of the event. This is quite common because accidents tend to happen quickly. In a matter of seconds, lives can be taken away and victims can become catastrophically injured. It isn’t easy to clearly recall the sequence of events that took place. Furthermore, during and after a serious event, the brain releases a cascade of stress-related chemicals. The brain’s stress response can also interfere with a victim’s memory. 

If you were interviewed by the investigating officer at the scene of the accident, not all of the details might make it into the initial police report because you may have trouble recalling all of them. However, during the days and weeks to come, you’ll likely start to adapt to the situation and get your stress level under control. This can trigger your recall of the sequence of events and you may start to remember crucial details.  

If this happens to you, you should promptly call your attorney to discuss the situation. Know that your lawyer will not assume that you were lying at the scene or are lying now; injury attorneys are accustomed to working with victims with patchy memories. He or she will check the evidence to see if it supports your newly uncovered memories.  

For example, in the event of a car accident, you may have initially told the police that you weren’t sure whether the other driver was using a cellphone at the time of the crash, but now you do remember seeing a phone. Your attorney may discover that the police have already found that the other driver’s cellphone records indicate a call in progress at that time. 

In short, your new memories may or may not affect your case. Regardless, your attorney needs to know all the information you have in order to thoroughly assess and prepare your case. 

Get the help you need in Southern California 

The personal injury lawyers at Ellis Injury Law have been fighting for the rights of victims for more than 25 years. Along the way, we have recovered more than $350 million on behalf of our clients. If you were injured in California, you can contact our law firm in Los Angeles to explore your legal options and learn about your rights. Even if you are experiencing issues with your memory, you may have the basis to file a lawsuit and demand compensation for your injuries and other losses. Call today to request a free consultation.