Headaches after a car accident - causes, symptoms & when to get legal help
The stress of dealing with the aftermath of an auto accident is enough to bring on a headache, but headaches that persist, or get worse, could be a sign of serious brain injury and shouldn’t be dismissed.
Headaches that start after an accident are known as post-traumatic headaches because they occur after a traumatic event. Surprisingly, the severity of the accident doesn’t correlate to the severity of the headache. Even a fender bender or low-speed rear end collision can cause a post-traumatic headache.
What causes headaches after a car accident?
Post-traumatic headaches are typically caused by a blow to the head or violent shaking of the head (as in the case of whiplash). They can start immediately after the accident or within hours or days. They can come and go or they can be constant.
The three most common causes of headaches after an accident are:
Whiplash is the term for neck injuries caused by the rapid forward and backward movement of the head that typically occurs in rear-end accidents. Headaches caused by whiplash tend to radiate from the base of the skull upward to the forehead.
A concussion is a brain injury typically caused by a blow to the head, but can also be caused by a violent shaking of the head and upper body. Headaches, difficulty concentrating, amnesia, slurred speech, and problems with balance and coordination are common.
Traumatic brain injury
Traumatic brain injuries are typically caused by a violent blow to the head or an object penetrating the skull and brain tissue. A mild traumatic brain injury usually has temporary effects, while serious ones can cause long-term problems and even death.
Common headache symptoms after a car accident
It’s easy to dismiss a headache as a temporary nuisance and just take a few aspirins. Bad idea. A recurring headache after an auto accident can be a symptom of a serious brain injury. Don’t tell yourself the headaches will eventually go away—always see a doctor.
If you have any of the following symptoms, there is a good chance your headache could be the result of a brain injury:
- Throbbing, aching head pain
- Sensation of tightness or pressure on forehead and/or the sides and back of your head
- Confusion or feeling foggy
- Blurred vision
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea or dizziness
- Tenderness or tension on scalp, neck and shoulder muscles
- Mood swings or personality changes
- Sleeping a lot
Car accident victims who suffer headaches after a crash may also experience other symptoms from their injuries, including back and neck pain. Don't assume you weren't seriously injured just because you walked away - get experienced legal counsel to learn what your claim may be worth.
How long do post-traumatic headaches last?
It all depends on the severity of the injury. Post-traumatic headaches can be occasional or constant. They can last 20 minutes or they can incapacitate you all day. If they occur more than half of the days in a month, or for at least three consecutive months, they’re considered to be “chronic” headaches. Anything less than this and they’re considered “episodic.”
Treatment for headaches caused by a car accident
All too often, people just assume the headaches they’re experiencing after an accident will go away after a while. That’s a dangerous assumption. You really need to get checked over by a doctor to make sure there isn’t serious damage to your brain that can cause other problems, like these:
Seizures. A traumatic brain injury can cause you to develop seizures. They don’t just occur right after the accident, either. They can occur years after the injury and can be recurrent (a condition called post-traumatic epilepsy.)
Hydrocephalus (Fluid buildup in the brain). A traumatic brain injury can cause cerebrospinal fluid to build up in the spaces in the brain (cerebral ventricles), resulting in increased swelling and pressure in the brain.
Blood vessel damage. If the accident damaged blood vessels in your brain, you are susceptible to stroke, blood clots and other problems.
Headaches and other symptoms may be delayed after a car accident. To protect your health and your legal rights, seek professional medical attention and consult with a personal injury attorney with the resources to fight for your compensation.
Can you sue for headaches after a car accident?
If the headaches you’re suffering are the result of whiplash or a traumatic brain injury caused by an accident and someone else’s negligence, you most definitely have a legal right to file a personal injury suit to recover the expenses you’ve incurred for treatment, as well as for lost time from work.
You need an attorney to represent you
Insurance companies aren’t likely to just offer a settlement that fully covers the losses accident victims sustain. To get what you’re truly owed for your medical expenses and time lost from work, you need an experienced personal injury attorney to represent you. Steve Caya understands how insurance companies work and has years of proven success helping accident victims get the settlements they deserve.
You should know that in Wisconsin there is a statute of limitations (Wisconsin Statues section 893.54) on filing a lawsuit. You have 3 years from the date of your accident to initiate a personal injury lawsuit. This may seem like a long time, but you’d be surprised how quickly the time can fly by if you’re embroiled in never-ending negotiations with an insurance company over a settlement. Don’t put it off!
3 things you can do to improve your chances of getting a fair settlement:
- Document everything! Get copies of the police report and any accompanying witness statements, keep a log of all phone calls you make to your insurance company with notes about what was discussed, save all emails and other correspondence with your insurance company.
- Do not put off seeking medical treatment for your headaches. First and foremost, you need to make sure the headaches aren’t a sign of serious brain trauma, but you also need evidence that your headaches were/are serious enough to warrant medical attention.
- Keep a record of all medical expenses you’ve incurred to treat your injuries and the recurring headaches (including over the counter meds and your mileage traveling to and from doctor appointments). If the headaches kept you from working, document the days you could not work.
Related: 6 things you MUST know before filing a car accident lawsuit in Wisconsin.
Settlements for headaches caused by a motor vehicle accident
Still having headaches from a car accident? Get a free case evaluation anywhere in Wisconsin
Start today and request a free initial consultation with Steve Caya. Our offices are located in Janesville, about an hour south of Madison, but we can meet you anywhere in the state to discuss your case.