Suffering Headache Injury After Car Accident


Headaches are one of the most common ways a car crash victim is affected, yet they aren’t talked about nearly as frequently as many other types of injuries. We’ll discuss how to address headaches from a claims perspective with the goal of educating and helping you protect your rights.

In this article, we’ll cover….

What Typically Causes Headaches After a Car Accident?
What are the Different Types of Headaches?
Why You Should Always Document Your Headaches
How to Document Your Headache
What is the Value of My Headache Pain and Suffering?)

Let’s get started…

What Typically Causes Headaches After a Car Accident?

There are a lot of different things that can lead you to suffer from a headache and neck pain following an accident. Determining exactly what caused the headache and neck pain can also prove to pose its own challenges.

Suffering from headaches after an accident may also be referred to as a Post-Traumatic Headache. A Post- Traumatic Headache is typically caused by some kind of trauma that has been inflicted on the head or neck of a person involved in a car accident.

Post-Traumatic headaches can last anywhere between a week and up to three months. While they have no typical characteristics, for them to be caused by the accident they should begin to make an appearance within seven days following the accident in which you sustained the injury or within seven days of regaining consciousness following the injury.

If the headaches last less than three months, then they are considered to be acute. However, headaches that persist longer than three months are said to be more chronic.

A Post-Traumatic Headache will typically mimic a migraine or tension headache and they are quite common following a traumatic incident in which mild, moderate, or severe injuries are sustained.

Neck pain is sometimes an immediate symptom following an accident, however, it may also take several hours or even days for the neck pain to show. If you are suffering from headaches in addition to the neck pain, be sure to report it to the doctor who is treating you after the accident to be sure that nothing is missed.

Here are some of the main reasons why you might be experiencing post-accident headaches [1].

  1. A blow or impact to the head during the accident — You don’t need to get a concussion to get a headache from a car accident. The head is a very sensitive instrument and hitting this soft tissue with enough force can spark a series of headaches easily.

Hitting your head against an object in a car accident that did not result in anything penetrating the skull is referred to as a closed head injury. However, if anything does hit the head and is able to penetrate, even a very small object, it is considered to be an open head injury.

  1. Whiplash — Whiplash commonly comes with the side effect of headaches because it means that muscles, tendons, and nerves around the head have probably become inflamed. Oftentimes, whiplash-related headaches start with pain in the neck and then migrate to your head.

The headaches resulting from whiplash may seem a bit more severe and can cause a lot of neck pain as well. However, the headache is usually still more painful than any discomfort you may continue to feel in the neck.

  1. Hypertension — Another way of saying high blood pressure, hypertension can be a down the road symptom that leads to headaches. Post-traumatic stress can play a role here as well [2] — essentially any uptick in your daily level of stress and tension has the potential to cause headaches.

Post traumatic stress following an accident may also increase a person’s anxiety levels, among other symptoms.

  1. Concussion — Everyone will be somewhat familiar with concussions, and in the aftermath of sustaining one, headaches are quite common. They can be isolated symptoms or part of the wider “post-concussion syndrome” [3]

Post-concussion syndrome, or PCS, may stick around for several weeks and even up to a year following an injury. It is also considered to be a very mild form of a traumatic brain injury, or TBI.

What are the Different Types of Headaches After a Car Accident?

There are many different types of injuries that can cause headaches after an accident. These headaches tend to manifest in the following forms:

Post-Traumatic Headaches – typically caused by trauma to the head and neck during a car accident, the symptoms of a post-traumatic headache won’t normally appear until a few days or weeks have passed as mentioned above.

Post-Concussive Headaches or Migraines – Migraine headaches are often associated with concussions and tend to come hand in hand with nausea (or vomiting) and light sensitivity. If the migraine is bad enough, the symptoms can include confusion, dizziness, memory loss, and even more severe symptoms.

Post-concussive headaches may also cause balance problems, sleep problems, foggy thinking, and fatigue. It is always in your best interest to monitor any symptoms you may be experiencing and monitor them closely for any changes in intensity because this could mean something more serious.

Muscle-Contraction/Spasm Headaches – Injured muscles in the upper back or neck are a common cause of post-accident headaches. Along with headaches, reduced range of motion, stiffness, and swelling are common symptoms as well.

Whiplash Headaches – Whiplash is where your head is violently thrust too far forward or backward and often results in soft tissue injury. The resulting headaches of whiplash are often located near the base of the skull, and may be accompanied by neck pain or stiffness, and fatigue.

Why You Should Always Document Your Headaches

For some people, headaches will begin immediately following an accident, for others there can be a bit of a delayed onset. The most important thing is to quickly get in to see a doctor.

Seeing a doctor has two benefits:

    1. It increases the odds the doctor can diagnosis, and more importantly effectively treat your headaches. This will help reduce your symptoms and the chances of having long term problems.
    2. It also protects your legal rights to file a claim and get compensation for your injury. The sooner the treatment is sought the easier it is to connect your symptoms to the accident.

Keeping detailed documentation of any injury after a car accident is a good idea, but this is particularly true when it comes to headaches. A headache is not as objective as say a broken arm — so the more documentation you have the better.

How to Document Your Headache After a Car Accident

We recommend that people keep a headache diary where you should:

    • List of any medications to treat headaches.
    • Track your symptoms ex: nausea, fever, vomiting
    • Note any side effects ex: inability to sleep or work/move properly
    • Document the duration of your pain and suffering

Doing this you’ll likely see some patterns in your headaches and while this may sound like a hassle, it can really pay off in terms of your claim.

You also want to be sure to take note of any times when a headache is impairing your ability to function day to day, go to work, etc.

What is the Value of your Headache Pain and Suffering?

As with all types of injury claims, the timelier a manner in which you report it the better. If you notice a few months after your accident that you are getting a lot of headaches it doesn’t mean you can’t file a claim, but it may be harder to substantiate it.

Determining the value of your headache claim is going to depend on a handful of different factors. Some of these factors are:

    • Pain and suffering caused by your accident-related headaches
    • The cost of doctor’s visits, medical tests and any medications you are required to take
    • Lost wages or income — any days you are unable to work due to your headache should be considered part of your claim.

The economic damages such as medical bills are easy to pin down, but the pain and suffering can a little bit more difficult. If you feel uncertain you can always seek the advice of an attorney.

Settlement and verdict statistics concerning headache cases vary and some of the data might even prove to be very misleading and provide little to no value. There is a notable difference between a person suffering a few headaches here and there and a person who is suffering from more severe headache symptoms that result in them becoming unable to perform certain tasks.


Headaches caused by car accidents can be serious, painful, and debilitating. Because they are typically considered more of a “normal” symptom they can get overlooked at times — if you’ve recently been in an accident make sure this doesn’t happen to you.

Just be sure to remember that:

    • Headaches are one of the most common injuries sustained from car accidents.
    • Headaches can be related to blunt force, concussions, hypertension, post-traumatic stress and whiplash.
    • You want to always document headache pain and suffering through a diary, journal entries, medical costs, etc.
    • Determining the value of your headache claim will depend on your pain and suffering, medical expenses, and lost income.


[1] – National Library of Medicine
[2]- Mayo Clinic


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