There are few guarantees after a car accident, but a headache is often one of them.
Research shows that headaches are a regular occurrence after a motor vehicle accident. But not all headaches are directly related to the need to fill out insurance paperwork. Clinical studies show that examining and diagnosing patients after a car accident is essential for their health.
In fact, accepted standards of practice show that physicians should respond aggressively to a headache after a car accident that won’t go away.
Have you had a headache since your accident? Keep reading to find out what to do next.
1. Go to the Emergency Room or Your Doctor
Headaches after a car accident can result from an invisible injury, like a traumatic brain injury (TBI) or even a subdural hematoma (bleeding outside the brain caused by severe head injuries).
If you hit your head during the accident, you must rule out all worst-case options as soon as possible. However, you can even experience a brain injury (including hematoma) without hitting your head.
It doesn’t matter if you lost consciousness or even came into contact with a hard surface. A headache means you should visit the doctor immediately after the accident.
Your doctor may order a CT scan or MRI to get a clearer picture of the extent of your injury and rule out any life-threatening diagnoses. They may send you to the emergency room for a fuller evaluation
What you do next depends on what your doctor finds.
2. Monitor Your Headache
If your doctor rules out any life-threatening injuries, they will likely tell you to monitor your headache. Sometimes, it will go away.
Where your headache doesn’t go away, don’t ignore it. It could result from another injury, such as:
- A concussion
- A muscle strain (including whiplash)
- A pinched nerve
Your doctor and a chiropractor can help you diagnose the root cause of your headache and find the appropriate treatment.
Remember, the severity of a crash doesn’t determine the severity of your headache.
3. Keep Records
Whether you intend to file an insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit, you need appropriate records.
Keep a daily journal in the weeks after the accident. If you have a headache, write it down (and date it). You should also note how severe it is that day and what you tried for pain relief. It also helps to keep notes of any appointments you may have and how you feel before and after.
If your headache impedes your daily life, write it down. Note a loss of productivity at work, an inability to do things you enjoy, missed time spent with family, and other accommodations you make to keep up with your injury.
Do you have any bruising or bumps? Keep a record with daily photographs that show any visible signs of injury.
4. Consider a Personal Injury Lawsuit
A temporary stress headache may be normal in the aftermath of an accident. And it’s no reason to sue.
However, if your headache continues for weeks or even months, it may provide an impetus for a personal injury lawsuit. You should particularly consider it if the headache results from a traumatic brain injury.
You can sue to recoup the costs:
- Medical expenses and therapy after the car accident
- Lost income based on time off
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Pain and suffering
What Do You Need to Sue for Headaches?
Successful personal injury cases based on headaches typically have three parts:
- A documented head injury (as shown by CT/MRI)
- Property damage and/or grave error on the part of the at-fault driver (serious car accident)
- Testimony from a physician or neurologist
You likely have a more valuable case (for pain and suffering damages) if the evidence shows that the loss results from the accident alone and that you will live with headaches for years – if not the rest of your life.
If you decide to file a personal injury case, then steps #1-3 are very important. One of the insurance industry’s go-to defenses in these cases is that they are invisible injuries. You can’t see a headache, so who is to say that you have them? Although you can present yourself as a person of honesty and integrity, your records and notes make a huge difference in your credibility.
As a result, it is crucial to go to the doctor early (on the day or within a few days after the crash). You also need to continue going to appointments and following the treatment plan prescribed.
Things to Know Before You Sue
Insurance companies look for any other explanation for your headaches beyond the car accident.
You need extra help crafting a case if you:
- Have a family history of migraines
- Take medications with a side-effect of headaches/migraines
- Struggled with headaches in the past (in your medical records)
In these cases, a neurologist may argue that it’s impossible to know the extent to which the car accident contributes to your headaches.
A car accident attorney in Atlanta can help you figure out how to present your case to your insurance company and later a jury.
Do You Have a Headache After a Car Accident?
Having a headache after a car accident is common. Stress, minor cases of whiplash, and that insurance paperwork can all give anyone a sore head.
However, if you have a headache, you shouldn’t leave well enough alone. If it develops in the hours or days after your accident, you need to visit a doctor or the emergency room to rule out potentially life-threatening causes.
And if your headache doesn’t go away and you struggle with chronic headaches, you have options.
Were you injured in a car accident in Atlanta? Click here for our guide on how to file an insurance claim.
Seth Bader is an Auto accident, Workers Compensation and Personal Injury Attorney who practices in Atlanta, Rome, Savannah, Norcross, Carrollton, Georgia. He graduated from Florida State University College of Law, and has been practicing law for 14 years. Seth Bader believes in fighting for the injured. Learn more about his experience by clicking here.