Have a Headache After a Car Accident? What You Need to Know

    In today’s day and age with extensive screen exposure and high-stress levels, many people suffer from headaches and migraines. From tension headaches to sinus pain, to constant headaches that last days, every case is different and has varying underlying causes. But not every headache is caused by stress and phone use. In fact, headaches are some of the most commonly experienced types of symptoms that a person can experience after an accident and may be an indication of a serious injury. Without proper care and treatment, an accident victim may experience serious complications related to these headaches. Read on for information on different types of headaches associated with car accidents, what treatment looks like, and how personal injury attorneys can help victims recover compensation for their damages.

    Common Types of Headaches and Symptoms After a Car Accident


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    There are many different types of headaches and head pain that a personal injury victim may suffer from following a car crash. Each type of headache can manifest different symptoms and have root causes in different areas of injury within the brain, skull, neck, and shoulder regions of the body. Sometimes they are the result of some form of head injury, but that’s not always the case. Compiled by the Pain Care Specialists of Florida, below are some of the most common types of headaches a victim may experience after an accident, as well as some possible causes of headaches:

    • Post-traumatic Headaches. This type of headache is usually caused by trauma to the head and neck during a car accident. Post-traumatic headaches can either be cervicogenic (originating from the neck), post-concussive (originating from the brain as the result of a concussion), from muscle contractions/spasms, or the pinching of upper cervical nerve roots of the neck or base of the skull. Typically, this type of headache does not appear for days or even weeks after the accident.
    • Post-concussion syndrome (migraine headaches): Concussions are injuries to the brain that are often caused by a sudden, intense impact on the head. Migraine headaches that are associated with concussions are a chemical phenomenon in the brain and can cause nausea, and sensitivity to light, sound, smells, and movement. Other symptoms of concussions include clouded thinking, memory loss, confusion, irritability, anxiety, sleep problems, balance issues, and ringing in the ears.
    • Muscle contraction/spasm headaches: Injuries to the muscles of the neck, head, or upper back are some of the most commonly experienced personal injuries after a car accident.  A sudden jolt on the neck and head during a car accident can tear or otherwise injure the soft muscle tissue in these areas, causing the muscles of the head and neck to strain or spasm. Along with headaches, these injuries can also cause a reduced range of motion, tenderness in the affected area, and swelling.
    • Whiplash headaches: Whiplash is a common type of neck injury associated with motor vehicle accidents. Whiplash is caused by a violent jolt upon the head and neck, often causing the head to be forced far forward and then far backward in rapid succession. For example, if the at-fault driver rear-ends your car, it causes a jerking motion. This jerking motion can strain and tear soft tissue around the head and neck. Whiplash headaches are generally focused near the base of the skull and may accompany neck pain or stiffness, dizziness, and fatigue. Often, whiplash headaches do not manifest for days or weeks following an accident.
    • Fracture headaches: When the skull or neck bones are fractured after an accident, the resulting injury can cause intense headaches for the victim. Pain is typically localized at the back of the head and neck or near the injury site. Along with persistent headaches, serious brain injury can also become an issue with fractures. Other signs and symptoms include nausea, confusion, slurred speech, or stiff neck.
    • Occipital neuralgia (pinched nerve) headaches: Compression of the spine or disc herniation after a car accident can result in the pinching of the upper cervical (neck) nerve roots or irritation of the greater occipital nerve at the base of the skull, causing headache pain. When these nerves are compressed, a victim will experience pain, tenderness, burning, numbness, and tingling from the neck/base of the skull up to the back of the head.
    • Traumatic brain injury (TBI): TBIs are the result of an outside force, typically a violent blow to the head, and are commonly caused by car accidents. Persistent headaches are one of many symptoms that victims can experience, as well as loss of consciousness, nausea or vomiting, convulsions or seizures, and more. TBIs are absolutely among the more severe conditions that can manifest as a headache after a car accident, so don’t wait to seek medical treatment if you experience these symptoms.

    Treatment Options for Headaches After a Car Accident

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    As mentioned above, some types of headaches may not manifest symptoms for days or even weeks after the head trauma occurred. The longer an injury to the head and neck goes untreated, the greater the risk of symptom severity. Therefore, it is always advised that anyone involved in an accident seeks medical attention as soon as possible to evaluate the severity of the injury. Medical professionals are capable of using diagnostic tools that can detect injuries to the brain, skull, and neck long before the victim experienced any of the associated physical symptoms.

    Treatment plans for these injuries are not one-size-fits-all and will be individualized to the accident victim and their symptoms. Patients may receive prescription medication to alleviate headache symptoms. For muscle issues, a course of physical therapy may be advised so that the victim can learn exercises that serve to strengthen and repair the damaged muscle tissue. In the most severe cases of injury (e.g. skull fractures), surgery may be needed to address the symptoms and prevent them from causing further complications for the victim.

    Recovering Compensation for Damages

    In the realm of personal injury law, the treatment and medical care for headaches after a car accident injury explained in the previous section are classified by a term known as damages. Damages are any costs that an accident victim incurs as a result of their injuries. When a person experiences headaches after incurring personal injury from an auto accident, the treatments described in the previous section are considered damages and may be eligible for reimbursement/compensation by completing the litigation process.

    Damages in personal injury litigation take two primary forms. The first, known as compensatory damages, are what the majority of Americans envision when they think of recovering monetary compensation for damages incurred in an accident. Compensatory damages, as the name suggests, are meant to “compensate” the injured person for the costs involved in remediating any injuries and damaged property that result from the accident. Compensatory damages can include the following:

    • Treatment for injuries: This can include both treatments received for immediate injuries at the scene of the accident as well as any ongoing treatment to address issues related to the headaches an injury victim may experience after a crash. Consultation with an experienced local car accident lawyer can help plaintiffs assess the anticipated costs of future medical care before heading to court.
    • Lost income: A court can award compensatory damages to address not only the salary and wages lost due to time off work for medical treatment after an accident but also any future income lost due to complications or life adjustments that must be made because of the injury.
    • Property loss: When a vehicle or other personal property is damaged in an accident, a plaintiff may be awarded compensatory damages to cover the costs of repairing or replacing the damaged items.

    Although compensatory damages are the primary form of compensation used by personal injury courts, there exists a second form of damages that may benefit plaintiffs in certain cases. Known as punitive damages, this type of compensation is awarded to plaintiffs to “punish” the defendant for their actions. Punitive damages are typically only awarded in cases where the defendant’s behavior was reckless or negligent to a significant degree. These damages are meant to send a message that the behavior that caused the accident has serious consequences.

    Getting Professional Legal Counsel

    Navigating the legal frameworks involved in personal injury litigation can be a daunting experience for the average American. The process can be even more taxing when the injured individual is suffering from ongoing issues due to headaches from a traumatic event. For years, the car accident attorneys at the law firm of Palermo Law Group have provided legal advice to accident victims in Oak Brook and throughout Chicagoland as they pursue the litigation process. Contact Palermo Law Group today for a free consultation.



    Mario Palermo is the Founder and Lead Attorney at Palermo Law Group in Oak Brook, Illinois. For the past 26 years, he has worked tirelessly to help injury victims and their families in their times of need. He is a seasoned authority on civil litigation, and also a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, a prestigious group of trial lawyers who have won million and multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements. Mr. Palermo has been named a “Leading Lawyer” by his peers in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022.

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