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I’m Suffering Headaches After a Car Accident. What Should I Do?

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Headaches are a common complaint after a car accident. Why do they occur? It can be the abrupt stop that throws your head back and forth. This back and forth motion causes the brain to bounce around in the skull. Headaches are a sign of whiplash. They can also occur if your head hits a hard object like the window frame. Even the stress related to filling out lengthy car accident reports and insurance claims can cause headaches. Headaches are not a symptom to ignore. They’re real pain and can be indicators of more serious issues. If you’re experiencing headaches following a crash, take these steps.

Talk to a Doctor

Ideally, when the accident occurred you went to the hospital or were seen by paramedics. This starts a paper trail that ties your injuries to the accident. What you don’t want is an insurance adjuster trying to claim that something happened to you between the time of the accident and the time you experienced headaches. It can be harder to prove injuries were the result of the accident if you refused a medical examination.

Follow your doctor’s orders. If you’re told to call if you experience any new symptoms, do exactly that. You might not think that slight ache is worth troubling a doctor, but it could be a warning sign for something bigger. If your doctor says to avoid computers or TV screens for a full week, do that too. If you have a concussion and ignore orders, you could cause additional damage.

Know the Types of Headaches

One of the most common headaches occurs with a concussion. A concussion occurs when you take a blow to the head or when the head or body is violently shaken. Rapidly being thrown forward and backward during a crash, hitting the steel frame of the car, or hitting another object in the car all can cause concussions. Symptoms include headaches, dizziness, confusion, and fatigue. With a concussion, your doctor will likely tell you to go home with someone who can monitor you for a day or two. You’ll have to give up sports, too much social activity, and screen time for a day or two and take over-the-counter medications for the headache pain.

Whiplash is another common reason for a crash-related headache. Whiplash can take days to present following a car accident. It’s an injury of the muscles, ligaments, nerves, or bones in the upper spine. The quick back and forth motion causes whiplash. The force of a rear-end collision thrusts your back into the headrest, towards the windshield, and back to the headrest, which strains the neck. Symptoms include neck pain, pain that extends into the arms, headache, loss of motion, fatigue, and dizziness. It’s unlikely a doctor will find evidence of whiplash in X-rays, MRIs, or CT scans. Those scans can rule out other injuries, however. If whiplash is diagnosed, you’ll use over-the-counter medications for the pain. Physical therapy is often used to help improve movement.

Bruising on the brain happens when the brain bounces around in the skull during a car crash. This bruising heals over time, but it can cause headaches in the meantime. It’s a form of traumatic brain injury that’s mild. If the injury goes beyond bruises, broken blood vessels put pressure on the brain in a condition known as intracranial hematomas. If blood vessels break, the pressure needs to be relieved immediately. Intracranial hematomas need urgent medical attention, so it’s best to see a doctor if there is any sign of a headache. If a doctor says the headache is normal and to go home and rest, it’s your right to ask for a second opinion. If you feel the headache is not typical, speak up. You don’t want to be an hour from a hospital when blood vessels rupture.

Stress headaches are possible and harder to prove. You deal with a lot after a car crash. You’re talking to insurance companies to get claims started. You have to file police reports and answer a lot of questions. You have to schedule time off work if the injuries affect your ability to work. You need to get another car. It’s stressful. Stress headaches are usually mild to moderate and occur with muscle tension. Stress-reducing techniques may help, but it’s more likely you’ll need to take over-the-counter medications to ease the pain until things are back to normal. Stress headaches are one of the most problematic when it comes to auto insurance settlements. The insurance adjuster is likely to claim you’re making it up to get more money.

If the crash you’re in causes a skull fracture, you’re going to have a severe headache. It’s also common to have nausea, slurred speech, and confusion. If there’s brain swelling, you may need to undergo surgery to reduce the pressure. You’ll be in the hospital for a while, so you have to take time off work. You’ll have plenty of follow-up appointments. You may need physical therapy. If the brain injury causes lasting damage, you may not be able to remain in the job you had. You must seek legal representation as a skull fracture can completely change your life.

When you’re dealing with a headache on this list, only a skull fracture is one you can easily prove. The others won’t be noticeable in x-rays, scans, or by having the doctor press different areas of your skull. You have to communicate your symptoms as best as you can. You need to make sure you tell the doctor if your symptoms worsen or change. Keep copies of all paperwork you get from the doctor’s office or hospital. You may need that if you have to seek a lawyer’s help in getting a fair settlement.

What Happens if the Insurance Company Denies Medical Coverage?

What do you do if the insurance company refuses to pay for medical bills related to your headaches? Don’t panic. It’s going to be stressful hearing “no,” but you have every right to fight for coverage of your headache-related medical bills.

Auto insurance companies want proof that injuries are real and not faked. Headaches are hard to prove as many types of headaches won’t show up on scans. They have to take your word for it, and that’s not something they want to do. You need the strongest proof you can get from a medical professional. This is where your doctor and/or a headache specialist is important. The second most important person to talk to is an experienced head injury attorney.

You may think it’s easier to take the amount the insurance company offers, but what if it’s not enough? What if you sign the paperwork and find it’s harder to get a similar car than you thought for the money you’ve been given in the settlement? What if the headaches haven’t gone away after months? Accepting the first settlement offer isn’t in your best interest. You must be sure to talk to a car accident attorney.

Trial Lawyers For Justice is here for you. If you’re suffering from headaches following a motor vehicle accident, talk to us. You can reach us via live chat or by calling 1-866-TL4J-LAW. Our attorneys are available 24/7 to answer your questions and help you understand the next steps to take regarding your car accident. Don’t worry about the legal fees. If we can help you, you don’t pay anything unless we win.

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Trial by Human

Nick Rowley founded Trial by Human, a nationwide legal education course to help trial lawyers improve their skills in the courtroom by "being human".