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What to Do if You Have a Headache After a Car Accident

Headaches usually are no big deal. By taking some ibuprofen and resting, you can knock them out and move on with your life.

Headaches after a car accident, on the other hand, may not be so harmless. If left untreated, post-traumatic headaches, as they’re called, could not only persist for years to come, affecting your quality of your life, but they could cause permanent disability or even death.

This is not to say you should think the worst if your head hurts after a car accident. In fact, headaches after car crashes are normal. We just want to make sure you don’t ignore head pain after a car accident, because there is always the possibility that something serious is behind it, such as a concussion.

By taking swift action to seek treatment, you may be able to prevent further injury and secure for yourself a headaches after car accident settlement. What’s the best part? It generally will cost you nothing up front. At Hensley Legal Group, we only charge you if you win.

Whether you’re dealing with a crippling headache that won’t resolve through ordinary means or you have a whiplash headache and neck pain after a car accident, working with a personal injury firm can help ensure you are fairly compensated for your injuries and the pain and suffering you’ve endured as a result of them.

We encourage you to seek qualified representation, even if it’s not through our firm, because insurers are not your friend. If they can justify not paying you anything for your head pain after a car accident, they often will. That’s why you need someone to look out for your best interests.

Can a Car Accident Cause Headaches?

Car accidents not only are known to cause headaches, but headaches are some of the most universally experienced symptoms after car accidents. While headaches may not immediately be apparent, that does not mean they won’t eventually appear.

Did you know it’s common to not feel pain immediately following an auto collision? Car accidents can cause adrenaline to course through your body, which can result in pain temporarily being masked.

When pain symptoms emerge in the days, weeks or months following your accident, it can be shocking, because you may have falsely believed you had no injuries. But experiencing a delayed onset of pain symptoms, especially headaches, is quite normal.

While headaches after car accidents are not necessarily a cause for concern, they should not be taken lightly, either. As a matter of fact, it’s a good idea to be evaluated by a medical professional after a car accident, regardless of whether you believe you’re injured or not.

Even though you may only feel slight head pressure after a car accident, or no pressure at all, that does not mean you’ve emerged from your accident scot-free. The only way to know for certain the cause and severity of your headaches after a car accident is to consult with a medical professional.

How Long Can Headaches Last After a Car Accident?

While headaches after a car accident are not always caused by a serious injury, they can be crippling nevertheless. It’s natural to wonder about how long your headaches will persist.

Unfortunately, we cannot provide an accurate response surrounding how long your headache after a car crash will last, as the length of your headaches will depend on the nature and severity of your injuries — which only a medical professional can diagnose.

We discuss the different types of headaches that can result from a car accident, as well as a timeframe for how long they could last, later in this article.

In the next section, you’ll learn about what to do following a car accident if you are experiencing headaches.

Steps to Take for Head Pain After a Car Accident

From potentially having to shop for new cars to requesting time off work and seeking medical care, car accidents can be overwhelming. While your health should be one of your top priorities — if not your top priority — it can be easy to put it on the back burner while you deal with the other repercussions of the accident. This, however, is not recommended.

By working with a personal injury law firm after your car accident, you can take all the right steps from the get go, both to recover faster and secure a better headaches after car accident settlement.

Why You Should Consult With a Personal Injury Law Firm for Headaches After a Car Accident

We already warned you that insurance companies are not on your side, as their aim generally is to pay you as little as possible for your car accident injuries. However, by having a skilled personal injury attorney in your corner, insurers will think twice before presenting you with a lowball offer that doesn’t even start to compensate you fairly for the injuries you suffered.

While we can’t speak to the policies of other personal injury firms, Hensley Legal won’t ask for any money from you until we secure a settlement for you. If we do, we’ll take 33.3% of the final sum to cover our attorney fees and costs. While it usually is not necessary to sue for a car accident, if your case does go to trial, our fees will increase to 40% because of the extra time and effort needed for litigation.

By working with a personal injury law firm, the guesswork and stress will be taken out of the claims process. You generally will only be responsible for showing up to your medical appointments and adhering to your treatment plan. We will even help you find, arrange and manage appointments with medical providers we trust. Hopefully, this can help make your headaches more manageable or eliminate them altogether.

Once your personal injury attorney has a fair car accident settlement offer, it will be up to you whether to accept or deny it. If you deny it, your attorney will head back to the negotiating table to try to secure for you a better offer.

Clients often come to us with the question, “When should I expect my settlement check?” Remember, negotiating a car accident settlement can take time, especially if you are looking to be compensated fairly. Patience during the car accident settlement process is key.

Why Does My Head Hurt After a Car Accident?

Headaches after a car accident can indicate a serious medical issue, like traumatic brain injury, or a more minor issue, like whiplash. Regardless, head pressure after a car accident is not an issue that should be ignored, because even an insignificant injury can become a significant inconvenience over time if not treated promptly and properly.

Headaches Without Head Trauma

Clients often ask us, “What does it mean if I’m experiencing a headache after a car accident, but I didn’t hit my head?”

Direct trauma to the head during a car accident is not the only reason you can experience headaches. For example, headaches from whiplash are common after a car accident, and they generally occur as a result of your head being jolted, not slammed into an object.

Some people experience headaches after a car accident, not because of any injuries but because of the stress of the incident itself.

While it can be tempting to dismiss a headache after a minor car accident, especially if there was no direct trauma to the head, we would not recommend it. There are no downsides to being evaluated by a medical professional, and at the very least, you will have documentation to support your personal injury claim should you ever decide to seek compensatory damages from the other party’s insurer.

Additionally, even though your headache after a car wreck may not have been severe, you may start to experience chronic headaches months after the car accident. While you could still file a claim with the insurance company for compensatory damages, it’s unlikely the resulting car accident settlement would be anything to write home about. If you don’t seek care right away, the insurer will assume your injuries are of little consequence.

Whiplash Headaches

If you are experiencing a headache after being rear ended, chances are you’re experiencing whiplash. You may be wondering: can whiplash cause headaches?

Whiplash is often the culprit behind head and neck pain after a car accident. If your neck, like a whip, jolted forward and back or side to side during your car accident, you likely have a whiplash injury.

Why does whiplash cause headaches if it’s an injury of the neck? The reason is quite simple: the extreme jerking of the head during an accident can cause your cervical facet joints (i.e., the small joints in the back of the vertebrae) to become irritated and inflamed, leading to post-whiplash headaches.

While headaches after whiplash can be minor, they also are one of the leading causes of concussions, which are serious. Likewise, whiplash can cause long-term neurological symptoms. Therefore, if you suspect it, it is essential you seek medical care as soon as possible.

How Long Does a Whiplash Headache Last?

It is impossible for us to provide an estimate about how long your whiplash headache will last, as only a medical professional can assess the severity of your injury.

That said, if you have a low-grade whiplash injury, it’s possible you’ll recover from your post-whiplash headaches within a few days or weeks. If your whiplash injury was more serious, it could take you a few months to recover from your post-whiplash headaches. If your whiplash injuries affect the spine or the area around it, you may suffer bad headaches after a car accident for a prolonged time period.

What Does a Whiplash Headache Feel Like?

If the back of the head hurts after a car accident, or your pain is most pronounced where your head and neck meet, it’s possible you’re experiencing a post-whiplash headache.

While pain at the base of the skull after a car accident is most commonly associated with post-whiplash headaches, whiplash can also cause head and neck pain that extends to the temples and down the neck.

Can whiplash cause headaches and nausea? Can whiplash cause migraine headaches? Can whiplash cause headaches years later? The answer to all of these questions is yes. When your neck or spine is injured as a result of whiplash, it can affect everything from your face and head (which can cause tension headaches and migraines) to your inner ear (which can cause nausea and dizziness).

Whiplash headaches can be dull and constant or sporadic and severe, but they almost always will hinder your ability to do normal tasks, such as typing on a computer or reading. The more you are suffering in your daily life, the higher your headaches after car accident settlement is likely to be.

Headaches From Traumatic Brain Injury

It is not uncommon for headaches after a car accident to be caused by a traumatic brain injury (TBI). TBIs generally are the result of direct trauma to the head (e.g., head hit windshield in a car accident), so if you experienced such trauma, seeking medical care is of utmost importance.

With TBIs, there’s no break in the skull, but there may be tearing, bleeding or bruising of tissue or blood vessels in the brain. In worst-case scenarios, TBIs can cause concussions or subdural hematomas (i.e., bleeding within the skull) — both of which require immediate medical attention.

Even though headaches are the most widely reported symptom of TBIs, they may not immediately appear. Nevertheless, TBIs can be life-threatening, which is why you should not delay being evaluated by a medical professional.

How Long Does a Headache From Traumatic Brain Injury Last?

Similar to whiplash headaches, it’s impossible to predict how long a headache after a car accident from a TBI will last.

With that being said, TBI headaches are rarely a one-and-done occurrence. Some headaches from a TBI could last for a few months; whereas others could last for a year or possibly even life. There is no way to say for sure until you consult with a medical professional.

What Does a Headache From Traumatic Brain Injury Feel Like?

Headaches resulting from a TBI tend to be throbbing, dull and localized to one side of the head. They often appear alongside other symptoms, such as nausea, memory loss, dizziness, confusion, tiredness, blurred or double vision, and light and sound sensitivity.

If you are suffering from tension headaches after a car accident, chronic headaches after a car accident or any other type of serious headaches after a car accident, there’s a possibility they could be from a TBI. These types of headaches should be taken seriously, because if a TBI is left untreated, it could wreak havoc on all areas of your life for years to come.

Fracture Headaches

Because fracture headaches from car accidents generally are caused by one or more of the bones in your neck or head partially or fully breaking, they are difficult to miss. If you suffered a head or neck fracture, you likely were rushed to the hospital from the site of your accident.

Fractures are serious, and depending on their location, they have the potential to lead to paralysis or death. Treating fractures promptly can prevent the worst-case scenarios from becoming a reality.

How Long Does a Fracture Headache Last?

While seeking timely treatment can go a long way in curbing the symptoms of a head or neck fracture, constant headaches after a car accident are common for this type of injury.

How long it takes your headaches to abate will depend on how quickly the fracture repairs itself and on your adherence to your treatment plan. Neck fractures can take anywhere from six weeks to three months or longer to heal. Head fractures can take anywhere from three months to six months or longer to heal.

What Does a Fracture Headache Feel Like?

Fracture headaches almost always are crippling. The pain from them usually is intense and accompanied by other symptoms, such as pain at the site of the injury, nausea, seizures and immobility.

Headaches From Pinched Nerves

When your neck is compressed during a car accident, it can cause a pinched nerve, which can lead to bad headaches after a car accident.

While pinched nerves generally are not life-threatening, and potentially can resolve with self-care measures, chiropractic care or physical therapy may be required for a full and lasting recovery. In severe cases, surgical intervention may be recommended to treat pain from a pinched nerve.

How Long Does a Headache From a Pinched Nerve Last?

Headaches from a pinched nerve generally disappear within a few days, although it’s possible for them to last several weeks or longer.

Unlike some of the other injuries described in this article, it is rare for a pinched nerve to cause a constant headache after a car accident. It is more likely that headaches will be sporadic, and get better or worse depending on your personal habits and adherence to your treatment plan (if you were provided with one). For example, poor posture is known to exacerbate headaches from pinched nerves.

What Does a Headache From a Pinched Nerve Feel Like?

If you are dealing with pain in the back of the head after a car accident that radiates to the forehead, it is possible you are dealing with a headache from a pinched nerve. Shooting pain at the base of the skull after a car accident also can point to a pinched nerve.

Headaches from pinched nerves are often accompanied by numbness or tingling in the areas affected by the nerve, sensations of pins and needles, and low mobility or stiffness in the head and neck.

Muscle Strain or Spasm Headaches

Headaches after car accidents frequently are the result of muscle strains (i.e., pulled muscles) or spasms. These types of injuries occur in the soft tissue of the upper back, neck or head, and generally are not serious.

With that being said, it’s still necessary for your suspected muscle strains and spasms to be checked out by a medical professional in the event they are something more severe or require treatment to resolve. Even seemingly minor strains and spasms can have long-term effects, so ignoring them is not a good idea.

How Long Does a Headache From a Muscle Strain or Spasm Last?

There is no way to say for sure how long your headache from a muscle strain or spasm will last; it depends on the severity of the muscle strain or spasm, and on what you are doing to treat it.

Low-grade strains may heal within a few weeks, whereas more severe strains may require months to heal, and possibly even surgery.

It’s also important to keep in mind that muscle strains and spasms often result in reinjury, or the affected muscle being injured again after healing, which can increase the frequency of headaches after a car accident, as well as your recovery time.

What Does a Headache From a Muscle Strain or Spasm Feel Like?

If you are experiencing tension headaches after a car accident (i.e., headaches that feel like a band around the head and are not localized to one area), they may be from a muscle strain or spasm in the upper back, neck or head.

Headaches from muscle sprains and spasms often are accompanied by swelling, tenderness and a decreased range of motion at the site of the strain or spasm.

FAQs: Headache After a Car Accident

The cause of a headache after a car accident is not always easy to determine, but hopefully, this article has provided you with enough information to help you get the process started of not only seeking the medical care you need, but also the legal representation you need.

Consult our frequently asked questions to discover more useful advice and information.

Is it necessary to seek legal representation or medical care for a headache after a minor car accident?

We cannot stress enough how important it is to be seen by a medical professional after your car accident, even if it was minor. As we’ve discussed, it is impossible to know the extent of your car accident head injuries without being diagnosed.

What may seem like an ordinary migraine could be a concussion, but you may not know that by the type of pain you’re experiencing. Furthermore, by not seeking medical treatment, you could be denied a settlement.

Why do I have a headache after being rear ended?

Headaches are common if you’ve been rear ended in a car accident, since being rear ended can cause your head and neck to experience an extreme and sudden jolt. The most common injury to result from being rear ended is whiplash.

Like other types of headaches, headaches from being rear ended should be evaluated by a medical professional, especially if the accident caused your head to collide with structures inside the car, such as the steering wheel or windshield.

When should I go to the ER for a headache after a car accident?

It can be difficult to know when to go to the ER for a headache after a car accident, especially if you don’t have the medical expertise to know whether you’re dealing with a severe head injury. When in doubt, it’s better to err on the side of caution and make that ER visit.

While headaches could be caused by stress, they also could be caused by serious injuries, such as concussions, which generally require prompt medical treatment. It’s not worth risking your life to save yourself the inconvenience of a hospital visit.

Another benefit of visiting the ER immediately following your accident is that it could bolster your insurance claim. A trip to the ER would indicate to the insurer that your injuries were concerning enough to warrant immediate medical care.

I was in a car accident and my head hurts, but I’m the at-fault driver. Do I have to pay medical costs from my own pocket?

If you are the at-fault driver in an Indiana car accident, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have to pay your medical costs from your own pocket. It just means that you won’t be eligible for a settlement from the other party’s insurance company.

Whether your medical costs will be covered by your auto insurance company will depend on the type of insurance you have. Drivers with liability insurance genera

costs reimbursed by their insurance company, but their health insurer may be able to reimburse them. Drivers with comprehensive coverage, more specifically Medical Payments Coverage, on the other hand, generally can have their medical costs reimbursed.

How do I treat a headache after a car accident?

It is impossible to know how to treat a headache after a car accident without knowing the reason behind your headaches. The only way to know the reason behind your headaches is to consult with a medical professional.

Depending on their severity, headaches from whiplash, pinched nerves or muscle strains and spasms potentially can be resolved with home remedies, such as over-the-counter painkillers and applications of hot and cold packs.

More often, however, headaches after a car accident will require medical intervention, such as chiropractic care or physical therapy. In more severe cases, pharmaceutical treatments, injections to the site of the pain or possibly even surgery may be necessary.

Dealing with a headache after a car accident? Don’t wait to seek help.

Headaches after a car accident can be serious. Not only that, they can continue for months or even years and impact life in a negative way, such as by making it difficult to connect with your spouse or causing you to have to quit your job. As a result, it’s crucial you have a personal injury attorney on your team who can help you navigate your insurance claim to secure for you the settlement you deserve.

Working alongside a skilled attorney can be the difference between being offered a settlement that falls short of covering your medical costs and being offered a settlement that covers your medical costs in full, pain and suffering, and any additional costs you’re likely to encounter in the future as a result of your accident.

We are eager to help you move past your accident so that you can get back to your life. Remember it doesn’t cost you anything up front to work with us. Call us today to schedule your free consultation. We are standing by 24/7 to assist and look forward to speaking with you.