Headaches after a car accident are common, but they can be concerning. After a car accident, it’s in your best interest to see a doctor. Don’t wait if you can avoid it. It’s best to take the ambulance ride to the hospital and get checked out as a precaution. Many injuries may seem minor but are actually serious. Headaches are one of those injuries that can be dangerous, yet many car accident victims wait days before seeking medical attention.
It’s estimated that more than 13% of the population suffers from some form of headache every year. Some of them happen due to stress, but others are the results of a traumatic event like a car crash. These headaches are classified as primary or secondary. Primary headaches are the types of headaches that many suffer that are treated through conservative treatments like pain relievers or alternative treatments like acupressure. Secondary headaches are more dangerous and need immediate medical treatment. Headaches following a motor vehicle accident are considered secondary headaches.
Do not delay. If you were in a car accident and are having headaches or discomfort in your neck, see a doctor immediately. The headache may be minor, but there is that chance that there’s a serious injury that needs medical treatment before it becomes a life or death situation. If the headache is recurring, seek medical care. If there is tightness, pressure, or tenderness, see a doctor. If you feel nauseous or dizzy, seek medical care. If you feel your mood or cognitive skills have changed, see a doctor. Do not put off a trip to an ER or immediate care clinic.
Do not let fear over the costs of medical care keep you from getting attention. Your own health insurance will cover any bills for now. Auto insurance will reimburse you once the claim is processed. One question you’ll be asked at the hospital or urgent care center is if the injury is related to a car accident. They understand that you may have financial worries, but you can’t let that prevent you from seeking important medical treatments. You can ask a personal injury attorney for advice if you are worried about paying for immediate treatment.
Causes of Headaches Following a Car Accident
What causes headaches immediately after or weeks after a car accident? Several situations can occur. Right after an accident, you have adrenaline and the stress hormone cortisol surging through your body. These take over what you notice when it comes to discomfort throughout your body.
You may not feel pain, pressure, or nausea until the cortisol and adrenaline diminish. Having a medical record of visits to doctors and reports of the medical instructions and treatments you’ve been given is important. If you have to file a lawsuit later, you’ll want these records to help prove you took the appropriate steps to improve your health and recovery from injuries. Proof is everything.
Mild traumatic brain injuries account for up to 90% of all brain injuries. Many of them occur during falls and motor vehicle accidents. Acceleration/deceleration injuries and whiplash are the common mild traumatic brain injuries caused during car crashes. Some of these injuries are hard for a doctor to feel because they’re internal. Unless costly CT scans and MRIs are ordered, they may not be caught during a routine exam. As these scans are expensive, you might find a hospital is hesitant to order one unless you’re experiencing some of the warning signs of a brain injury like severe headaches and loss of consciousness.
Acceleration/deceleration injuries occur when there’s an impact in a motor vehicle crash. When your car is hit, seat belts, headrests, and airbags keep you from moving around too much. While your body may suddenly stop, the brain doesn’t stop moving and ends up bouncing around the inner surfaces of your skull. You can also have injuries where your head hits one of the steel bars within the roof of the car. The metal framing of the windshield may push into your head as the front end crumples. These blows also cause brain injuries.
Whiplash is harder to diagnose, but it’s also incredibly common following a car crash. It’s a different acceleration/deceleration injury. When the impact occurs, the head whips back and forth and injures the bones in the spine, ligaments, nerves, and other tissues found in the neck. You may not notice that you have whiplash until days later. The main symptoms are a stiff neck, neck pain, headaches, numbness/tingling in the arms, and fatigue. Treatments for whiplash range from pain relievers to physical therapy. With time, doctors and therapists help you restore motion in your neck. Headaches from whiplash injuries usually occur within a week of the crash and persist for up to three months.
While not as common, subdural hematomas are also brain injuries received in car crashes. A subdural hematoma occurs when blood collects between the layers in the brain because blood vessels break. The pooling blood presses on the brain. In some cases, there are mild or no symptoms and treatment aren’t needed. If the brain bleeds are causing severe headaches, slurred speech, nausea/vomiting, or loss of consciousness, surgical intervention may be needed. What’s important to know is that these symptoms may not appear for weeks after the car accident. Typically, the headache develops within three days but three months can pass with the headaches still occurring.
How Can a Personal Injury Attorney Help You?
If you’ve been injured in a motor vehicle accident, either yours or the other driver’s insurance company will work with you to come up with a settlement offer. If another driver caused the accident, remember that their insurance company is likely offering the lowest amount they feel is fair given the vehicle damage, medical bills, and personal property damages. It may seem like a fair offer at first glance. As you start shopping for a replacement car, you find that the market’s not great. You’ll have to take out a loan to get a car in the same shape yours was in.
You may find yourself dealing with anxiety attacks. It’s hard to know when a panic attack will hit, and it will greatly impact your ability to work, socialize, or leave your home. It’s hard to put a monetary value on the impact anxiety can have on your life.
Car accident attorneys understand these challenges. They can help you determine if an offer is fair and will cover the financial impact the car accident has on your life. They’ll help you decide if it’s better to refuse the settlement and file a lawsuit. It doesn’t hurt to ask questions of an expert. Your well-being may depend on taking the time to thoroughly look at all the options.
Arrange a free consultation with the car accident attorneys at Carpenter, Zuckerman & Rowley by calling 888-CZR-FIRST or sending a message through live chat. CZR Law is available 24/7 and has a strong reputation as being the law firm other lawyers turn to when a case is too challenging. If we feel you have a case, you don’t pay a penny unless we win.