Have your accident left you with a headache that won't go away? You should never ignore if your headache won't go away after a car accident. A constant headache after a car accident may be a symptom of a more serious injury, including a traumatic brain injury, concussion, or even a closed-head injury. if you have a constant headache after a car accident or other traumatic event, seek medical attention right away. Not only is necessary treatment important, but it's also imperative to have your injuries documented in your medical records. For more information, reach out to a San Antonio traumatic brain injury lawyer.
Headache Won't Go Away After Car Accident?After your accident, you expected to feel some aches and discomfort. Whiplash, back pain, neck pain, muscle strain, and fatigue often accompany even minor injuries sustained in falls or motor vehicle accidents. If your injuries required surgery, you likely suffered through some very painful moments during your recovery. Most people notice their pain subsiding little by little as physical therapy begins to yield results. However, many claimants report one major exception to the rules of recovery. If you are still suffering from persistent headaches that won’t go away in the months after your accident, you may have post-concussion disorder or a related secondary brain condition. Your recovery from your other injuries may allow you to return to work and proceed with your normal life, but your headache and other symptoms make it difficult for you to cope. Persistent migraines, confusion, and irritability may seem minor in light of more serious accident injuries, but they might eventually become your most disabling symptoms.
Settling accident injury claims too early may leave those suffering from the lasting effects of brain trauma without sufficient financial recourse.
Understanding and Categorizing a Traumatic Brain Injury
Concussions and post-traumatic headaches are a form of traumatic brain injury (TBI) that occur when the brain strikes the inside of the skull during a violent motion, such as in a fall, a car accident, or from violent shaking. Your motor vehicle accident may have been so violent that you sustained a concussion even if your head never struck another object. The brain begins swelling from intracranial bleeding, which often causes various symptoms, including headaches, sensory deficits (vision or hearing difficulties), lost balance, confusion, memory loss, and blackouts. Some symptoms abate within a few hours, while others worsen and cause life-threatening complications.Once diagnosed, medical professionals categorize traumatic brain injuries as mild, moderate, or severe based on reported symptoms and test results, including the Glasgow Coma Scale. Initial symptoms generally include:
- Mild - Concussions are the most common form of mild brain trauma, which typically presents with headaches, a few seconds of lost consciousness, dizziness, nausea, slurred speech, sensory difficulties, depression, and sleep changes. Most mild TBIs resolve within one to two weeks with rest and treatment.
- Moderate - More severe concussions and similar brain traumas, including mild Diffuse Axonal Injuries and skull fractures leading to swelling, often result in a few minutes to hours of lost consciousness, mild memory loss, vomiting, lost coordination, persistent and worsening headaches, confusion, temporary coma, personality changes, depression, and anxiety. These symptoms may last for months and result in temporary disabilities. Most victims eventually recover from moderate TBI with treatment, but headaches may persist for years following the trauma.
- Severe - Penetrating brain trauma, elevated falls, and high-speed car accidents may cause life-altering brain trauma or brain death. Severe TBI may cause long-term comas, vegetative states, amnesia, aggression, loss of muscle control, blindness, migraines, continuous seizures, and extreme confusion. Claimants suffering from serious brain trauma may require extensive cognitive rehabilitation or lifetime medical care.
Post-Concussion Syndrome (Persistent Post-Concussive Symptoms)Claimants diagnosed with “mild” TBI, generally concussions, often experience chronic headaches in the days following the injuring event or post-concussion syndrome. The pain may worsen as the brain swells and adrenaline fades. If you continue experiencing headaches after a month, doctors may have underestimated the seriousness of your injury, or you may have post-concussion syndrome. Patients diagnosed with persistent post-concussive symptoms generally present with tension headaches and:
- Sudden migraines
- Head tenderness
- Light and noise sensitivity
- Confusion and sporadic memory loss
- Depression, anxiety, and irritability (short-temper)
- Difficulty concentrating on complex tasks
- Loss of coordination and dizziness
- Sleep difficulties, including insomnia and difficulty waking up
- Blurry vision
- Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
- Changes to taste and smell
How is post-concussion syndrome different from a concussion?For some people, the symptoms of a concussion may last for months or even years. There is no way to know who is most susceptible to post-concussion syndrome, but it is mostly older women who seek treatment for it. Also, it may be more prevalent in those who suffer from anxiety, depression, or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Studies further indicate that claimants who sustained concussions in accidents that also resulted in neck injuries—often whiplash or cervical disc herniations—have a higher risk of developing persistent post-concussive symptoms. Because whiplash and related cervical injuries are the most common injuries sustained in car accidents, claimants injured in motor vehicle collisions should closely monitor themselves for the above symptoms. There’s no cure for post-concussion syndrome, so most doctors focus on treating the symptoms with standard migraine medications. However, traditional clinical tests—such as CT scans and MRIs—do not generally show any persistent injuries. This makes it difficult for claimants with post-concussion syndrome to obtain accident insurance settlements. Adjusters frequently demand clinical evidence of this condition (knowing it’s nearly impossible to obtain) as a prerequisite to providing coverage. These tactics allow insurance doctors to claim you’ve recovered from the trauma while ignoring this clinically recognized post-accident condition. The experienced San Antonio brain injury lawyers at the Wyatt Law Firm see through these insurance tricks and know-how to lawfully prove the existence of post-concussion syndrome.
Post-Traumatic Epilepsy (PTE)Immediately following the initial brain trauma, many claimants with moderate and severe traumatic brain injuries may experience serious seizures. The initial blow to the head may trigger this reaction, and claimants may not experience another seizure after leaving the hospital. However, one in every four patients diagnosed with serious concussions may continue experiencing seizures for months or even years following their anticipated recovery date. Doctors may diagnose these patients with PTE. Like post-concussion syndrome, it’s difficult to obtain clinical evidence of PTE without intensive brain studies that trigger dangerous seizures. Unfortunately, patients struggling with post-traumatic epilepsy cannot operate heavy machinery, drive, or engage in any high-risk recreational activities. PTE even impacts your ability to watch movies and travel. PTE might also cause headaches that won’t go away after falls and car accidents, and this secondary condition could disable claimants from their normal jobs. Claimants from construction industry employees, Uber drivers, and surgeons could all suffer from lost wages and daily frustrations associated with post-traumatic seizures. Dedicated brain injury lawyers might help eligible claimants recover damages for their lost wages, transportation expenses, epilepsy medications, and cognitive rehabilitation if negligent parties caused the initial brain injury.
Brain Bleeding and SwellingMany accident victims with minor concussions misunderstand the severity of their head trauma. Superficial bruising and brief headaches after hitting your head commonly occur without associated brain injuries. As such, claimants may assume they’ve only suffered from external trauma when they’ve really sustained a TBI. Obtaining immediate medical treatment following car accidents or falls involving head trauma is essential to prevent delayed brain injuries caused by intracranial bleeding and associated swelling. In the hours following the initial accident, claimants may experience sudden, sharp headaches or worsening migraines often accompanied by fatigue, confusion, and vomiting. This may mean the brain has started swelling and, as such, compressing oxygen-rich blood vessels. Brain cells begin dying after only five minutes without sufficient oxygen, and delayed treatment may result in oxygen deprivation injuries called hypoxic/anoxic Brain Injuries. These life-threatening conditions require immediate medical intervention and could result in permanent cognitive disabilities.
Second Impact Syndrome (“SSI”)This rare but fatal condition occurs when patients who continue experiencing post-concussion syndrome symptoms, especially headaches that won’t go away, hit their heads again. The second impact causes a sudden, and often fatal, chemical change resulting in death or a severe traumatic brain injury. As such, two consecutive mild concussions may result in devastating brain trauma or brain death. You’re most susceptible to this condition within the first ten days after experiencing a mild concussion due to brain chemical changes during the healing process. However, claimants with persistent post-concussive behavior also have increased risks of developing serious secondary conditions, or second impact syndrome.
Most Common Accidents Leading to Post-Concussion SyndromeExperts speculate that post-concussion syndrome has two main causes: concussions in combination with PTSD-inducing events and concussions paired with physical injuries to the neck and brain structure. As such, many claimants experiencing headaches that won’t go away developed symptoms after the following accidents:
- Car crashes
- High-speed truck accidents
- Motorcycle collisions
- Pedestrian and cyclist impacts
- Nursing home falls (often including abuse and neglect)
- Elevated falls on construction sites
- Horseback riding falls
- Sticking accidents involving baseballs, hockey pucks, and golf clubs
Demanding Damages for Post-Traumatic Headaches after a San Antonio Motor Vehicle AccidentClaimants suffering from accident-related TBI and persistent post-concussion symptoms often mistakenly settle claims too early. Many claimants diagnosed with mild concussion expect to recover within a few weeks and sign waivers for minor accident settlements—generally between $1,500 and $5,000—before they develop secondary conditions. They may slowly realize that their headaches and concussion symptoms didn’t abate as promised, and these symptoms are impacting their ability to work and function during the day. Chronic migraines and PTE may prevent claimants from driving, working, and even living independently. Our San Antonio head injury attorneys have experience obtaining damages for post-concussion syndrome and related conditions. We might appeal insurance denials and fight for your right to complete accident injury compensation in court. Claimants suffering from headaches that won’t go away after hitting their heads due to third-party negligence might demand both economic compensation and pain and suffering awards for their suffering. TBI damages most often include the following:
- Medical Expenses - Claimants may demand payments for past medical costs and future anticipated medical needs, including hospital stays, surgeries, home nursing care, cognitive and physical rehabilitation, medications, household help, doctor’s visits, and medical transportation costs.
- Lost Wages - These economic damages include the value of the claimant’s lost salary, such as compensation for reduced hours and associated lost benefits. You might demand financial settlements for lost 401K contributions, pensions, advancement opportunities, earning capacity, commissions, vacation time, and health insurance payments.
- Pain and Suffering - Also called non-economic damages, claimants with persistent and worsening migraines might obtain financial damages for their physical pain, emotional suffering, frustration, inconvenience, and lost enjoyment of life.
- Loss of Consortium - Both claimants and their spouses might demand additional compensation for any lost physical and emotional companionship directly attributed to the accident injuries and secondary conditions.
- Punitive Awards - In rare cases involving intentional conduct or extremely reckless behaviors like drunk driving and speeding, injured claimants might demand additional punitive (punishment) damages directly from the liable party. This most often occurs when the defendant’s conduct was grossly negligent, willful and wanton, or criminal.
If I have a headache that won’t go away, how do I know if I have post-concussion syndrome?Researching brain injuries following your accident often yields anxiety-inducing results. It’s essential to obtain professional medical help following any event—including car crashes, sports accidents, and falls—during which you hit your head. Most patients completely recover from mild concussions within a few months. However, if you suffered a blow to the head during your accident, especially accidents that also resulted in neck and back trauma, you may struggle with post-concussion syndrome. You may experience the typical symptoms of a concussion, except that they will persist for an inordinately long time beyond the typical duration of the mild TBI symptoms associated with your trauma. In addition to recurring, migraine-like headaches that won’t go away, you may feel the following common post-concussion symptoms:
- Sensitivity to light and sound
- Difficulty concentrating
- Fatigue or insomnia
- Ringing in your ears
- Irritability or anxiety
- Visual disturbances