A mild headache compared to the chronic headache category can mean the difference between anywhere from $7,000 to as much as $1,000,000 or more. As you can see, all headaches are not created equal. Headaches are one of the most popular types of injuries arising from an auto accident but unfortunately, since it is traditionally subjective in nature (more often than not, you have to take the victim’s word for it regarding duration, extent, and severity of the pains) the related damages are usually highly contested by insurance companies. A head injury may be minor or traumatic -- easily perceived, such as bumps or open wounds, or completely invisible to naked eye. Head injuries may be long-lasting or even permanent in nature especially if accompanied by damage to the brain, such as memory loss, cognitive impairments, and emotional and behavioral changes that might significantly impair the victim’s daily routine and overall quality of life. Generally, within two weeks after the accident, the victim can expect to experience post-traumatic headaches from trauma caused by a whiplash injury to the neck. When this occurs, a headache starts in the back of the neck and then radiates to the frontal region.
If the victim has sustained a head injury as part of an accident, at some point he or she will want to consider how much to accept to settle the claim with the at-fault party. Notwithstanding, settlements, and verdicts in headache cases vary depending on the presence of factors that could distinguish a mild headache (four or low five digit settlement) from a traumatic or chronic injury (six to seven digit award). How does an insurance adjuster differentiate a mild headache from the more serious cases? Since the injury can be severe, calculating damages for a head injury settlement can be difficult and is dependent on a variety of factors including whether the head injury is objective, the severity of the property damage and the likelihood of long-term or future permanent injury. Listed below are my top five factors that typically tip the scales in favor or headache injury plaintiffs in connection with personal injury settlements or jury awards:
Brain Injuries: Does the victim have MRI and other brain imaging tests that objectively show that he or she has complicated brain injuries which cause many problems? The existence of objective evidence backed by science dramatically increases the value of the victim’s headache.
Headache accompanied by hearing Loss: If the victim suffers from head trauma in the form of moderate hearing loss and after further treatment, for instance, cochlear implant surgery still has some deficit permanently such as vertigo, headaches, or other related problems, the victim’s headache may be worth in the six to seven digit bracket.
Headache coupled with Severe neck pain: If the impact caused closed head trauma and a concussion that in some cases includes cervical/ neck pain that radiates, sometimes that neck pain may require a cervical fusion which could lead to a big settlement offer.
Cognitive deficits: Sometimes a head injury may result in, headaches, daily seizures and permanent cognitive deficits such as memory loss, dyslexia, and deficits in overall intelligence which considerably increases the settlement value of the case.
Headaches lasting over multiple years: In some cases, a victim may suffer from chronic headaches that just will not go away. This situation is very difficult to prevail in but it has led to big compensatory awards due to the permanent/long term nature of a headache.
Resolving the victim’s claim by way of a voluntary settlement may be more efficient and beneficial to the victim and the defendant because it saves both parties the time and cost of litigation. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to convince an insurance adjuster that the victim’s headache injury is worth more than the average soft tissue injury due to the subjective nature of the injuries. This is most especially true where the brain scan shows a normal brain which happens to be the case more often than not. This usually will lead to a lawsuit where the victim’s fate lies in the hands of a jury’s confidence as to the victim’s veracity and integrity to obtain a favorable outcome.
Needless to say, all headache injuries should be taken seriously. If you have been involved in an auto accident or injured in some other way through no fault of yours and currently experience headaches or other pains from injuries sustained, call today for a free phone consultation.