headache after a car accident

Headache After a Collision? Common Causes

If you feel a headache after a car accident, know that it’s common. However, it’s important to understand that it may be a symptom of a deeper injury. Below, we take a look at some of the common causes, the importance of medical care, and what to do to pursue legal compensation if you suffer from a headache after an accident. 

Causes Behind Headaches After Car Accidents

A headache after a car accident is an example of a post-traumatic headache. It results from the trauma of the collision itself. 

In some cases, the headache appears immediately after the accident. But, it’s possible to experience a delayed onset hours or days later. What causes the headache, though? 

Unfortunately, there are many reasons that an accident might cause a headache. Some of the most common examples are direct, physical trauma, including whiplash. Additionally, people who experience chronic headaches, migraines, or other pain in the head and neck, may notice increases in severity, duration, or frequency. 

Finally, headaches can result from pain in the neck radiating into the head. While the root cause varies, it’s always important to seek out a doctor for evaluation and treatment. 

Types of Headaches After Car Accidents

Aside from a migraine, headaches probably seem like they’re all the same. But, headaches can range from an annoyance to a debilitating injury. This is especially true if you don’t treat it or the root cause. 

Below, we explore a few common types of head headaches people experience after a car accident. 


A break or fracture in the skull or neck can cause intense, crippling headaches. Symptoms include nausea, slurring speech, pain in the back of the neck or head, confusion, stiffness, and even seizures. 


Concussions are a symptom of brain injury. When you experience a direct impact to the head or whiplash, it can cause the brain to collide with the inner wall of the skull. Then, the brain swells and bruises, which can cause migraines. 

Concussion symptoms vary but include: 

  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Light and sound sensitivity 
  • Nausea 
  • Ringing in the ears

In severe cases, people can experience memory loss and anxiety as well as problems with sleep. 

Herniated Discs

The force of a collision can compress or herniate the discs in your neck. When this happens, it can cause a headache. Symptoms here include numbness, weakness, tingling, and burning pain. 

Additionally, it can impair the motion of your neck and/or arms. 


Whiplash is one of the most common causes of headaches after a car accident. As mentioned above, the sudden rapid movement of the head and neck causes extreme motions in the soft tissue. Often, this type of headache has a delayed onset felt days or even weeks later. 

Muscle Strains & Spasms

The sudden impact of a motor vehicle accident has the potential to injure the soft tissue in the head, neck, or back. It’s common for these muscles to then strain or spasm. In addition to a headache, you might feel pain in movement, a reduced range of motion, and tenderness, swelling, or redness. 

Pinched Nerves

During a car accident, victims experience a sudden jolt. This may result in the compression of nerve roots in the spine or at the base of the skull. Symptoms of a pinched nerve include pain, tenderness, tingling, numbness, and burning sensations. 

Often, people feel this pain at the base of the skull and running up the back of the head. 

Feeling a Headache After a Car Accident? Here’s What to Do

If you notice pain after a car accident, it’s a potential sign of a deeper issue. Any personal injury lawyer will tell you that it’s important to seek medical treatment after an accident. It’s crucial to identify and treat these issues early. 

1. Evaluation & Treatment

As soon as you are able to after the accident, go to a doctor. Even if you feel fine, it’s important to avoid making statements that deny injury. Unfortunately, pain can have a delayed onset, and insurance companies can use those early claims to deny the compensation you deserve. 

With a timely evaluation and treatment plan, your doctor can identify injuries caused by the accident and catch issues that worsen over time. 

With a comprehensive diagnosis, including feeling a headache after a car accident, you have key evidence to back up any insurance or legal claims. 

Why You Should Never Wait & “Tough It Out”

Without proper treatment, neck and head pain have the potential to lead to further complications and worsening injuries. If you sustain a head or neck injury or experience any pain, it’s a good idea to visit your doctor as soon as possible – if not seek treatment at an emergency room. 

2. Consult an Attorney

Beyond headaches after car accidents, soft tissue injuries are a challenge to prove to insurance companies. However, the reality is that these injuries can be some of the most destabilizing injuries that victims experience. When someone else’s negligence led to the accident, you have the right to pursue compensation. 

With an experienced personal injury lawyer, you have someone to evaluate your losses and help you navigate the legal process. Moreover, they become a liaison between you and medical care providers, insurance companies, and other lawyers. 

Their goal is to pursue the best outcome of your case and seek maximum compensation. But, they also allow you the time and space you need to heal. 

3. Preparing a Claim or Lawsuit

Typically, car accident cases settle out of court. When you hire an attorney, they ensure that your settlement is fair and complete before you accept it. Your settlement should cover the total damages you experience after an accident. 

  • Property damage 
  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of future income
  • Pain and suffering

Ideally, your lawyer negotiates this settlement to cover everything. However, some insurance companies try to lowball their offers or deny claims completely. In these cases, you can file a personal injury lawsuit. 

In Texas, the statute of limitations is two years from the date of the accident. While there are some circumstances that change this, it’s important to decide and act quickly. 

Closing Thoughts

If you experience a headache after a car accident, it’s crucial that you seek medical attention as soon as possible. Then, it’s a good idea to consult an attorney before you speak with the insurance adjusters. While you might feel fine initially, avoid such statements to anyone official, including any responding police officers. 

When you need to hold negligent drivers accountable, your best bet is to work with an experienced attorney who knows how to handle a car accident. Often, personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, meaning you pay nothing unless and until you win.