Settlement Value of Headaches in Personal Injury Cases
I'm fortunate in that I don't get many headaches, a blessing I attribute to good hydration and genetic good fortune. On the rare occasion that I do get them, they are debilitating. It is really hard to enjoy much of anything in life with anything north of a mild headache.
Juries struggle in figuring out how to value personal injury cases when the primary injury is a head injury that caused, and may be continuing to cause, headaches.
Why? Because headaches are largely subjective. So the credibility of the plaintiff - which is usually 90% of the game at trial - becomes the entire game because you can't know the pain level inside someone's head. Instead, you have to decide if you believe that their report of pain is what they say it is.
According to Jury Verdict Research, the average verdict for headache injuries is $33,423. The median verdict is $11,092. Putting this in context, the average award in a personal injury case nationally is approximately $791,756. So verdicts in headache cases are 5% of the national average? Wow.
Juries are more inclined to believe older people... or they think young people should just deal with it. The median award for those under 18 was a $7,463. For plaintiffs between 19 and 39, the median award was $8,858. Once you get over 60, the awards rise to $13,454.
Verdicts in headache cases can exceed a million dollars. What do those cases have that the average case does not? Those cases usually have three components: (1) an objective head injury, (2) serious property damage, and (3) the testimony of a doctor who believe that (a) the headaches were cause by the accident, and (b) there is no expectation that the plaintiff will get relief from the headaches in the future. I'm not saying that without these the plaintiff is not seriously injured. But being seriously injured and getting a jury verdict commensurate with those injuries is two different things.
Interestingly, a full 42% of the car accident headache injuries in the study were rear end accidents. Intersection collisions made up 21% and turning collisions made up another 11%.