Settlement Value of Headaches in Personal Injury Cases


What is the value of head 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 apersonal 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%.

  • mario

    Really hard to believe that is all these cases are worth. Headaches can be just about the worst injury you can get.

  • Ron Miller

    Mario, I agree except we just don’t know how these studies are done. Are many of these “I had a few headaches” after the accident? It is hard to put into context. But, your point is well taken. To get a good verdict in these cases, you need a compelling witness and a lawyer willing to put in the sweat to show the jury what their client has been through.

  • I get pretty frequent headaches, so I know the pain. I also understand when you talk about how you do not know how you feel. I think it does definitely depend on how convincing the person can be about their headaches.

  • Zachary

    I did not know that there is actually a bigger deal when it comes to headaches. Anyhow, since I don’t know much about the law and anything related to it, I just have to agree that headaches are indeed subjective.

  • studyitup

    I only have about $1000 in medical bills and its been 1year since my accident I started seeing my primary care doctor about my severe headaches and I was wondering if I could use those bills towards my settlement claim need answers thanks in advance.

  • john michael mansfield

    I have had migrains and other headachs for years.I recieved this information in mail so here I am filling out this form.

  • stevenfagnant

    I was in a car accident june 10th, 2013 and have been in therapy since then, I just finished all treatment my medical bill are over 15000 and I am ready to settle due to all these bill what should I settle for?

  • Ron Miller

    Steve, I have no idea. If you have 15k in medical bills your case could be worth $5,000 or $5,000,000. Medical bills alone don’t tell us much about case value. Call me if you want more information or send me an email.

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