Post-Traumatic Headaches: Concussion Claims 2.0

Headaches are a common complaint in many lawsuits with post-concussion syndrome claims. Experts or treating doctors often diagnose headaches just as a broad symptom rather than a specific diagnosis. But, “headaches” are a large umbrella category for over 200 subtypes of head pain.

One frequently diagnosed headache, following an alleged concussion, is “post-traumatic headache” (“PTH”). Many experts will diagnose PTH based solely on the fact that the plaintiff developed headaches after a concussion. From a litigation perspective, PTH has greater value than other types of headache like headaches due to overusing painkillers or whiplash. However, it is rare that, when challenged, an expert can provide the actual diagnostic criteria for PTH, much less explain how plaintiff actually meets the criteria for PTH. Often the plaintiff’s symptoms could implicate numerous potential subtypes of headaches and the expert has not actually performed a differential diagnosis to determine which headache is the most appropriate diagnosis.

When evaluating or defending cases involving alleged PTH, it is essential to challenge experts who attribute headaches to a particular cause or claim a specific headache diagnosis. A technical cross-examination of the diagnostic criteria for the type of headache or underlying methodology the expert used to attribute the plaintiff’s headaches to an injury can help narrow the issues and potentially provide early credibility blows.