Dissecting the “Accident Wasn’t Severe Enough” Defense in Brain Injury Cases

A common defense raised in traumatic brain injury (TBI) cases is that the accident wasn’t severe enough to result in a brain injury. This argument attempts to discredit the causation of the injury based on the nature or severity of the accident. Here, we delve into how one can challenge this defense using pointed questions and evidence.

The Fragility of the Brain

The human brain is an incredibly delicate organ. Its consistency is often compared to that of gelatin or Jell-O, making it susceptible to injury even in minor incidents:

  1. Low-Impact Accidents: Historical cases have highlighted that even minor impacts can result in significant damage. For instance, damage can occur to a cadaver’s skull from merely a few feet of a drop, underscoring the brain’s vulnerability1.
  2. Comparative Forces: The force in everyday actions like shaking can lead to severe injuries, such as in shaken baby syndrome. Comparatively, a car accident, even at low speeds, exerts much more force, thus having the potential to cause significant brain injury.

Challenging the Defense’s Assertions

When the defense argues the accident’s lack of severity, they often rely on abstract concepts rather than concrete evidence or metrics. Challenging this involves:

  1. Expertise in Accident Reconstruction: Establishing the credibility and expertise of accident reconstruction specialists is essential. By contrasting the training and knowledge of your experts versus the defense’s experts, you can highlight gaps in the defense’s understanding.
  2. Force Calculations: Probing questions about the specific calculations related to force during the accident can expose a lack of comprehensive analysis by the defense. For instance, asking about the vehicles’ weights, their speeds, or the positioning of the injured party at the time of impact can reveal that the defense hasn’t considered all relevant factors.
  3. Comparative Injuries: If an accident caused other tangible injuries, like broken bones or herniated discs, it stands to reason that the same force could cause brain injury. Given the brain’s fragility, any force that can break a bone or tear fibrous tissue can certainly injure the brain.
  4. Relatability through Tangible Demonstrations: Bringing tangible items to demonstrate a point can be powerful. For instance, presenting a bovine brain to illustrate its consistency can offer a palpable understanding of the brain’s vulnerability, making a significant impact in mediations or trials.


The “not severe enough” defense, while frequently employed, often lacks a solid foundation in the intricate biomechanics of traumatic injuries. By delving into the specifics, attorneys can effectively dismantle this argument, showing that even seemingly minor accidents can, and often do, result in significant brain injuries.

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