When seeking compensation for damages and injuries, you believe resulted from someone else’s fault, legal terms can get confusing. Two of the most confusing terms are bodily injury and personal injury, which are often used as if they were the same thing. They are not even though in some situations they may appear together.
What is Personal Injury?
Personal injury falls under civil law. It is a type of claim under this law jurisdiction that seeks to compensate victims of accidents and other wrongs arising for harm arising from the negligence of another party. It is a type of legal claim. The victim filing the claim is known as the plaintiff, and the person/party against whom the claim is filed is known as the defendant. In a personal injury claim, the plaintiff seeks to show that the defendant’s negligence resulted in their injuries. In case the victim dies, the plaintiff will be someone representing the estate of the deceased.
A significant attribute of personal injury is its scope. It covers traffic accidents, workplace injuries, fraud, malpractice, false arrests, defamation, business places, and forced evictions. Other cases include dog bites, defective products, slips, falls, drowning, and pool injuries. It also covers a broad scope of injuries or harm, including physical, emotional, and reputational damage.
What is Bodily Injury
Bodily injury specifically refers to physical injuries to your body due to someone else’s negligence or actions. You can have bodily injuries in criminal and civil cases, but you will often find people claiming after a traffic accident. It is also often a subject under motor vehicle insurance though it can apply in other areas too. In civil law, bodily injury is, therefore, a subset of personal injury as it refers to one of the damages.
Personal injury compensation
When it comes to personal injury compensation, there are several legal aspects your claim should consider. These include;
1. Statutory limitation
A statutory limitation is a timeframe within which you can file your personal injury claim. Different states have different timeframes, so ensure you know your state’s stipulations and give yourself enough time to gather all the evidence and file the claim.
A critical aspect of personal injury is establishing who is liable. The plaintiff usually states that the defendant holds full responsibility for the damages and all losses arising from the incident. However, it is up to the jury to determine who is liable and to what extent. The jury could also assign some liability to the plaintiff, either wholly or partially. Such a decision could affect your compensation claims, and, in some states, if you are 50 % liable, you are no longer entitled to any compensation.
3. Required evidence of negligence
The plaintiff has to prove negligence on the part of the defendant. It is the only way to prove the defendant is fully liable. Fortunately, the burden of proof in a civil case is lower compared to a criminal case. What you are seeking to prove in court is that the defendant was either reckless or negligent. Elements of proving negligence include
- Showing that the defendant had a responsibility to provide care
- That the defendant failed to meet this duty of care
- That damages are arising as a result of these negligence actions
- That the defendant’s actions are the direct cause of your injuries or losses
Compensation in personal injury cases comes in two categories, economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages cover tangible losses with a price tag, such as medical bills, out-of-pocket expenses, rehabilitation costs, income loss, etc. Non-economic damages are hard to quantify because they do not have a price tag. They include things like pain and emotional suffering.
Bodily injury compensation
Bodily injury covers specific physical injuries sustained from an accident. These include cuts and bruises, disfigurement, diseases, broken bones, and even death arising from the injuries. Bodily injury compensation is common in car accidents. The settlement covers things like;
- Medical expenses
- Physical therapy
- Income/wage loss
- Transportation expenses
- Out of pocket expenses.
Bodily injury liability insurance vs. Personal injury protection insurance
The terms bodily injury and personal injury are also a factor in insurance, and they provide coverage for separate things. Bodily injury cover seeks to meet the victim’s medical and property losses if you are the one at fault. On the other hand, personal injury protection covers your medical expenses and even loss of income regardless of who is at fault. In some policies, it may also cover medical insurance for other victims.
Depending on your state, it may be mandatory to have personal injury protection or bodily injury liability. In fault states, it is compulsory to have bodily injury insurance to pay for victims’ bills should you be in a car accident and be the party at fault. In no-fault states, you must have personal injury protection as all drivers pay for their losses regardless of who is at fault for the accident.
Bodily injury differs from a personal injury in terms of scope and nature, as described above. While you can use it in criminal cases, it is under personal injury claims in civil cases. An experienced personal injury law attorney is an essential asset when filing these claims. At Stambaugh, we can provide the resources you need to collect the evidence and determine the damages you have incurred, including future expenses and thus get the settlement you deserve.