If you are considering filing an insurance claim or civil lawsuit against another person, company, or other entity after an accident left you hurt, you may be overwhelmed by the legal terms that get thrown around. Two that you are likely to run into are “personal injury” and “bodily injury.” While the two may sound similar, they are used differently. You should have an understanding of these differences before attempting to proceed with your recovery efforts.
“Personal injury” refers to a type of civil action (or lawsuit) that an injury victim can file to recover compensation. This compensation is determined, at least in part, by the measure of “bodily injury” that the victim suffered as a result of the harmful conduct. Essentially, bodily injury is a term that is used for calculating how much you could receive in monetary compensation for your personal injury claim.
What is Personal Injury?
The phrase “personal injury” is a legal term that refers to a type of civil action that a person can take to recover damages that they sustained from an injury. To be grounds for a lawsuit, the conduct that caused the injury must have been negligent, reckless, or intentionally harmful. If this conduct was the legal cause of your injuries, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the responsible party. Through your lawsuit, you can recover compensation for the harms you sustained at their hand.
For instance, if you were injured in a car accident caused by another driver who ran a red light, you could file a personal injury claim against that driver to recover damages. These damages can include the cost of medical bills, lost wages while recovering from the injuries, and the pain and suffering that the injuries and subsequent rehabilitation has and will likely cause.
What is Bodily Injury?
Conversely, “bodily injury” does not refer to a type of claim. Instead, it is used within these claims to define the damage that the accident in question caused (and in most cases, the harms for which the victim should be compensated). In legal speak, bodily injury is a category of physical damages that a victim who might have a claim has sustained as a result of the ordeal in question. You can use bodily injury in your civil claim to help estimate the damages that you are owed as a result of the other party’s harmful conduct.
However, civil lawsuits are not the only context where bodily injury is used. Bodily injury is also considered in criminal cases, which are meant to punish the individual or entity responsible for causing the injuries rather than to compensate the victim who suffered the injuries. Perhaps most importantly, bodily injury is also an important term to note when dealing with insurance after an accident. This term is often used to define the scope of damages that a specific insurance policy will cover.
For instance, if you are involved in a car accident, automobile insurance plans will often parse their coverage caps along the lines of the types of damages sustained. In other words, rather than having one large pool of compensation available for the total amount of damages sustained, the insurance policy will cover up to a certain amount of damages for different categories, such as property damage to the vehicle. Bodily injury will be one of these categories.
Calculating Damages for Bodily Injuries in a Personal Injury Lawsuit
All of the money that you are forced to spend or lose out on as a result of your bodily injuries will go into a calculation of what your personal injury claim is worth. This starts from the moment that you sustain your injury and may include a consideration of the costs that are expected to continue even after your claim is resolved.
The cost of your bodily injuries will include the fee for the ambulance ride that you take to the emergency room, the bill from the services rendered at the emergency room, ongoing specialist appointments and therapeutic care, and prescription medication used in your recovery. If you have to make modifications to your home or vehicle to account for incapacities that your injuries have caused, the cost of those modifications will be included in the damages for bodily injury. Even hospital parking will be considered within bodily damage, to be sure to keep detailed records of your receipts and invoices relating to your care.
A personal injury claim, however, contains much more broad calculations of what your injuries have cost you. If your injuries prevent you from working at your job or force you to take time off, you can recover damages for lost wages and missed opportunities for advancement through a personal injury claim. A personal injury lawsuit may also be your only opportunity to pursue compensation for the more personal consequences that your injuries have caused, such as chronic pain and impact on personal relationships.