Did you know that there are 62 million injuries in the United States every year? These are related to myriad situations, from motor vehicles and work injuries to accidents in your home or community.
Unfortunately, many of these are the result of neglect or wrongdoing on the part of an individual or company. These situations require seeking compensation through our legal system.
When it comes to civil litigation, you may be wondering about bodily injury vs personal injury claims. A lot of people use these terms interchangeably, but they describe distinct circumstances.
Understanding the differences between the two types of legal claims will give you a better idea of which one applies to your situation. Keep reading to find out what they are.
What Is Bodily Injury vs Personal Injury?
“Personal injury” refers to any situation where someone experiences harm. This can include physical harm, but also mental or emotional damage. “Bodily injury” refers to physical injury to a person.
To further explain the differences between bodily injury and personal injury, it is worth looking at examples of each. Bodily injury involves cuts, bruises, broken bones, spinal cord injuries, brain damage, or any other serious injuries to the body.
Personal injury comprises bodily injuries and any psychological and emotional trauma. This includes things like anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. The latter is sometimes categorized as “pain and suffering.”
Personal injury also can involve economic harm. This can be related to loss of wages, salary, or earning potential.
Legal Aspects of Bodily Injury vs Personal Injury
There are several components to every personal injury claim. For the case to be successful, you must prove all these “elements.”
The first is that you must show that the accused party had a duty of care to you. This can could be the duty to produce safe products or provide competent medical care.
This may seem pretty straightforward, but it can be a difficult concept in some circumstances. For instance, there is an implicit duty of motorists to provide a safe environment on the roads for others by not driving recklessly.
Next, you must show that there was a breach of the duty. For instance, a company fails to warn about the dangers of using products in a particular way or a doctor does not provide the right medical care.
The third aspect of a personal injury case is proving damages–that the breach of the defendant harmed you in some way. Very closely related is the fourth aspect of a claim: causation. You can prove all three other elements but still lose if you cannot show that the breach caused you harm.
Settlements and Judgements
A settlement is an agreement reached by both sides in a personal injury lawsuit. This is regarding the amount of compensation (“damages”) that are to be paid to the harmed party.
While these most often happen prior to trial (before dedicating time, effort, and expenses), they can occur at any time. This includes in the middle of a trial, often when one side presents evidence that encourages the other side to concede.
A “verdict” or “judgment” is when a case goes to trial. After all witnesses and evidence arrive, a jury and/or judge will determine if the defendant is liable. And, if so, how much they should pay in damages.
The important thing to note about settlements in personal injury cases. They can only award settlements for certain aspects of the suit. Including bodily injury, but not awarded for others. For instance, you might have strong evidence to prove bodily injury but fail to demonstrate how the breach of duty caused “pain and suffering.”
Bodily Injury Damages
Part of the reason it is important to distinguish between bodily and personal injury is in calculating “damages.” This is the dollar amount associated with the harm that has been done directly to the injured party or has resulted from the neglect or wrongdoing of a third party.
Proving damages is done through expert witnesses and testimony (if your case does not “settle” and goes to trial). This is where you really begin to lean on the legal expertise of an experienced personal injury attorney.
In general, bodily injury damages can be more easily calculated than personal injury damages. That is because you can look at hospital and rehabilitation bills to get a specific dollar amount.
It may be more difficult if some situations. For instance, if your rehabilitation is ongoing or indefinite, it might be tougher to calculate damages. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you determine an appropriate total for the claim.
Some aspects of estimating different personal injury claims can be pretty straightforward, while others are more complex. For instance, a legal expert can help you tally loss of wages, salary, and earning potential due to your injuries.
Things like emotional trauma or not being able to work or particulate in activities with your family or friends can be more difficult. That is because it is hard to ascribe a monetary value to these losses.
Insurance Protections for Bodily and Personal Injury
There is one final area where the terms “bodily injury” and “personal injury” become confused, and it does not have to do with the legal process per se. This is regarding different automotive insurance plans.
Every state requires liability insurance coverage for every licensed driver. This usually covers “bodily injury” of other drivers, in addition to any property damage.
Not all states require “personal injury protection” (PIP) coverage. These plans cover damages other than bodily harm that fall under personal injury lawsuits, like loss of income or pain and suffering. Both of these policies can be useful but cover very distinct circumstances.
Find a Civil Action Injury Lawyer Near You
Now that you understand the distinction between bodily injury vs personal injury, you can have a better understanding of which––or if both––apply to your case. A qualified personal injury attorney can further advise you on each step of the process.
RHINO Lawyers have the knowledge and experience to help you navigate the complexities of our legal system. We will work hard to ensure you get the compensation you deserve. Go online to get a free case analysis or contact us directly today to set up a free virtual or in-person consultation.
CONTACT A TAMPA AUTO ACCIDENT ATTORNEY
In short, after a car accident, you may not know your rights. Above all, don’t struggle through the process alone. Actually, our personal injury team is here to help you with any legal needs you might have regarding your accident.
Lastly, let RHINO Lawyers answer your questions and review the facts of your case with a Free Consultation. So, get started by completing the “Free Instant Case Evaluation” or by calling us any time, day or night, at 844.RHINO.77.