Bodily injury and personal injury are often used interchangeably, and it’s easy to see why. If something happens to your body, isn’t that personal? If you suffer a personal injury, aren’t the chances very high that the harm will involve at least some part of your body?
While the two terms can be confusing, bodily injury and personal injury have entirely different meanings.
If you or someone you know has suffered an injury, it pays to know the difference between bodily and personal injury for legal and insurance reasons.
What is Bodily Injury?
Bodily injury deals with a particular injury to the body of an individual that was caused by another person.
Bodily Injury and the Law
You will almost always hear bodily injury referred to when discussing motor vehicle insurance coverage for injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident. Bodily injury liability policies are designed to compensate an injured driver, passengers, or pedestrians if they sustained injuries that resulted from the insured individual’s negligent conduct.
Compensation for Bodily Injuries
When you suffer a bodily injury, you may be entitled under the law to receive compensation for lost wages, lost earning capacity, out-of-pocket expenditures for medical treatment, and medical expenses, such as x-rays, physical therapy, and transport to the hospital.
It is also possible to receive compensation for future expenses and losses, which can arise when a person has injuries so severe that the injuries are likely to impact his or her life negatively for months or years in the future. Future losses include future loss of income, disfigurement, future therapy, impairment, and future pain and suffering.
What is a Personal Injury?
Personal injury is a term used in civil law. A personal injury claim is meant to compensate victims of accidents and intentional acts (e.g. sexual assault). The plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit is the individual who was injured.
If an accident resulted in the death of a victim, the plaintiff(s) in the case are the family survivors, such as the spouse and children. The defendant is the person whose negligence caused the injury or loss to the victim. There can also be a cross-defendant in the case, which is when the defendant asserts blame to another party.
What Injuries are Considered Personal Injuries?
Personal injury refers to an injury of the body, mind, or emotions.
Here are the most common types of personal injury claims.
Car Accident Claims
Car accidents comprise the most personal injury cases in the U.S. When a collision occurs involving automobiles and/or pedestrians, usually it is because someone isn’t following the rules of the road. A careless driver can be held financially responsible for injuries sustained in a car accident.
Slips and Fall Claims
People slipping and falling make up another common type of personal injury case. Property and business owners (and lessees) have a legal duty to keep their premises safe and free of hazards to prevent injury. If someone slips and falls and an injury results, the other party can be sued in civil court.
Dog Bite Claims
In civil dog bite cases, dog owners can be deemed financially responsible for bites and other injuries caused by their dog. In California, the owner of the dog is responsible for their dog attacking someone. There is no need to prove negligence.
Assault & Battery
Assault and Battery is a unique type of personal injury, as it is considered an intentional tort. That is, the injuries sustained were not based on accidents through the negligence or carelessness of someone else. Rather, the injuries occurred because another person harmed the victim on purpose. The perpetrator can be tried in civil and criminal court, in some cases. An example would be if one person physically attacked another, which would bring criminal charges. The victim could then also file a personal injury lawsuit in civil court to demand compensation for damages incurred as a result of the attack.
What Injuries are Considered Bodily injuries?
Bodily injury refers directly to physical damage to an individual’s body, such as a cut, bruise, abrasion, burn, or disfigurement. Bodily injury can also involve physical pain, illness, impairment of the function of the body, organs, or mental faculties, and temporary injuries to the body. It also includes death if the individual passed on because of the bodily injury. Death that resulted from unexplained causes typically do not qualify.
Many commercial liability insurance policies use the words “bodily injury.” You most often hear the term discussed in policies involving commercial auto, general liability, and umbrella policies.
Some insurance policies also refer to mental anguish as a result of bodily injury. When used in this context, the term can mean shock, mental injury, fright, and humiliation. Psychological injuries are usually only included if they caused by a physical injury.
Does bodily injury include death?
Death can be included with bodily injury policies if the death resulted from the injury in question. Bodily injury can include physical injuries, but it can also include illness and disease. If the injury caused bodily injury, sickness, or disease that then resulted in death, that would qualify for compensation according to the policy. Death that results from unexplained causes would not quality in most cases.
How Can a Personal Injury Lawyer Help Me?
If you have suffered an injury that was the result of someone else’s actions, or that person failed to take the necessary precautions to prevent your injury, then you may be able to take legal action to recover the damages you incurred.
You could file a personal injury claim yourself, but there are several excellent reasons why you should hire a personal injury lawyer to represent you.
A personal injury lawyer has likely worked with a client just like you who has suffered your type of injury. There will be no learning curve, and you can ensure that all paperwork and processes will be filed in the proper order. Most of all, an experienced attorney can inform you about what to expect as the case proceeds, and what kind of settlement you can reasonably expect.
Any aspect of law can be confusing, but a personal injury claim definitely has its complexities. Legal procedures can be very complicated and difficult to comprehend without an attorney acting as your advocate. You might have to face confusing medical terms and paperwork that never seems to end. An experienced personal injury lawyer will do what is required to resolve your claim while keeping you educated and informed about your case every step of the way.
Filing a claim on your own might require you to deal with the other party’s attorney or insurance representatives. A personal injury lawyer is experienced at dealing with other attorneys and the insurance companies and can fact-find and exchange documents on your behalf. Most of all, your attorney will be just as motivated as you to resolve your claim quickly and efficiently, either through an out-of-court settlement or judgment in your favor, as the lawyer does not get paid until funds are paid by the other side.
Why Would a Personal Injury Lawyer NOT Take Your Case?
Just because you are injured doesn’t mean that you have a personal injury case on your hands.
Here are the most common reasons why your case may be denied by a personal injury lawyer.
No Evidence of Negligence or Carelessness
A personal injury attorney is going to first determine how the accident happened. To hold someone financially accountable, the other party would have had to breach a legal duty that caused the injury. In other words, they did something wrong that caused the victim to become injured.
Just because the accident happens on someone’s property, even if the injuries are severe, it doesn’t necessarily mean the injured person has a valid claim for personal injury damages.
Not Serious Enough
A personal injury attorney will generally only take a case if you were seriously injured as a result of someone’s carelessness or negligence. The keywords here are “seriously injured.” Minor injuries, even if you plan to sue on principle, might not be worth the time spent pursuing the case.
Most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis. This means that you don’t pay anything upfront for the lawyer’s time. The attorney spends time pursuing your case, speaking to other attorneys and insurance adjusters, and works to settle your claim. If the case goes to court, your attorney stands beside you and fights for your rights to adequate compensation.
Your attorney will only get paid if you win a settlement or judgment.
Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer or Handle Your Own Claim?
It may seem like the quicker and cheaper route to pursue a personal injury claim on your own but beware of all of the complications you are about to face. You will have to do your own research and file your own paperwork. You are going to have to speak to the other person’s attorney and negotiate settlement amounts, or you might have to battle things out in court.
Before you know it, what seemed like a simple matter has you up to your neck in litigation paperwork and more obstacles than you know what to do with.
The better move is to hire an experienced personal injury attorney to represent you in your case.
How Long Until I Receive a Judgment or Settlement?
The time between speaking to an attorney and receiving a personal injury settlement can vary. It all depends on the factors of the case, the type of accident, and the injuries that were sustained.
Once a settlement or judgment is reached, you should receive the compensation you are due within 14 to 28 days, but these times can also vary depending on the jurisdiction and whether the other side appeals the judgment.
Get a Personal Injury Lawyer to Fight for Your Rights
Now that you know the difference between bodily injury and personal injury, and that you are much better off hiring a lawyer than taking the DIY approach, you deserve the best.
For accidents that occurred in and around Orange, California, call personal injury attorney Moses Yneges at The Accident Injury Law Center. Mr. Yneges and the legal team at TAILC will work diligently for you to pursue your case and earn you maximum compensation for the injuries you sustained. Call now for a free and private consultation.