The difference between a bodily injury and a personal injury comes down to specificity. Bodily injuries are a subset of personal injuries. Bodily injury refers to a physical injury, illness, or disease resulting from an accident, while the Legal Information Institute defines personal injury more broadly as injuries to “the body, mind, or emotions.”
After an accident, understanding the difference between bodily injury and personal injury can help you navigate the insurance claim and legal process that follows:
- Falls in a nursing home
- Car accidents
- Cases of domestic violence
- Sexual abuse
- Public health issues
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, almost 180,000 people die each year from unintentional injuries and injuries linked to violence injuries. These incidents are the top cause of death for children older than 1 year and adults up to 44 years of age.
Knowing the difference between bodily injury and personal injury is important, especially when you need to determine liability after an accident where someone is injured and requires costly medical treatment or seeks compensatory damages due to negligence.
Legal Options for Bodily Injury Cases
When someone makes an insurance claim for bodily injury with your insurance company, the cause may be intentional or unintentional. Bodily injury involves physical harm or death to a person, including bruises, wounds, burns, poisoning, broken bones, and nerve damage.
When bodily injury is intentional, it could result from willful physical harm or abuse. Unintentional cases may be the result of neglect toward another person. Some bodily injury happens because of criminal behavior, but the term appears more commonly in most people’s everyday lives as a term related to insurance claims.
Almost every state requires drivers to carry bodily injury liability coverage in their automobile insurance policy to cover other people in an accident. Bodily injury liability coverage involves physical injuries or death that happen because of driving your car. States design their mandatory coverage rules to provide a minimum amount of financial assistance in the event of an accident and often advise drivers to hold policies with much higher payout potential.
Victims of car accidents or family members of someone who died in a car accident can file a claim with the liable driver’s insurance policy to seek compensation for medical expenses and more. Generally, the limits of one’s bodily injury coverage do not prevent a victim from seeking additional compensation beyond that.
Legal Options for Personal Injuries
People carry Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance policies to cover personal expenses for drivers and passengers, including medical bills, but also lost wages and other expenses. Although the system and circumstances will vary for each case, the most common personal injury lawsuit results from automobile accidents.
Certain states have no-fault laws regarding personal injury protection, meaning that the injured person must first seek compensation from their insurance policy after an accident. This requirement does not usually prevent them from pursuing additional damages from at-fault parties in a car accident. Still, it is one way to ensure that financial hardship is not an issue after an accident.
Outside of a car accident, someone suffering from a personal injury may receive compensation from other insurance policies, depending on where the injury occurred. For example, a homeowners’ insurance policy can cover physical injuries that happened in a private residence with personal liability coverage.
Seeking Damages for Personal Injury
The basis for compensation in a personal injury case considers all quantifiable damages after the accident happens. This means a plaintiff could work with a personal injury lawyer to present the facts of the case and their resulting financial losses like medical bills, missed days from work, lost ability to work in the future, funeral costs if filing a wrongful death case as a dependent, and more. It also can account for non-quantifiable damages such as the physical pain and emotional suffering you experience after the accident.
When plaintiffs seek compensatory damages, the goal is usually to remove the financial burden incurred from the accident, not to punish liable parties. However, in cases of malicious intent or excessively wrongful behavior, a plaintiff can pursue punitive damages in a personal injury case. The laws regarding punitive damage limits will vary by state.
Insurance Adjusters Evaluate Claims
After you make a personal injury claim on an insurance policy, an insurance adjuster investigates the facts of the case to help the company negotiate a fair settlement. There may be a significant difference between how an insurance adjuster working for a public entity like a state government handles the investigation process versus an insurance adjuster for a private individual’s insurance policy.
It is up to the insurance adjuster to make an initial offer to settle your claim after an accident, but you have no obligation to accept that first offer. You can appeal one or more of the adjuster’s decisions until you sign paperwork that waives any further appeals for the award paid out to you.
For a free legal consultation, call (800) 223-5115
Work with a Lawyer to Navigate Personal Injury Claims
You should not feel obligated to settle for an insurance adjuster’s initial offer without knowing how the claims process works. You can work with a personal injury lawyer to protect your rights and negotiate on your behalf throughout the insurance adjustment process before or after the claim is made. Call Pintas & Mullins Law Firm at (800) 223-5115 to discuss your case with a team member and learn more about the personal injury claims process.