Imagine this scene: You’ve been involved in a car accident and your arm has been broken. The driver of the other vehicle is at fault. Is this a bodily injury or personal injury?
What if a pedestrian who witnessed the accident is claiming to have been so emotionally traumatized that they were were forced to miss work that day, for which they consequently suffered lost wages.
More than that, they’ve since been experiencing loss of sleep and have incurred medical bills.
Is that a bodily injury or personal injury?
Read on to find out. Before you reach the end, you should have enough information to have it already figured out.
Bodily Injury vs Personal Injury
The two terms are often used as one, though in a legal context they’re not the same.
Bodily injury refers to an injury of the body and costs incurred as a direct result of those injuries. Personal injury compensation covers victims of accidents as well as those maligned by defamation of character and slander.
Personal injury is part of civil law, whereas bodily injury is most often the result of criminal activity and therefore falls under criminal law.
In a landmark 1992 suit, Stella Liebeck received personal injury compensation from a well-known fast food chain after burning herself on a cup of hot coffee.
A personal injury involves an injury that is the result of negligence on the part of another person or entity. These are unintentional accidents arising out of a lack of care and proper attention.
Malpractice suits often involve a personal injury claim. Other situations that might inspire personal injury suits are slips and falls resulting from liquid spills not being properly cleaned up, harm from poor care in a nursing home or care center, or an injury as a result of a product defect, or from not following protocols around a construction site.
Damages awarded in personal injury cases are divided into economic and non-economic forms of compensation.
Economic compensation refers to financial losses that without the accident the plaintiff would not have incurred. This could include lost wages, medical expenses and other associated costs.
Unlike a bodily injury, a personal injury claim may also include damages for emotional or psychological distress. This personal service compensation is referred to as non-economic. Some states put a limit on these types of compensation as they are necessarily harder to calculate.
Bodily injury most often shows up in criminal cases such as assault, robbery, and battery.
The other area we see a lot of bodily injury claims is in auto accidents. In these circumstances, the defendant’s insurance will provide coverage in the event of injury to others.
Coverage in these instances will extend beyond just the injury to include associated costs such as loss of wages and medical bills.
Personal Injury Specialists
So far as our opening scene is concerned, both types of claim are potentially present.
The bodily injury to the arm will be covered by the defendant’s insurance, while the claim by the pedestrian will be taken up by whichever party is considered liable.
Most likely this will be the driver considered at fault in the accident.
The personal injury claim by the pedestrian is less common. If this were a real situation, the pedestrian would be best advised to contact an experienced personal injury attorney who specializes in this area.
If you have other questions about what constitutes a personal or bodily injury, let us know in the comments section.