What You Need to Know About Bodily Injury vs Personal Injury

Navigating insurance claims can get complicated. Here is everything you need to know about bodily injury vs personal injury.

Bodily injury refers to a physical injury to one’s body, such as bruises, burns, cuts, and fractured bones. It is often referenced in criminal court cases. Personal injury refers to an injury that occurred in an accident. This injury could include physical, mental, or emotional damage. It is usually referenced in civil court cases.

Some people also confuse personal injury protection (PIP) and bodily injury liability coverage. PIP insurance coverage includes payment for injury-related medical and rehabilitation expenses, loss of income, and funeral and burial expenses. Bodily injury liability coverage includes payment for any physical injuries that occur in an accident caused by an individual. Depending on where an individual lives – whether their state is a “fault” or “no-fault” state – will determine the extent of what kind of insurance they need to carry on in the event of an accident. For example, Florida drivers are not required to have insurance for bodily injury liability to drive. However, they are a no-fault car insurance state, so all drivers must have insurance policies with a minimum of $10,000 in PIP coverage.

Bodily Injury

The term “bodily injury” often arises in insurance in the context of motor vehicle insurance, but does not refer to any specific legal claim. It can be used in criminal cases (like aggravated assault, for example), or an aspect of insurance policies or claims. In an accident resulting in a bodily injury, bodily injury liability insurance will cover any physical injuries of the party that is not at fault for the accident.

After an accident, drivers will first file for damages through their own insurance company, regardless of who caused the accident. If the party who caused the accident has bodily injury liability coverage, then their insurance will cover the other party’s physical injuries. The other party may also file a bodily injury claim. A bodily injury claim will include any expenses for an injury that the hurt party would like to submit to the bodily injury insurance carrier. These claims can be covered by PIP insurance or other coverage.

Personal Injury

In an accident resulting in personal injury, PIP insurance will cover injury-related medical and rehabilitation expenses, loss of income, and funeral and burial expenses.

In a personal injury civil case, the plaintiff (the person seeking compensation through the court) is the person who was injured. The defendant is the person whom the case is being brought against, and is the person who allegedly caused the personal injury. The burden of proof for compensation in these cases is fairly low, and the plaintiff will only need to prove that the defendant acted negligently.

Related: California Pure Comparative Negligence

Drivers who cause an accident might have additional costs that go beyond what PIP is able to cover. Having PIP does not prevent drivers from paying additional losses through the other party’s insurance; it only lessens the cost that would normally be paid in an accident. PIP mostly covers an individual’s own injuries and losses after an accident.

There is a limited window of time following an accident to file a personal injury claim. The statute of limitations differs from state to state, with the most common time period being 3 years. California has a two-year statute of limitations for personal injury.

A personal injury case can also arise from the negligence of another party if that negligent act caused a separate party to be injured or ill and there are demonstrable damages.

Related: Benefits of Settling a Personal Injury Case

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