Although both personal injury and bodily injury are legal terms that can be important in civil cases, they each have a specific meaning in the law. What exactly is the difference between personal injury and bodily injury?
Personal Injury vs. Bodily Injury
The term bodily injury usually refers to specific physical damage that happens to one’s body — for example, broken bones, head injuries or traumatic brain injuries, soft tissue injuries, and more. The term personal injury tends to be more general, encompassing such potential damages as lost wages and pain and suffering.
Additionally, the two terms have some specific legal meaning. The term personal injury refers to a type of civil claim that may be filed when someone suffers damages as a result of another party’s negligence. Often, the term bodily injury is used in an insurance policy, such as to note the necessary coverage you must carry in order to drive. In some cases, your insurance company may differentiate between bodily injury coverage, used for anyone who may be injured as a result of you causing an accident, and personal injury protection, which may help you cover your own expenses if you are in a crash. Lastly, the term bodily injury is also used as a reference in some criminal law cases, such as assault.
The two terms also differ regarding the issue of damages in a civil case. Typically, bodily injuries will require the payment of various medical bills, prescription costs, medical tests, doctors’ bills, and hospital stays. Other types of personal injuries can result in additional damages. For example, if you cannot work as a result of your injury, the wages that you lose as a result can potentially be recovered in court. Furthermore, a jury may award damages for your pain and suffering, mental anguish, or if you are no longer able to enjoy some of the activities you enjoyed in the past as a result of your accident.
Types of Bodily Injury vs. Personal Injury
There are many types of bodily injury that a victim might suffer as a result of someone else’s negligent conduct. For example:
- Concussions, head injuries, or traumatic brain injuries
- Back or spine injuries, and sometimes even paralysis
- Broken bones, abrasions, cuts, or scrapes
- Soft tissue injuries
In addition to the bodily injuries a victim might suffer as a result of someone else’s negligence, there are other types of personal injury damages for which they might be able to recover. For example:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish and emotional suffering
- Damage to your personal property as a result of an accident
- Lost wages, or the loss of future income, as a result of not being able to work after your injuries
- The loss of enjoyment of things you are no longer able to do as a result of your injuries
Keeping a Record of Your Personal Injuries and Bodily Injuries
In a civil case, after you have suffered injuries in an accident, you may bring a claim for both personal injury — which can encompass the bodily injuries you have incurred — along with other types of damages, as noted above. You will want to make sure you are keeping adequate records of the injuries you have sustained, as well as the costs incurred as a result of those injuries. By keeping complete records, you will help your attorney prove the damages in your case.
Consider the following as you think about record-keeping in your personal injury case:
- Keep detailed records of any medical, hospital, or pharmacy documents that describe the extent of your injuries
- Collect and keep safe all invoices and payments made on them, whether this be hospital bills, therapy co-pays, or any other costs you have incurred as a result of the accident
- Save all correspondence that deals with your injuries, whether it be letters from your doctor or notes from an insurance company
- Keep any pictures or video that shows the extent of your personal or bodily injuries
- Obtain any official records that speak to your injuries, such as police reports, accident reconstruction reports, and medical reports
- Keep pay stubs, income statements, or other proof that you have lost wages as a result of your injuries
FVF Can Help
Because personal injury cases are difficult to navigate, we recommend that you consult with an experienced lawyer before you decide how to move forward. Our lawyers at FVF are well-versed in personal injury law and can help you understand your rights, options, and likely outcomes in your case.
We can help explain the differences between personal injury and bodily injury, and to discuss with you how each may play a part in your case. Contact us today to learn more.