What Is the Difference Between a Personal Injury vs Bodily Injury?
After an accident, you may understandably be focused more on the pain and discomfort that resulted than the specific events that led to the incident. However, you must dive into specifics when recovering damages from your medical bills, lost wages, damage to personal property and pain and suffering. Are your pain and discomfort the result of a personal injury or bodily injury? Differentiating between the two is the first step in determining which legal advocate is better suited for your case.
The biggest difference between the two injury types is bodily injury deals with a specific injury to the body because of another’s negligence, such as in a car accident. Personal injury involves an element of negligence but also pertains to any type of injury. No matter the injury type, consulting with a knowledgeable legal representative in your area is essential to protecting your rights. You should not have to pay for another’s mistakes.
What Is a Personal Injury?
Personal injuries include victims of defamation of character and other social wrongs and accidents. Examples of such accidents include slip-and-fall, wrongful death and defective products. Personal injuries often involve a defendant, the party deemed at-fault, and a plaintiff, either the injured individual or the deceased’s estate representative.
Statute of Limitations
As with most legal matters, a personal injury has a statute of limitations. This is the amount of time an injured individual has to sue the person responsible for the incident. For instance, in Nevada, a person has two years from the time of the accident to take legal action. Once those two years pass, the affected party may no longer have the right to sue.
Burden of Proof
Because this specific legal matter involves civil law, it has a lower burden of proof when compared to criminal cases. Rather than sending the defendant to prison, the aim is to get compensation for the injured party. To satisfy the burden of proof requirement, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant either acted with negligence or did not act within the realm of reason.
In some personal injury cases, a jury determines that the plaintiff bears liability for the outcome of events. In select states, there exists a rule called “modified comparative negligence.” This means that the victim’s specific percentage of liability in an accident or injury reduces the total compensation amount. For example, an injured party bearing 30% of liability recovers only 70% of the total damages. If damages total $100,000, then the plaintiff only receives $70,000. If the plaintiff holds more than 50% of liability in a personal injury case, then that person no longer has a claim to any amount of damages.
A person may sustain a personal injury under the care of negligent nursing home staff, on an inattentive homeowner’s poorly maintained property or under a neglectful physician’s inadequate care. Rather than harming a person intentionally, personal injury defendants generally display carelessness or disregard.
An injured party must prove several elements of negligence in a personal injury case:
- That the at-fault person’s decisions resulted in damages
- That the responsible party owed the injured party a duty of care
- That the defendant’s decisions directly led to injuries or losses
- That the at-fault party failed in meeting the owed duty of care
Duties of care vary under various circumstances, but people have an obligation to do everything they can to avoid harming others. Business owners have a responsibility to keep customers safe by clearing floors of spills and debris. Physicians have a professional responsibility to run proper tests and exams to accurately diagnose their patients as quickly as possible.
Damages for personal injuries include economic and non-economic. Economic damages range from lost wages and medical costs to rehabilitation and out-of-pocket expenses.
Pain and suffering is an example of a non-economic cost, which is difficult to accurately value. Monetary limits on non-economic damages depend on the specific case. For instance, a state may have a cap on damages for medical malpractice claims but none on auto accident claims.
What Is a Bodily Injury?
Bodily injury involves specific injuries caused by another, usually in criminal cases rather than civil. Examples of specific injuries include cuts, bruises, nerve damage and broken bones. This degree of injury also applies to insurance claims.
Usually, motor vehicle accidents involve bodily injury. Insurance claims with bodily injury liability coverage compensate passengers, pedestrians and other drivers when the policyholder is the at-fault party. Such harm differs from property damage liability.
Not every state requires drivers to carry bodily injury insurance coverage. Motorists in Florida do not have to have such coverage if they do not drive a registered taxi. Florida is also a no-fault state, so every driver must have at least $10,000 in personal injury protection coverage. That way, no matter which party bears responsibility for an accident, all drivers must first go through their own insurance provider to file for damages. Even then, one driver may not have enough coverage for the full extent of their sustained damages, giving the person no choice but to pursue additional damages through the other party’s policy.
Specific damages for bodily injury include lost wages, out-of-pocket costs, medical bills, lost earning capacity, cost of therapy and medical treatment procedures. Compensation for pain and suffering is not off the table in bodily injury cases, but it is often reserved only for physical injuries.
Some cases involve injuries so severe that a person may endure partial or total disability for years to come, possibly for the rest of that individual’s life. Such cases allow for future losses and expenses damages, which include future therapy, disfigurement, future lost income and impairment.
Work With an Experienced Local Lawyer
Do you have a better idea of which injury type you suffered? No matter how strong of a case you think that you have, work with a reputable legal representative to improve your chances of receiving every penny you deserve. Submit a request online or call us today at (866) 345-6784 to get in touch with an experienced lawyer in your area!