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What Is the Difference Between Bodily Injury and Personal Injury - morgan and morgan
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What Is the Difference Between Bodily Injury and Personal Injury?

What Is the Difference Between Bodily Injury and Personal Injury?

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What Is the Difference Between Bodily Injury and Personal Injury?

When you’ve been injured by the negligence of someone or a business, it’s a natural reaction to want compensation and justice for their wrongdoing. But when you enter the legal realm which allows you to do this, it can be overwhelming. There is so much research and responsibility that comes with any legal case. And, as of yet, you’re not even sure about the difference between bodily injury vs. personal injury.

The term bodily injury generally refers to injuries a person sustained during the course of criminal activity such as assault. Personal injury generally refers to injuries, whether bodily or psychological, a person sustains through the negligent acts of another party. Personal injury is typically a civil matter. With that being said, let’s take a broader look at these terms so you can better understand how to move forward with a legal claim.

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  • What does the term personal injury mean?

    Personal injury cases are by far the most common types of civil litigation the courts see. These cases have two parties involved which are the plaintiff and the defendant. If you are suing someone that has caused you harm, you are the plaintiff. The harm in a personal injury case can be anything physical, emotional and even includes things like defamation of character. Here are the most common personal injury cases we see:

    • Auto accidents
    • Slip and fall
    • Truck accidents
    • Burn injuries
    • Amusement park accidents
    • Boating accidents
    • Brain injuries
    • Bus accidents
    • Child sex abuse
    • Dog bites
    • Motorcycle accidents
    • Spinal cord injuries
    • Medical malpractice
    • Dangerous drugs
    • Defective products

    Personal injury cases can be filed by anyone who feels another party injured them because of negligence or intentionally caused them harm. In a successful personal injury case, the defendant will have to compensate the plaintiff financially. If the person who was harmed dies because of the defendant’s actions, the family of the deceased can file a wrongful death claim. 

  • What kind of compensation can you be awarded for a personal injury claim?

    Personal injury claims can recover financial awards, which are legally called “damages.” There are two types of damages that can be awarded which are compensatory and punitive. There is a broad array of compensatory damages that are potential. Still, typically it’s boiled down to two categories: general and special compensatory damages. Punitive damages are not common because they are reserved as a unique punishment for the defendant and are awarded to the plaintiff when the courts feel the actions of the defendant were particularly harmful to society.

  • What are the types of general damages in a personal injury claim?

    Every claim is unique, so the damages awarded will vary depending on the circumstances of the case, but general damages can include:

    • Physical pain and suffering
    • Physical disfigurement
    • Physical impairment 
    • Mental distress
    • Reduced quality of life
    • Loss of companionship (specific to wrongful death cases)          
  • How do you put a price on general damages in personal injury cases?

    It’s challenging to put a price on personal injuries such as the loss of a limb or a loved one because the value is subjective, however harsh that sounds. Some insurance companies simply use formulas to develop a figure for general damages and are specific to how serious the injuries are. Nonetheless, our personal injury attorneys are well versed in how to push back when the insurance companies come up with an offer that doesn’t accurately reflect the severity of your case. 

    We look at how similar cases are compensated, and since we’ve represented tens of thousands of clients, we have a pretty good sense of what is fair. If the insurance company doesn’t come back with an appropriate figure, we are prepared to take them to court to fight for your rights. We know that juries often award far higher compensation because the emotional aspects of your case can influence them. In fact, we regularly see awards that are as much as twenty times higher than the pre-trial offer.

  • What are special damages in a personal injury claim? 

    Special damages are financial compensation for things that are easily quantifiable. Usually, it’s straightforward because there is documentation behind these expenses like medical bills, for example. Your out-of-pocket expenses must be defined precisely and should include future expenses that may come about from your injuries, such as physical therapy. Future medical costs and loss of future wages often require expert witnesses to come up with a dollar amount. Special damages may include:

    • Repair or replacement of damaged property
    • Lost wages
    • Loss of future earnings
    • Past and future medical expenses 
    • The costs for care associated with a disability like household chores you can no longer perform
    • Transportation costs
    • Funeral and burial costs for a wrongful death
  • Bodily injury vs. personal injury

    While bodily injury is often referenced in criminal cases, it can also apply in terms of insurance coverage. Bodily injury liability insurance is a type of insurance that covers the other person’s medical bills and lost wages should you be at fault in a car accident. It can also cover legal fees. In the event of fatalities, it can cover funeral and burial expenses on behalf of the at-fault driver. Depending on the state you live in, bodily injury liability insurance coverage may also cover your own medical costs and losses. Most states require motorists to carry bodily injury insurance, but the amount varies from state to state. In some states, you may be able to opt-out of insurance coverage if you’re able to demonstrate you have the capability to pay directly out of your own funds.

  • What is negligence in a personal injury claim?

    Personal injury cases usually have an element of negligence to them, but it’s rarely intentional. Cases like dog bites, auto accidents, slip and falls typically happen because a party was negligent. For example, if a dog owner knows their dog has a history of biting but leaves a gate ajar, and the dog gets out and bites you on your morning run, that would be negligence on the part of the dog’s owner. Another example would be if there were a leaky roof in a grocery store, and the management knew about it. Still, they didn’t cordon off the area where they knew the water would gather after heavy rain. Later, someone slips and falls because of it, which again would be negligence.

  • What is required to prove negligence in a personal injury claim?

    To have a successful claim, you need to produce ample evidence of the other party’s carelessness. Negligence requires four things to be proven in court: duty, breach of duty, causation, and resulting damages.

    Duty - The defendant owed you a legal duty of care. In the case of a medical malpractice claim, the duty of care is much easier to prove because you have, in essence, a contract with your healthcare provider that they will perform their responsibilities towards you with the utmost care. A driver that gets behind the wheel has a duty of care to drive in a manner that will not cause others harm. A business owner has a duty of care to ensure customers are not injured by walking around in their store.

    Breach of duty - Breach of duty is proven if the other party’s actions or inactions are not in line with what another reasonably prudent person’s actions would be under similar circumstances. A reasonably prudent person is a legal standard that essentially means how a regular responsible person would behave. For example, suppose you were hit in the head with a golf ball while driving your golf cart at the golf course. The person that hit you took the swing, knowing you were crossing instead of waiting for you to be out of range. That’s not how an average reasonable person would behave.

    Causation - The third requirement to prove negligence is that the defendant’s actions caused injuries. Suppose someone acts recklessly but doesn’t actually cause injuries to your person or property. In that case, you can’t sue them for it. Furthermore, the defendant must have understood their actions could potentially hurt someone. Suppose someone launches a firecracker into a crowd, and you’re burned because of it. The defendant must have understood that doing such a stupid thing could potentially hurt someone.

    Damages - The last requirement for establishing negligence in a personal injury claim is that the court must be able to lay a dollar amount on the damages. That is usually easy to do when you have medical bills, have lost out on work, lost an important client, or have damaged property.

  • How does a statute of limitations impact a personal injury case?

    All states have statutes of limitations when filing personal injury claims. Typically, the clock starts ticking the moment you are injured or when you discover your injury, as in cases of work-related illnesses such as mesothelioma. Generally, you’ll want to file a claim right away and not wait because some states have statutes of limitations as short as one year. Once the deadline is passed, you have virtually no possibility of being compensated with few exceptions. When in doubt, contact one of our personal injury lawyers.

  • What can a personal injury lawyer do for me?

    Now that we’ve established bodily injury vs. personal injury, you may be ready to move forward with your own claim. Our lawyers are prepared to help. Once we accept your case, we take over everything, so you have more time to recuperate in peace, including placing parties on notice with formal letters of representation. If needed, we hire expert witnesses along with finding all the evidence to support your claim, which may include in-person investigations. Typically this process involves tracking down witnesses, obtaining accident scene photos, reviewing police and medical reports, or investigating the scene where the injury occurred. 

    Once all the evidence is gathered and analyzed, we work with other involved parties to negotiate a favorable settlement. If no agreement can be reached, we prepare for court. In this phase, we handle all court filings and help prepare you for depositions, and of course, we represent you during the trial until a verdict is reached. When you’re struggling with insurance companies or other parties after being injured, we have the expertise and resources to make a positive difference. Because we are so confident in our abilities, we don’t accept any payment until you get a favorable outcome. This is called a contingency agreement, so you don’t have to worry about any upfront costs. Contact us today for your free, no-risk case evaluation.

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Last updated on May 31, 2023

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