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  • Writer's pictureRobert Schuerger II

Bodily Injury vs. Personal Injury – Understanding the Differences

Although it is common to hear both terms after an accident or attack, there's a difference between bodily injury and personal injury.


While one term refers to just a fact, the other describes an entire area of law. It is essential for people planning to file a personal injury claim to understand both definitions and their differences. This will help them make informed decisions about their cases and know what their insurance company may or may not cover.


Here's more information on the legal definitions of "bodily injury" and "personal injury," as well as their implications. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys can also answer questions like what is personal injury fraud?


Understanding What Personal Injury Is

Understanding What Personal Injury Is


Personal injury refers to a legal conclusion or proceeding where a person is harmed by someone else's negligent, reckless, or intentional actions.


The term describes any injury that results in physical, mental, or emotional damage. When used in civil cases, it may also refer to the costs or losses that victims sustain after an accident, attack, or wrongful death.


Legal Aspects


In addition, "personal injury" is a legal principle with many different elements. These are the aspects that often affect these claims:

  • Liability: It addresses who was at fault for the accident or attack that caused the injury and imposes financial liability on the defendant or both parties if they share fault.

  • The burden of proof: The claimant or defendant must prove their allegations in court.

  • The Statute of Limitations: These laws define how long people have to file personal injury claims before it becomes impossible to start legal proceedings for a specific event.


Understanding What Bodily Injury Is


This definition is not as broad as the previous one. Essentially, bodily injury refers to specific physical injuries. Although this term is used to support personal injury cases, which cover the expenses or material losses victims sustain, it's often used in criminal law.


A person who was attacked by someone else or is the victim of assault may have suffered bodily injuries as a result of the responsible parties' misconduct.


The term "bodily injury" also appears prominently in the insurance context, as it's a type of policy that compensates injured parties through the at-fault party's bodily injury liability coverage.


Legal Aspects


In a car accident liability insurance policy, "bodily injury" refers to physical injuries caused to other drivers, passengers, or pedestrians if there's a crash or similar incident. However, this only applies if the insured shares fault for the accident. Also, it doesn't cover other types of damage.


Most car accidents involve property damage, for example. In these cases, bodily injury insurance does not cover monetary losses.


Ideally, a comprehensive car accident insurance policy should have both property damage and bodily injury liability coverage.


Proving Negligence in Personal Injury Claims


Personal injury claims can arise from multiple types of accidents and attacks, including car crashes, dog bites, and medical malpractice.


Victims planning to file personal injury claims against at-fault parties must prove all four elements of negligence to win their cases.


Elements of Negligence


  • Duty: The defendant owed injured people a duty of care. In the event of a car accident, it means drivers had a duty to drive the vehicle safely, for example.

  • Breach: The defendant didn't meet their duty of care.

  • Damages: The defendant's actions harmed a person in a way that money could compensate.

  • Causation: The defendant's negligent or reckless actions caused the harm victims suffered.

However, these elements may vary depending on the type of personal injury filed. Consumer product liability and workplace accident cases are different, for example.


The documents claimants can use to prove that they sustained bodily injuries can also vary. However, the evidence often includes medical records and photos.


Compensation in Personal Injury Cases and Bodily Injury Claims


Compensation for a personal injury claim often includes the following:

  • Medical bills, including treatment, emergency care, and more

  • Lost earnings if claimants are unable to work due to their injuries

  • Estimated future medical expenses if claimants suffer a long-term injury

  • Pain and suffering as long as it's related to the physical injury

  • Occupational disability if injuries prevent claimants from returning to their previous jobs

  • Mental anguish if claimants experience emotional or psychological suffering

  • Loss of enjoyment of life

  • Property damage, such as cars repair or replacement

In many cases, courts will award punitive damages in addition to the components listed above. These damages are not intended to help claimants regain their financial stability after the accident but to punish defendants and discourage them from committing the same negligent actions again.


What Happens If Claimants Win Bodily Injury Settlements?


Sometimes, claimants do not win the full personal injury claim but a bodily injury settlement. This often happens in workers' compensation claims.


The settlement for a bodily injury claim often covers the following:

  • Hospital and ambulance bills

  • Doctor's bills

  • Surgery bills

  • Rehabilitation and physical therapy expenses

  • Lost earnings

  • Future lost earning capacity if claimants suffer a disabling injury

  • Future medical expenses if claimants suffer long-term injuries

Bodily injury settlements often exclude non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering and emotional distress, which often add up to over 50% of the average personal injury settlement.


Bodily Injury vs Personal Injury: Differences


Essentially, bodily injury describes physical injuries, while personal injury is a legal claim that may or may not be physical.


Both terms are important, and a person planning to file a personal injury case should understand both, especially when handling conversations with their insurance company or reading legal documents.


The main difference between bodily injury and personal injury lies in the main definition of each term.


Bodily Injury


As mentioned, bodily injury is any form of physical harm that a person may suffer as a result of an accident or attack, such as the following:

  • Cuts

  • Whiplash

  • Bruises

  • Broken bones

  • Spinal cord injuries

  • Traumatic brain injuries

  • Other severe injuries


Personal Injury


Personal injury, on the other hand, includes any bodily injury but also refers to the mental or emotional harm a person may suffer after an accident or attack. This may include the following:

  • Depression

  • Anxiety

  • Loss of enjoyment of life

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder

  • Other injuries or psychological damages

Both bodily injury and personal injury can be compensated in a personal injury claim. However, there are other differences people should understand.


Differences between Bodily Injury Coverage and Personal Injury Protection Coverage


When it comes to insurance coverage, both terms can also be confusing. However, each refers to a different thing.


Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Insurance Coverage


This type of coverage for personal injuries includes payments for medical and rehabilitation costs or other injury-related expenses, such as loss of income.


In wrongful death cases, personal injury protection (PIP) insurance may also include funeral and burial expenses.


Since it's a no-fault state, Tennessee does not have personal injury protection (PIP) coverage as part of its auto insurance policies. Instead, injured parties should look to their own health insurance company or medical payments coverage to pay their medical bills.


Bodily Injury Insurance Coverage


Contrastingly, bodily injury liability insurance only covers payments for physical injuries that may result from an accident the insureds caused.


In Tennessee, including Nashville, drivers must carry bodily injury liability coverage according to the following limits:

  • $25,000 per injury or accident

  • $25,000 for property damage per incident

  • $50,000 for total injuries or deaths per incident

Drivers who have a car loan or lease may be required by their lenders to have collision and comprehensive coverage.


Why Should People Know These Terms?


People need to know the difference between bodily injury and personal injury if they or a loved one have been involved in an accident that resulted in physical harm.


They are determining factors when pursuing compensation. If they understand both, victims can calculate their economic and non-economic damages to pursue fair financial remuneration after an accident.


Calculating Bodily and Personal Injuries in Insurance Claims


Bodily injuries often result in high medical bills, creating a huge financial burden on accident victims. Unfortunately, medical expenses start to add up as soon as the ambulance arrives on the scene to treat injured people.


If the injuries are severe, bills can continue to grow for months or even years. Many people need rehabilitative care until they are fully recovered. Additionally, in many cases, they lose their income because they cannot return to work. As a result, victims will have huge bills to pay and little or no money to cover these expenses.


In Tennessee, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases is only one year. Since the time victims have to file a claim is limited, they should estimate the long-term medical costs they will likely incur even after the case settles.


Therefore, it's crucial for accident victims to receive guidance from an experienced attorney. A personal injury lawyer can help injured people calculate estimated expenses for injuries and other damages to assign a fair value to their claims.


Should Victims Pursue Bodily Injuries Only?


Victims should take pain and suffering into account when calculating damages and negotiating a settlement. As mentioned, it does not include physical injuries only but the emotional damage that victims may have sustained, such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder.


Pain and suffering caused by physical injuries can add up to 50% of the personal injury claim, so it represents a significant part of the damages victims can recover.


What an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer Can Do for Victims


Personal injury cases are complex and time-consuming. Additionally, when an accident or attack causes physical or emotional harm, victims also deal with pain and suffering, problems at work, and mounting high debts, which makes this unfortunate experience even more difficult.


However, victims can trust personal injury lawyers to handle their cases and get the best possible results.


Collecting compensation for injuries is an important part of the healing process for anyone involved in an accident or harmed by an attack. The difference between bodily injury and personal injury can define how much money claimants will receive as compensation for their economic and non-economic damages and losses.


If they work with a seasoned personal injury lawyer, victims can understand both terms and use them to their advantage to maximize their compensation.


Things an Attorney Can Help Victims With

Things an Attorney Can Help Victims With


In addition, working with a lawyer means claimants will receive assistance throughout the legal process. Attorneys can handle the following tasks:

  • Collect evidence to build a strong case

  • Help victims understand their rights

  • Review police and incident reports to prove the cause of the accident

  • Collect medical records and photographs to prove bodily injuries

  • Interview witnesses to the accident, collecting testimonies and depositions

  • Value each element in a personal injury claim to recover full financial compensation for victims

  • Negotiate with at-fault parties and their insurance company for a maximum payout if the case settles

Additionally, the best personal injury attorney in Nashville can help victims comply with the statute of limitations, considering the state's time restrictions to recover compensation.


While injured people focus on their recovery, attorneys can handle the tedious legal aspects of the case to seek justice, reduce their out-of-pocket expenses, and give them peace of mind.


Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys Can Help Victims Recover Compensation in Personal Injury Cases


Anyone who has been injured in an accident or attack in Nashville, Tennessee, has the right to seek help from an experienced attorney to build a strong case and pursue fair compensation.


When a person is hurt by someone else's actions, the financial impact should not fall on their shoulders. That's unfair. At-fault parties must be held accountable for their negligent or reckless actions.


Fortunately, an experienced personal injury lawyer knows the related laws and will guide victims through the legal process to recover the compensation they deserve and answer questions like what is personal injury?


Call Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys Today!


Victims have the right to recover compensation for both bodily injuries and psychological damage. Therefore, they should work with trusted and experienced attorneys to file a personal injury lawsuit.


A comprehensive personal injury claim can help victims recover compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, property damage, lost wages, emotional anguish, and more.


If you or your loved one need legal assistance to build a solid personal injury case and pursue compensation for your physical and emotional injuries, contact us today!

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