What Is The Difference Between Bodily Injury And Personal Injury?
Bodily injury and personal injury do not mean the same in legal terms, though people commonly use them interchangeably. If you sustain injuries in an accident, you may think insurance covers personal injuries. In reality, even when the term “personal injury” is used in most types of insurance, it usually refers to bodily injury. Understanding the difference between the two is critical when pursuing compensation for injuries sustained in an accident.
Bodily Injury vs. Personal Injury in Insurance Claims
When you suffer injuries from a traffic or slip-and-fall accident, the first step in pursuing compensation is to file an insurance claim. What company you file a claim with depends on your accident type and, for traffic accidents, what state you live in.
Slip-and-fall accidents can occur anywhere. If you have an accident on your own property, your injuries are covered under your health insurance, and they don’t usually become a legal matter. However, if you slip or fall on a third party’s property or at work and sustain injuries from the accident, you may be able to file an insurance claim with the other party’s insurance.
Slip-and-fall accidents on another party’s property typically fall under premises liability claims. However, to file a claim, you must demonstrate that the property owner, resident or manager was at fault in the accident. Your injuries must also be serious enough to incur economic costs.
If you sustain injuries that meet these criteria, you file a claim with the third party’s property insurance company under its liability coverage. Property insurance liability coverage for injuries refers to bodily injuries, or physical harm to your body. Generally, you see the term “bodily injury liability” in property insurance policies.
The insurance covers economic damages such as medical expenses, wage loss and sometimes death benefits. In other words, you can essentially tally up the monetary costs that resulted from the physical injuries to your body.
If you slip, trip or fall at work and sustain injuries, you usually file a claim with your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance provider. Every state has workers’ compensation laws requiring most employers to carry insurance for their employees.
In most cases, workers injured on the job can file a claim, no matter who is at fault. Often, there are exceptions, such as if the worker was intoxicated when the accident occurred. In return, the employee cannot sue the employer.
Workers’ compensation claims cover the damages for bodily injuries. They generally pay a portion of lost wages and medical and rehabilitation expenses, similar to bodily injury liability coverage. State laws vary in the specific coverages and limits they require.
When motorists, cyclists or pedestrians sustain injuries in a traffic accident, they usually file a claim with a car insurance company. However, there are differences between at-fault and no-fault car insurance states.
At-Fault Car Insurance States
In an at-fault car insurance state, those injured in a vehicle collision file a claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company. In the 38 states (and the District of Columbia) that have at-fault car insurance laws, insurance claims operate similarly to slip-and-fall claims. You also see coverage referred to as “bodily injury liability” on auto insurance policies.
Bodily injury liability coverage pays economic damages for injuries sustained in a traffic accident. Insurance companies investigate the accident and determine their customers’ percentage of liability. Usually, the insurance company offers a settlement based on its investigation findings. Settlement offers only consider costs such as medical and rehabilitation expenses and lost wages. They are also usually not enough to pay for the actual damages.
No-Fault Car Insurance States
The remaining 12 states have no-fault car insurance laws, and Michigan is among them. No-fault states operate differently than at-fault states. When you sustain injuries in a traffic accident, state law requires you to file a claim with your own insurance provider first, regardless of who is at fault.
These states pass legislation that says insurance companies must offer personal injury protection. Motorists must purchase policies that have PIP coverage. Here, you see the term “personal injury” used in reference to car crash coverage. Legally, however, the term is a misnomer. Personal injury protection still only covers bodily injuries.
The insurance also only covers relevant economic expenses such as your medical bills and wages for work you missed due to your injuries. Like all insurance policies, PIP protection only pays up to the policy’s limit. In Michigan, residents can purchase limitless PIP coverage, thereby preventing those injured from pursuing a third-party insurance claim.
Bodily Injury vs. Personal Injury in Legal Claims
Legally, bodily injury is not the same thing as personal injury. A bodily injury is a personal injury, but a personal injury is not a bodily injury. Personal injuries are harms that affect an individual’s personhood. These damages can be to the physical body, mental or emotional health or reputation. However, in most types of personal injury legal claims, bodily harm forms the basis for the claim and is often also the cause of the other types of injuries.
Personal Injury Case Regulatory Requirements
Every state has laws that regulate civil lawsuits, including personal injury claims. These regulations establish what criteria a plaintiff must meet to file a personal injury lawsuit and the kind and extent of damages the individual can seek. In traffic accidents and non-work-related slip-and-fall accident cases, you must have injuries that satisfy state requirements.
In Michigan, your injuries must result in permanent serious disfigurement or serious impairment of bodily function. A serious impairment of bodily function does not have to be permanent. For instance, if you fracture a bone, your injury may qualify as a serious impairment of bodily injury, even though you will likely recover fully. In either case, physical injury is the foundation for the personal injury claim.
Personal Injury Legal Settlements
If the facts of your case have merit, you can file a civil lawsuit for damages you incur from the accident. You must successfully demonstrate that the other party’s negligent behavior resulted in the accident that caused your injuries.
In many cases, plaintiffs seek to recover damages for personal injuries beyond bodily injury. If you have a serious accident or suffer severe injuries, it can lead to trauma, a loss of enjoyment and quality of life and physical and emotional pain and suffering.
Damages in Personal Injury Claims
In a personal injury lawsuit, you can pursue economic and non-economic damages that include:
- Past and future medical and rehabilitation costs
- Lost wages from missed work
- Compensation for reduced or lost earning capacity
- Compensation for physical and emotional pain and suffering
- Compensation for loss of companionship
No amount of money can repair some of these damages, but a settlement can help you get the assistance you deserve and adapt to a new way of living when needed. A personal injury attorney can evaluate your case and determine the full extent of your losses.
The Michigan Legal Team You Need on Your Side
At Mike Morse Law Firm, we recognize the challenges you face when recovering from an accident. We’re here to support you, offering legal advice and guiding you through each step in the process. There is no risk in contacting us; we don’t charge any fees until we win. Contact us today for a free case review.
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