Most states have complex laws, and many legal terms are hard to understand. A common question clients have is whether bodily injury and personal injury have the same meaning.
These two terms may sound similar, but they are actually quite different when it comes to the law. Here is everything you need to know about these vital legal terms.
What Is Personal Injury?
Personal injury is a broad category of civil law. It includes dozens of types of practice areas. Every practice area has something in common, though. In personal injury claims, one party’s negligent actions harmed another person.
Some of the more common areas included in this type of law are:
- Wrongful death
- Dog bites
- Sexual assault
- Medical malpractice
- Nursing home negligence
- Worker’s compensation
- Defective products
While each of these examples involves harm, that harm isn’t always physical. For example, both slander and libel involve damage to a person’s reputation. Similarly, sexual assault usually involves emotional damage, along with physical harm.
If you were harmed by another person in any way, contact a personal injury attorney. Personal injury lawyers help victims recover money for their injuries after an accident.
What Is Bodily Injury?
On the other hand, “bodily injury” refers to a form of auto insurance coverage. In most states, you must buy this type of insurance to legally drive a car. For example, in Virginia, you must buy at least $60,000 of coverage for bodily injury. This is part of your liability insurance and uninsured motorist insurance. If you were injured in Virginia, get help from Virginia personal injury lawyer at Biber Law.
Your insurer will generally only pay for injuries after a car accident if you have an active bodily insurance policy in place.
Is There Any Connection Between Personal Injury and Bodily Injury?
There are connections between these two legal terms. A bodily injury insurance policy protects you from personal injury lawsuits. Your insurer will pay for damages from a personal injury lawsuit. They will pay up to the maximum value of your bodily injury policy. Without this policy, you would likely have to pay that money out of pocket.
Similarly, you can sue the other driver after you get hurt in an accident. Typically, the insurance company will pay you money up to the limit of the bodily injury policy the other driver has. After you reach that limit, the other driver is responsible for paying you.
Limits to this Protection
Unfortunately, every insurance policy has a benefit limit. The benefit limit for your insurance policy is the maximum amount of money the insurer will pay to an injured party. In some cases, someone injured in a car accident may try to get more money from you. This may happen after reaching the policy limit.
If this happens, you need to contact an experienced civil defense attorney as quickly as possible. Some states limit how much money you can get from personal injury lawsuits. Your lawyer will explain your legal options.
What happens if the other driver doesn’t have insurance? If you are responsible for the accident, your liability insurance will cover the damage to both you and the other driver.
However, if the other driver caused the accident, then your uninsured motorist policy will cover your damages. This policy protects you if you are in an accident with somebody who doesn’t have insurance. But it doesn’t pay any money to the other driver.
Your insurance company should pay you money based on your need and your policy limits. If it refuses to pay you what you deserve, a lawyer may be able to help you get more money.
There are many myths and mistaken beliefs about personal injury and bodily injury. Some of the most common wrong beliefs include:
Personal Injuries Only Involve Physical Harm
The term “personal injury” sounds like it means a physical injury. But personal injury doesn’t have to involve any type of physical harm. Harm to your reputation, emotional harm, and mental harm all count as personal injury in the legal system. Therefore, these types of harm matter in a claim as long as negligence caused them.
Bodily Injury Insurance Covers Any Physical Injuries
Your bodily injury insurance policy only covers injuries you suffered during a car accident. This means your bodily injury insurance wouldn’t cover an injury you got while fixing the roof of your house, for instance. You would need medical insurance or homeowner’s insurance, depending on the situation.
This belief may arise because most car insurance companies also sell other types of insurance. This can make it seem as though these insurances overlap.
Property Damage Is a Type of Personal Injury
While personal injury includes many types of harm, it does not include property damage, though. Property damage is a different category of law. Typically, a personal injury lawyer can also handle your property damage claims. But that doesn’t mean they are the same type of harm.
If You File a Bodily Injury Insurance Claim, You Can’t Sue Your Insurance Company
Insurance companies exist to make money. Sadly, this means that they often try to pay less money to victims than they should. And some insurance companies will bend or break the law to pay people less money.
A personal injury attorney can figure out how much money the insurance company should have paid you and fight to get it for you. They can also file a personal injury lawsuit against the insurance company for you.
Do You Still Have Questions?
If you get hurt, it’s crucial to know the differences between bodily injury and personal injury. A skilled personal injury attorney can answer all of your questions about these terms. Do you need to find out if you have a personal injury claim? Contact the dedicated team at The Joel Bieber Firm to book a free consultation today.