When a person gets hurt, you often hear the terms “personal injury” and “bodily injury” being used. Although some people use these two terms conversely, they actually have very different meanings. Here’s what the differences are, and what the implications of personal and bodily injuries are.

What personal injury is

Personal injury is a component of civil law. A personal injury claim rewards victims of accidents or defamation of character lawsuits. The plaintiff in a personal injury case is the person who was injured or wronged. It involves the following legal elements:

Statute of limitations: Statutes of limitations vary from state to state. If you fail to file a claim within the statutory limitations window of the state where your injury occurred, you could forfeit your right to file a personal injury lawsuit.
Liability: The compensation an injured party receives is reduced by their share of the blame for an accident. If the injured person is found to be more than 50 percent responsible for the accident, they can no longer recover damages in the lawsuit.
Burden of proof: When compared to criminal cases, the burden of proof in a personal injury lawsuit is relatively low. To receive damages, a plaintiff in a personal injury suit must show that the defendant acted in a negligent manner.

Rewards in personal injury cases

The determination for compensation given in a personal injury lawsuit falls into two categories: economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are calculated based on one’s actual losses like lost wages, medical bills, and other out-of-pocket expenses. Non-economic damages are harder to value, but a good example would be pain and suffering.

Finding the right attorney

No matter what your personal injury claim is, you’ll want to find an attorney who is committed to representing you on an individual basis. Having to deal with a personal injury, malpractice, or a wrongful death case is one of the most difficult things anyone can go through.

To make matters worse, litigation costs can get into the hundreds of thousands over time. According to Ben Davis and Zackeree Kelin, who each work as a personal injury attorney in New Mexico, it can be helpful to find a law firm that’s willing to cover upfront payments towards their clients’ legal costs.

What bodily injury is

Bodily injury is different from personal injury because it deals with a specific injury to the body of a person that is caused by someone else. Bodily injury lawsuits are more commonly found in criminal cases.

For example, bodily injury liability insurance compensates the injuries of other drivers, pedestrians, or passengers in lawsuits where the insured individual is to blame for an auto accident. The reward in this type of case is given for the particular injury caused by the insured.

Rewards in bodily injury cases

When you sustain a bodily injury, you are entitled to receive compensation for lost wages, medical expenses, or other out-of-pocket expenses. In some cases, a person who suffers bodily injury can receive compensation for pain and suffering as well.

Summarizing personal and bodily injury

Personal injury implies a specific injury sustained as a result of an accident. This type of injury can occur from an auto accident, using defective products, slip and fall accidents, or a wrongful death lawsuit. Bodily injury implies injuries sustained by another person, and bodily injury suits often result from car accidents.

If you have been the victim of a personal or bodily injury, it is vital to retain a skilled personal injury lawyer who can guide you through the complicated process of recovering damages. Insurance companies are extremely skilled at using a variety of different tactics to try to bring about a resolution where they pay the lowest amount possible.

Author's Bio: 

A freelance writer with a BA in English from Sarah Lawrence College.