What’s the Difference Between Personal Injury and Bodily Injury?

  • Personal Injury
May 7, 2022

The legal world can be a bit perplexing to outsiders. For example, lawyers may spend months fighting over the distinction between words that, to their clients, sound all but identical. Of course, there is usually a reason for this, but the exact choice of wording can have significant consequences for clients.

Such is the case when distinguishing between “bodily injury” and “personal injury.” They may sound similar, but knowing the difference between “bodily injury” and “personal injury” can majorly affect your life, especially after a car accident.

The Legal Distinction

The term “Personal injury” is used by lawyers to describe an area of practice and a huge range of injuries that a person can suffer. It is sometimes defined as any harm done to a person’s body, mind, or emotions. Under that definition, “bodily injury” is a type of personal injury.

In a legal sense, there is not much difference between the terms. For example, a plaintiff can be compensated for all kinds of injuries that are not connected to the body, such as emotional distress. However, to the extent there is a difference, bodily injuries may be easier to calculate monetarily, and state laws often cap non-economic damages (so-called “pain and suffering” damages).

Mostly, the real significance comes down to differences in insurance coverage, as discussed below.

Auto Insurance

In auto insurance, “personal injury” and “bodily injury” have very different meanings, which can greatly affect how money is paid out after an accident. Car accidents are the most common type of personal injury case. The limits of insurance coverage determine how much a plaintiff can realistically recover in most cases, so it’s a good idea to know the difference.

Bodily injury coverage is a type of liability insurance that drivers are required to carry in almost every state. It is paid out by the policy of the person who was at fault to the person or persons who were not at fault. It covers medical and other expenses, such as time missed from work.

Personal injury protection (PIP), on the other hand, is meant to pay the medical expenses of the policyholder and their passengers in the event of an accident, regardless of who was at fault.

For this reason, it is often called “no-fault” insurance. If you have PIP and are in an accident that was your fault, you can still receive money from your insurance company to pay hospital bills, insurance deductibles, etc. PIP is not required in most states.

To make things more complicated, PIP is no longer offered in Colorado, which is an “at-fault” state. This means that at least one person must be at fault for any auto accident, and the at-fault driver’s insurance is used to cover the victims’ medical expenses. However, Colorado drivers can still purchase a type of coverage called MedPay for their medical expenses, though it is generally less extensive than PIP.

Get Help from Professionals

Navigating the insurance system and maximizing your compensation is difficult to do on your own. The rules are complicated, and insurance companies are not always forthcoming with information that could lead to them paying more money. However, our personal injury experts understand the system and know how to negotiate with these companies so that you receive fair compensation after an accident. Contact us today to schedule a meeting.

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