Personal Injury Versus Bodily Injury: What’s the Difference?

personal injury vs bodily injury

A personal injury is an umbrella term that refers to physical, emotional, and/or mental injuries that take place in an accident where someone else’s negligence contributed to that injury. A bodily injury, then, is a specific type of personal injury—the physical injuries that have occured. These can include broken bones, bruises, whiplash, nerve damage, cuts, burns, and so forth.

Overview of Personal Injury Law

Sadly, an accident can change someone’s life, temporarily or permanently, in a blink of an eye. The victim may not be able to work; medical piles can pile up; and pain and suffering can be significant.

When a victim suffers an injury because of an accident, they may be entitled to financial compensation if someone else’s negligence played a role. Usually through the help of an accident attorney, a formal request for compensation is filed against the party at fault or their insurance company, this is called a personal injury claim. In most situations, this claim is handled out of court when a settlement is agreed upon by all relevant parties. If the parties involved can’t come to a satisfactory settlement, then the victim may file a personal injury lawsuit against the person or other entity responsible to obtain fair compensation. Bodily injury is often a key element of the claim and, if applicable, the lawsuit.

Bodily Injuries

These can be the most obvious forms of harm incurred during an accident. After all, you’re likely to be aware of pain where a bone was broken. But, there can be other types of bodily injuries that aren’t immediately obvious. Sometimes this is because, early on, the body can be flooded with natural substances that block pain which is designed to allow an injured person to cope. 

Other times, there could be internal organ damage, spinal injuries, and so forth that take time to be diagnosed. When filing a personal injury claim, it’s important to have as much medical information as possible about the impact of the accident and to not cave into pressure by the other party’s insurance company to settle quickly. 

Emotional Distress

Emotional distress can manifest itself as feelings of anxiety, even fear, preventing the victim from sleeping, and so forth. Some people may need to deal with depression after an accident and injury, while others may feel humiliated by the changes that have taken place in themselves. Each person can respond in different ways, emotionally speaking, post-accident.

In a personal injury lawsuit, an accident attorney can pursue damages for emotional distress, along with compensation for bodily injuries. This type of distress is often part of the pain and suffering component of a lawsuit.

Mental Health Challenges

Sometimes, the mental anguish that arises because of an accident goes further than insomnia or anxiety, perhaps crossing over into post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Someone suffering from PTSD may relive the trauma of the accident, over and over, perhaps “seeing” the crash about to occur and experiencing the same sense of panic. They could repeatedly “smell” the burning of tires and so forth. When this mental anguish can be directly traced to the accident and injury, an accident attorney can factor this into the financial compensation being sought.

Insurance Considerations

Residents of Florida must have personal injury protection (PIP) and property damage liability (PDL) in an insurance policy before they can register a vehicle in the state. Then, when an accident occurs, PIP pays for 80 percent of “all necessary reasonable medical expenses up to $10,000 resulting from a covered injury, no matter who caused the crash.” 

PDL, meanwhile, pays for the property damage caused by your driving or that occurred when someone else drove your insured vehicle. If a vehicle is registered as a taxi, then owners must also carry what’s called bodily injury liability (BIL coverage) in these amounts: $125,000 per person; $250,000 per occurrence; and $50,000 for PDL coverage.

When injuries caused cost more than $10,000 or the driver at fault is a non-resident, then the situation begins to become more complex.

Choosing and Consulting With a Personal Injury Attorney

When selecting an accident attorney, be sure to pick one with experience in your state, someone who has aggressively represented other people in similar situations. Bring documentation with you about the accident, your medical records, time missed from work and lost wages, and insurance information.

Come prepared with questions you’ll want to be answered. These can include the anticipated timeline of your case, the amount of damages you may be able to pursue, how your expenses can be paid, and other questions about the claim itself. You can also ask about the accident attorney’s experience and rates of success. Although a past record of success cannot predict the future and the outcome of your claim, having this information will allow you to ensure that your attorney is an experienced professional.

You may, in turn, get asked questions, perhaps about the levels and kinds of pain you’re currently experiencing; what your medical team is advising you to do; how long you’ve worked at a place, where, and what you do there; and whether you’ve consulted other personal injury attorneys.

Also, discuss your attorney’s fees and how they would be paid. Many personal injury firms charge on a contingency basis; this is what we do at Harrell & Harrell, P.A. This means that we only get paid if you are awarded compensation for your injuries. Once you decide upon a particular attorney, get the agreement in writing and have all parties sign the document.

Contact an Accident Attorney at Harrell & Harrell, P.A. 

Contact us today to set up a free consultation, one of our experienced personal injury attorneys will sit down with you and discuss the specifics of your situation. You can share what happened during your accident, what bodily injuries and other personal injuries occurred as a result, and we’ll help lead you through the next best steps to take.