What’s the Difference Between Personal and Bodily Injury?
When you suffer an injury in California in 2019, you may wonder what your legal options are. One of the first distinctions you should make is determining if you suffered from a personal injury or a bodily injury. While people may use these terms interchangeably, they have very different meanings and legal applications.
The Definition of Personal Injury
A personal injury claim falls under the realm of civil law. A personal injury is, damage caused to a person by the negligence, recklessness, or carelessness of another entity, whether it be a person, government body, corporation, or building owner. Many different accidents can lead to personal injuries, such as car accidents, product defects, medical malpractice, and injuries on unsafe premises.
Under California law, you have two years from the date of your injury to file a personal injury claim in California civil court. You will need to prove who was liable for the accident either in the courtroom or through an outside settlement process. At the end of the personal injury process, you receive compensation to recover from losses suffered from the accident and resulting injuries.
Proving a Personal Injury Claim
You can choose to file a personal injury lawsuit or follow the insurance claims process to receive compensation for a personal injury. Different insurance policies have different policy limits and coverage options for compensation. In most lawsuits, you can receive compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, property damages, and non-economic damages, such as disability, loss of quality of life, and pain and suffering.
You have to satisfy the following elements to successfully prove a personal injury claim in California civil court.
- You must prove that the at-fault party was responsible for maintaining a duty of care not to cause you harm. For example, doctors have the responsibility to adhere to high medical standards and drivers must follow the rules of the road.
- You must prove that the at-fault party neglected that duty of care. For example, a driver failing to honor the right of way or a doctor providing a misdiagnosis would breach their duties of care.
- You must prove that the breach of duty of care led to your injuries. For example, a misdiagnosis can lead to the aggravation of an illness and a driver can crash into your vehicle over a right-of-way dispute.
- You must prove that you suffered damages as a result of your injuries. For example, your aggravated illness can lead to additional medical costs and a car crash can lead to significant injuries, such as broken bones.
The Definition of Bodily Injury
Bodily injury is different from personal injury because it involves specific injury to the body of another person. Usually, bodily injury cases involve insurance claims, while personal injury claims can involve insurance claims and lawsuits. Bodily injury often involves car accidents, while personal injury cases can involve all types of accidents.
Proving a Bodily Injury Claim
When you suffer from a bodily injury, you will have to receive compensation from the insurance company. You can claim damages for medical expenses, lost wages, treatment costs, hospital transportation, loss of earning capacity, and any out-of-pocket expenses related to the injuries. You can even claim compensation for future expenses, such as future therapy, impairment, and future loss of income.
You will have to follow your insurance policy to receive compensation for a personal injury claim. California is a fault state, which means that you will receive compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurance company. The driver should have bodily injury liability insurance or other coverage available to compensate you for your losses.
Why Is This Difference Important?
Personal injury and bodily injury cases are very different and involve different legal processes and bodies of proof. It is important to know the difference between these two types of injuries so that you and your attorney can craft the most compelling case to receive compensation for your losses. If you have not yet obtained the services of a lawyer for your personal or bodily injury case, contact one as soon as possible.