Bodily Injury vs. Personal Injury

Are You Unsure About the Distinction Between Bodily Injury and Personal Injury?

By understanding the distinction between bodily injury and personal injury, you can better navigate legal proceedings and pursue appropriate compensation for your injuries and losses.

Bodily Injury vs. Personal Injury - What's the Difference?

Bodily Injury

Bodily injury is a legal term that refers to physical harm or damage to a person’s body. [1] In insurance claims, bodily injury is a key factor in determining liability and achieving fair compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost wages.

It includes accidents on business property, such as slip-and-fall incidents, car accidents resulting in physical harm to drivers or passengers, and workplace accidents. In these instances, the legal definition of bodily injury is significant in establishing fault and determining appropriate compensation for the injured party.

According to a report, there are approximately 40.0 million emergency department visits for bodily injuries every year in the United States. [2]

Bodily Injury vs. Personal Injury - What's the Difference?

Personal Injury

Personal injury, in the context of civil law, refers to any physical, mental, or emotional harm suffered by an individual due to the negligent actions of another party. It can include a wide range of incidents, such as car accidents, slip-and-fall incidents, nursing home abuse, wrongful death, and medical malpractice.

To file a personal injury claim, the injured party must establish that the other party acted negligently, resulting in the harm suffered. The key elements of a personal injury claim include proving that the defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff, that the defendant breached that duty through their actions or inaction, and that this breach directly caused the plaintiff’s injuries.

Understanding the Types and Causes

Understanding the types and causes of bodily injury is important for seeking appropriate medical treatment, pursuing legal recourse, and taking steps to prevent future damages. By recognizing the potential types and causes of bodily injury, individuals and institutions can work towards promoting safety and well-being for everyone.

Bodily Injury

Types of bodily injuries include:

  • Broken bones
  • Burns
  • Bruises
  • Concussions
  • Internal organ damage
  • Neck and head injuries
  • Nerve damage
  • Soft tissue injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries

The causes of bodily injury include assault and violence, car accidents, construction accidents, defective products, medical malpractice, slip and falls, and workplace accidents.

These diverse sources of injury can lead to a range of physical harm, from soft tissue injuries to more severe conditions such as spinal cord damage and internal organ injuries. Each type of injury may require specific medical attention and treatment to aid recovery and rehabilitation.

Understanding the Types and Causes

Personal Injury

Personal injury includes bodily injuries as well as emotional damage or psychological trauma such as:

Personal injury includes a broad spectrum of bodily injuries, emotional trauma, and psychological damages due to factors such as negligence, recklessness, or deliberate actions of others caused by a variety of incidents, from accidents and medical errors to dangerous conditions, assaults, and product defects.

woman having ptsd

A bodily injury claim refers to a legal case in which a person seeks compensation for physical injuries due to another party’s negligence or intentional actions.

The legal process for pursuing a bodily injury insurance claim can be complex, and it often involves gathering evidence, negotiating with insurance adjusters, and possibly proceeding to trial if a settlement cannot be reached.

Personal Injury Protection Insurance, also known as PIP, is a type of auto insurance that covers medical expenses and lost wages resulting from a car accident, regardless of who was at fault. [2] This type of insurance is designed to ensure that individuals injured in a car accident receive prompt and adequate medical treatment and compensation for any income lost due to the injury.

PIP is also called “no-fault” insurance because it is available regardless of who caused the accident and is mandatory in some states and optional in others. PIP insurance may also provide benefits for essential services, funeral expenses, and survivor benefits in the event of a fatality.

Determining Liable Party

Assessing fault in bodily injury claims can be complex and involves gathering evidence like accident reports, medical records, photographs, and witness testimony. Factors such as the actions of each party, the conditions at the time of the injury, and any relevant laws or regulations are also considered.

In a personal injury lawsuit, assessing fault involves determining liability in various types of accidents and understanding the role of the at-fault party. Factors such as negligence, fault laws, and comparative fault are considered when assessing fault.

Statute of Limitations

The Statute of Limitations for filing a bodily injury claim and personal injury protection (PIP) varies from state to state. It typically ranges from one year to six years from the date of the accident or injury. [3]

There are some exceptions to this rule. For example, if the injury was not discovered immediately, the Statute of Limitations may be extended. If the injured person is a minor, the Statute of Limitations may be extended until they reach the age of 18.

Statute of Limitations

Compensation for Damages

Bodily injury coverage seeks compensation for the physical harm and economic damages due to another party’s negligence or intentional actions.

  • Lost wages
  • Medical expenses
  • Property damage

The insurance coverage for personal injury claims includes economic and non-economic damages and punitive damages.

Economic damages

  • Disfigurement
  • Medical bills
  • Loss of income
  • Permanent disability
  • Rehabilitation cost

Non-economic damages

Punitive damages

Punitive damages, known as “exemplary damages,” are monetary awards imposed during legal proceedings to penalize a defendant for their negligence.

Why You Should Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer?

After an accident, working with a personal injury lawyer will ensure that your rights are protected. Personal injury attorneys can provide valuable legal advice and guidance, ensuring that you understand your options and make informed decisions.

They understand how bodily injury claims differ from personal injury claims and have expertise in effectively gathering evidence to support your case, such as witness statements, medical records, and expert opinions, which is essential in proving your claim.

Personal injury lawyers can handle all communication and negotiation with insurance companies on your behalf, relieving you of the stress and hassle of dealing with them directly.

Why You Should Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer?

Call Goldberg & Loren today for a legal consultation with a skilled personal injury lawyer regarding your personal injury case.


Bodily injury refers specifically to physical harm suffered by an individual, while personal injury is a broader legal term that encompasses bodily injury as well as emotional distress and other non-physical harm.

Yes, a lawsuit can encompass both bodily injury and personal injury claims if the individual has suffered physical harm as well as emotional distress or mental anguish due to the same incident.

Compensation for bodily injury is directly related to the physical harm suffered, such as medical expenses and lost wages. Personal injury compensation, on the other hand, may include additional damages for emotional distress, pain and suffering, and loss of consortium, in addition to medical costs and lost income.


[1] Definition of BODILY INJURY. (n.d.).

[2] FastStats. (n.d.). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved February 13, 2024, from

[3] Kagan, J. (2023, September 4). Personal Injury Protection: What it is, How it Works. Investopedia.

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