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Personal Injury vs. Bodily Injury: What’s the Difference – 2024 Guide

Accidental injury is the 3rd most common cause of death in the United States, and this number is presumed to go up from here. While injuries can be a consequence of no-fault accidents, there are many instances where someone else’s unintentional behavior can cause dire consequences for someone else.

If you’ve been injured because of someone else’s actions, you may have a decent case that an experienced injury attorney can help you pursue. However, injury legislation can be confusing, and the difference between personal and bodily injury can be perplexing. Here’s the easiest way to understand this distinction.

Defining Personal Injury

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Personal injury in legal terms is an injury that arises from the carelessness or neglect of other people. This is typically the domain of civil law, not criminal. There are set parameters for what counts as personal injury based on the circumstances surrounding the event. Usually, the plaintiff is the person who was injured, but in cases where the damage has caused death, the next of kin may file a wrongful death suit.

Personal injury can include a wide range of situations and circumstances. Medical malpractice, nursing home abuse, pedestrian accidents, work-related injuries, falling in a public or private place, repetitive strain injury, car or truck accidents, and asbestosis/mesothelioma are all different variations of personal injury claims. Moreover, personal injury damages can also include trauma, mental anguish, loss of income,  and a variety of medical and rehabilitative costs.

Understanding Personal Injury Claims

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Personal injury claims can be hard to assess because so many different kinds of scenarios fall underneath this umbrella term. For example, medical malpractice and nursing home abuse claims are based on injuries caused by healthcare workers and nursing staff due to neglect.

This type of claim will usually end up being centered on medical professional codes and the details that surround the medical malpractice being discussed.

Pedestrian and auto accidents are usually cases where negligent driving causes injury to innocent bystanders. For example, if a driver is under the influence, doesn’t have a license or engages in aggressive driving behavior, they could be held liable under an injury lawsuit.

However, in the case of a DUI, there may be simultaneous criminal litigation going on. The dynamics of a personal injury lawsuit can change based on possible criminal proceedings against the defendant.

Repetitive strain and other work-related injuries are claims made in workplaces that have not ensured adequately safe conditions for work. Remember that workplaces are legally required to ensure that workplaces are safe and will not put workers in danger. This legal obligation also extends to repetitive strain injuries.

Asbestos-related illnesses can also be a reason to hold landlords or previous owners and realtors accountable. The best way to avoid getting into a difficult situation with your landlord, in particular, is to get a personal injury attorney involved straight away instead of dealing with the problem on your own.

Defining Bodily Injury

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Bodily injury is used differently. Although this terminology is typically used interchangeably, it implies different meanings.  It’s usually referred to as a specific injury caused by another person. For example, a bruise or a broken leg is a bodily injury. The existence of physical harm is often used to supplement a case of simple or aggravated assault. This type of injury can add weight to a preexisting case.

The other circumstance where bodily injury is used is with insurance claims. In cases of assault or other accidents, insurance companies usually will not offer settlement proceeds if there is no bodily injury. Emotional pain, fear, or trauma can be proven by receiving psychological treatment. Long-lasting traumatic disorders can be compensated for as well.

Understanding The Difference

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The difference between the two of them is mainly a semantic one. Personal injury is used to refer to a kind of claim that a plaintiff may file against a defendant. There are specific legalities that govern what constitutes a personal injury, and as discussed above, there are often many circumstances that fall under personal injury claims.

However, bodily injury is used to refer to an actual tangible injury. There are no claims that one can make under that category specifically. Moreover, bodily injury can be a part of a personal injury lawsuit, but that may not be the entire claim that the injury attorney chooses to make.

For example, a personal injury lawsuit involving nursing home neglect can cite bodily injury as evidence of neglect. However, intangible damage and distress, along with the medical expenses emerging from said bodily injury, are what the plaintiff may seek compensation for.

How To Figure Out The Legalities

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You must understand that there are significant technical differences between the two, even though they may overlap. A personal injury case is very different from pursuing charges against bodily injury done by another person.

What you need to know about the legal differences between the two is that one is a term used within civil law, whereas the other is usually part of a criminal law case. Personal injury lawsuits hinge on the fact that there was neglect or accidental actions involved rather than malicious overtly dangerous behavior. A standard duty of care is the responsibility of all kinds of parties.

Therefore, while a truck accident or a failure to take care of fall risk in a workplace can fall under a personal injury claim, an attack by someone else is strictly a case of assault. However, sometimes the minutiae of these claims can only be understood by a licensed personal injury and accident lawyer.

Before you embark on filing a personal injury claim, you should also be aware that a considerable amount of time may be spent ascertaining the full damages that the incident in question has caused you. Personal injury claims can be filed citing a long list of long-term effects that you have suffered.

Lisa Douglas, a practicing injury attorney would advise that when dealing with temporary or long term effects from an incident beyond your control, you need to get some proper legal advice. There are aspects to personal injury that you might not be trained to see, but your attorney definitely is.

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