What Is the Difference Between Bodily Injury and Personal Injury?

Are Bodily Injury and Personal Injury the Same Thing?

If you’ve been hurt in a Minnesota auto accident, a slip-and-fall or some other scenario, you’re probably reading or hearing the phrases “personal injury” and “bodily injury.” Those phrases sound like they should be interchangeable, but they do mean different things. 

One way to keep the two phrases separate in your mind is to remember this: “bodily injury” refers only to physical injuries, while “personal injury” is a broader term that includes non-physical damage such as emotional trauma. “Personal injury” also refers to the field of law that allows injured people to get compensation from whoever caused their harm.

Types of Bodily Injury

Bodily injury is quite literally any physical injury to your body. Bodily injuries include cuts and bruises, broken bones, burns, loss of limb, organ damage, paralysis, brain damage and more. The phrase is used across several different legal areas:

  • Criminal law, when a case involves an assault or other crime where someone was physically injured
  • Insurance, when discussing liability coverage for bodily injuries sustained by other people in an accident in which you were involved
  • Civil lawsuits, when an injured person files a claim in court seeking compensation beyond what insurance provides

The Two Meanings of Personal Injury

It may be helpful to think of the phrase “personal injury” in two ways. 

First, personal injury is a broad term that includes all types of physical injuries, plus various other harms a person suffers in an accident. So, the phrase personal injury encompasses all the bodily injuries, plus:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental and emotional distress
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Loss of consortium

Second, personal injury is the area of law that allows injured people to file a “personal injury claim,” which is a lawsuit seeking compensation from the person(s) responsible for the harm. To prevail in a Minnesota personal injury claim, the injured party needs to prove negligence on the part of whomever they are suing. 

When Can I File a Personal Injury Lawsuit After an Accident?

The most common personal injury lawsuits involve auto accidents. Minnesota is one of just 12 no-fault auto insurance states. If you look on your insurance card, you’ll see something called PIP, which is Personal Injury Protection. This is the no-fault coverage and all Minnesota drivers must have it.

  • If you get hurt in a car or truck crash, your own no-fault (PIP) coverage kicks in to cover your medical costs and wage losses. 
  • If your damages exceed your own PIP limit, and if the other driver is found liable, then you can pursue additional compensation from that driver’s liability coverage. 
  • Finally, if your damages exceed the value of the other driver’s insurance, then you may be able to proceed with filing a personal injury lawsuit.

If your damages are mostly limited to bodily injuries (the physical harms mentioned earlier), then it’s possible insurance will cover everything. But, if you have pain and suffering and other non-physical issues, that’s when you’ll probably need to pursue additional compensation through a personal injury lawsuit. 

Personal injury lawsuits can also be filed by people who are injured due to:

  • Defective products
  • Slips-and-falls
  • Medical malpractice
  • Dog bites and other animal bites

Talk to a Sherburne County Injury Lawyer About Your Legal Needs

The attorneys at White & Associates in Elk River have been helping injured Minnesotans for decades. We are here to help you understand more of the differences between bodily injury and personal injury, and we can evaluate your situation and advise you on what legal options are available. 

To schedule a free initial consultation with one of our injury lawyers, please call 763-241-0477 or send us a message anytime.

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