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  • Writer's pictureRobert Schuerger II

Bodily Injury VS Personal Injury: What Is the Difference, and What Do They Mean?

Millions of Americans are injured annually due to someone else's negligence or actions. These incidents often lead to civil claims and court cases, and the terminology used can be a bit confusing.

This leads to two of the common terms used when people are hurt: bodily injury and personal injury.

The two are often used interchangeably, but legally, they have very different meanings.

Anyone considering pursuing a claim for their injury needs to understand the difference between bodily injury vs. personal injury and what they each mean in their case. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys also has more information on what is personal injury fraud?

The Short Answer: What Is the Difference Between Bodily Injury and Personal Injury?

The Short Answer: What Is the Difference Between Bodily Injury and Personal Injury?

In short, personal injury refers to a type of claim made by victims against a liable party to recover medical expenses and other damages. Bodily injury is the term used to describe injuries and a type of insurance coverage that pays out for third-party expenses and damages if the policyholder is found to be at fault.

What Does Personal Injury Mean?

The term personal injury describes a type of civil claim made by an injured person against the person deemed responsible for causing the injury.

It can also mean a personal injury lawsuit, which is the next step in the legal process to recover compensation if the at-fault insurance company does not agree with the initial claim.

How Does a Personal Injury Claim Work?

A personal injury claim is when an injured party decides to seek compensation from the at-fault party. It usually begins as a civil claim between the victim's legal team and the negligent party's insurance company, with the goal of reaching a reasonable settlement without going to court through an official lawsuit.

Anybody who is injured due to someone else's actions may have a personal injury case. The most common incidents include car accidents, workplace injuries, medical malpractice, slip, trip, and fall injuries.

Types of Damages in Personal Injury Claims

There are two parts to a personal injury claim: economic damages and non-economic damages.


Economic damages are the expenses related to the injury that have a tangible dollar amount attached. This includes medical bills, legal fees, lost wages, property damage, and the costs of ongoing medical treatment following the injury.


Non-economic damages address the things that don't come with a receipt, such as the emotional distress suffered by accident victims and the long-term impact the physical harm they sustained will have on their quality of life.

What Is the First Step?

A personal injury lawyer in Indianapolis IN drafts a demand letter on behalf of the victim detailing the events, the evidence, and the monetary value of the damages they want to recover. This is sent to the at-fault person's insurance company, and settlement negotiations follow.

When Does It Become a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

If the insurance company does not respond within the time frame, refuses to engage in negotiations, or a settlement agreement cannot be reached, the victim would have their personal injury lawyer file a lawsuit. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys can help explain questions like what is a personal injury demand letter?

Personal injury lawsuits take the case to court, where a judge determines whether or not the person is liable and, if so, how much they should pay. Settling out of court is still sometimes possible after a lawsuit is filed since it is usually in everyone's best interest to reach a conclusion quickly.

What Does Bodily Injury Mean?

What Does Bodily Injury Mean?

Unlike personal injury, bodily injury does not refer to any type of claim or lawsuit but is used to describe the actual physical injuries sustained by the victim. Although some people sometimes say 'bodily injury claim', they actually mean a personal injury claim. It is often used in criminal law cases when charges are being brought against a defendant.

Bodily injury is also the name given to insurance coverage designed to pay out to cover the medical expenses and damages for third-party victims.

What Is Bodily Injury Coverage?

Bodily injury liability coverage is a type of insurance that protects people's finances if they accidentally cause an injury to another person. It is often required as part of a car insurance policy in case the driver causes a crash and somebody else is hurt.

Indiana is a fault state when it comes to bodily injuries, meaning the person who is responsible for causing the physical injury is liable to pay the expenses. In car accident law especially, this is the bodily injury insurance coverage comes in.

Bodily Injury Liability Coverage VS Personal Injury Protection (PIP)

While bodily injury coverage pays out if a person causes an injury to someone else, personal injury protection (PIP) coverage pays for medical expenses for the person injured in an accident.

How Does Bodily Injury Come Into Personal Injury Claims?

Although not the same thing, bodily injury and personal injury are closely intertwined in legal aspects.

A personal injury settlement can be tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of dollars, which most people simply do not have lying around.

Bodily injury liability insurance protects people who cause accidents from bankruptcy while ensuring that victims get the money they are owed.

Let's break it down step by step to further define the difference between bodily injury and personal injury.

  • An accident is caused by Person A. Their actions cause Person B to suffer a serious injury. The term bodily injury refers to the physical harm they sustained.

  • Person A has to pay for their own medical expenses, but Person B wants to file an insurance claim to have Person A cover their costs.

  • Person B has a personal injury case because of their bodily injury.

  • The claim is filed. Person A's bodily injury insurance policy pays out the compensation required.

The actual process is far more complex, with many ins and outs, but this brief example shows how the two work alongside each other.

Contact Schuerger Shunnarah Today to Schedule a Free Consultation

Working with the best personal injury law firm in Indiana can help ensure maximum compensation for victims of bodily harm that was not their fault. Contact Schuerger Shunnarah for a free legal consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer.

Take the first step toward justice as they go to war for you.


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