What is the Difference Between Bodily Injury and Personal Injury?

If you or somebody you care about has been injured due to the careless or negligent actions of somebody else, then there are two terms you may have heard thrown around – “bodily injury” and “personal injury.”

While these two terms may seem synonymous to most people, the reality is that they both have different meanings when it comes to the legal realm. Here, we want to discuss the difference between the phrases bodily injury and personal injury, as this could play a significant role and the outcome of a person’s case as they are working to seek compensation.

Criminal Versus Civil Court Proceedings

We first want to discuss how injuries are referenced in various types of court proceedings. In general, you will see the phrase “bodily injury” regularly used when it comes to criminal cases. In fact, bodily injury shows up in various types of actual charges in state law. This is typically in reference to a person causing an injury to another person during the commission of a crime.

The term “personal injury” is commonly used in civil court claims. For instance, if a person sustains an injury caused by the negligence of another individual, they can file a personal injury lawsuit against the alleged negligent party.

In a criminal proceeding, an injury victim will typically not be awarded any type of damages if there is a guilty conviction against the alleged negligent party. In a civil court proceeding, if a plaintiff is successful in their case against the defendant, then they will likely receive compensation for the personal injury claim. This can include coverage of medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering damages, and more.

Bodily Injury Language in Insurance Policies

One common area where most people are familiar with seeing the term “bodily injury” is in their car insurance policies. For instance, drivers in Tennessee are required to carry and maintain the following insurance types and minimums:

  • Bodily Injury liability: $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident
  • Property Damage liability: $15,000 per accident

You will see that every driver must maintain bodily injury liability coverage. This coverage is in place to pay for any injuries caused by the insured driver if they caused an accident. The at-fault driver’s insurance carrier is responsible for covering the injury expenses of the other drivers who may be injured in the crash.

Tennessee does not require that drivers carry uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage, but it is highly recommended that all drivers do so. This type of coverage is designed to pay for any injuries a person sustains if they are struck by an uninsured driver.

What is Included in Car Accident Bodily Injury Claims?

Car insurance bodily injury coverage in Tennessee covers a wide range of expenses that an accident victim may incur. This can include, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Medical expenses
  • Surgical care
  • Physical therapy and rehabilitation
  • Medical devices such as wheelchairs or crutches
  • Lost income if a victim cannot work
  • Legal fees if the injured party takes the insured to court

Bodily injury coverage is designed to pay the expenses of any party injured due to the actions of the insured. This can include drivers and passengers in other vehicles as well as any other parties that could be involved in the accident: motorcyclists, bicyclists, pedestrians, etc.

Bodily Injuries can Lead to Personal Injury Lawsuits

The vast majority of vehicle accident claims are resolved through a settlement with insurance carriers, typically through bodily injury liability coverage. However, if an insurance carrier denies a claim or if the policy limits are exhausted, it may be necessary for an injury victim to file a personal injury lawsuit against the alleged negligent party.

When this happens, the claim officially enters the Tennessee civil court system and could end up going to trial. However, even after a case is filed in civil court, it is unlikely that it will go all the way to a trial. Typically, attorneys are able to negotiate settlements during the investigation and discovery process.

Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Claims in Tennessee

It is important for any person who sustains a bodily injury as a result of the negligent actions of another individual, business, or entity to know that they have a limited amount of time to file a lawsuit. The Tennessee personal injury statute of limitations is one year from the date the injury occurs. This gives injury victims a one-year window with which to file the lawsuit against the alleged negligent party, or they will lose the ability to recover the compensation they deserve.

Will You Need an Attorney for an Injury Claim?

If you or somebody you care about has sustained an injury as a result of the actions of another individual, it is important that you seek legal assistance as soon as possible. Yes, it is possible to pursue a personal injury case without assistance from an attorney, but it is difficult. The reality is that injury victims often do not have the resources necessary to take on aggressive insurance carriers or well-funded negligent parties. An attorney can level the playing field and help ensure that the victim has the resources they need to secure maximum compensation.

How Much Compensation is Available for a Personal Injury Claim in Tennessee?

There is no set amount of money awarded in a personal injury case in Tennessee. Rather, the total amount of compensation will vary depending on the facts and circumstances surrounding each particular case. There is no limitation on the amount of money they can be awarded to an injury victim for economic damages such as medical bills, lost wages, out-of-pocket expenses, property damage losses, etc. However, Tennessee does place a $750,000 limitation on non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of consortium, etc. This cap is raised to $1 million for cases involving some catastrophic injuries.