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Difference Between Bodily Injury and Personal Injury

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

Usually, the terms “bodily injury” and “personal injury” get used to refer to different things, but sometimes, the meanings can overlap or get used in more than one situation. To add to the confusion, a term might mean one thing in criminal court and a different thing in a civil case. 

If you got hurt because of someone else’s careless or intentional act, you will want to talk with a California personal injury attorney about whether you could pursue a claim for your injuries. Let’s cover some of the broader aspects of the difference between bodily injury and personal injury.

What Bodily Injury Means

The term “bodily injury” has two primary, yet vastly different, definitions. In the criminal law context, a crime that results in bodily injury to another person usually gets charged as a more severe crime with the possibility of harsher punishments than if the crime did not cause bodily injury to a victim. 

For example, to assault someone means to put them in fear of immediate harm. Shouting threats at someone and raising one’s fist as if to strike could constitute an assault. If the person committing the assault follows through and actually causes bodily injury to the victim, that situation usually gets charged as assault and battery, rather than simple assault. 

The second definition of bodily injury refers to a type of liability insurance. This use of the term usually happens in civil cases, not criminal cases. 

Bodily injury insurance, also called personal injury or injury to the person insurance, can pay the medical costs and other items related to the treatment of wounds a person suffers because of the negligence of someone else. For example, your automobile liability insurance policy in California must include the minimum required amount of coverage for bodily injury to other people if you get held at fault in an accident. 

What Personal Injury Means

Personal injury typically is a term that applies to civil claims or lawsuits when a person gets hurt because of the carelessness of someone else. You might have a personal injury claim, for example, if you get hit by a drunk driver and you have physical injuries as a result.

A personal injury claim can include your medical expenses, lost wages, future medical expenses related to your injuries, diminished earning potential because of your wounds, pain and suffering, disfigurement, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), loss of enjoyment of life, and other categories of losses. 

What Happens if You Get Hurt When Someone Else Commits a Crime  

Sometimes, people do not file a personal injury claim or a lawsuit against someone who injured them while committing a crime because they mistakenly assume that when a person goes to criminal court, they cannot also be liable in civil court. In fact, there is no such bar.

Let’s say that another driver was out of control because of road rage, and they crashed into your car. That driver got arrested and charged for the road rage. The fact that a person might be in jail or charged with a crime does not take away your right to seek monetary compensation for your injuries. The criminal courts do not usually address the issue of getting monetary damages for victims, so you will have to take actions to get your losses paid. Whether your personal injury was the result of a negligent act or an intentional/criminal act, a California personal injury attorney can talk to you at no charge and let you know if you might have a personal injury claim that could qualify for compensation. Get in touch with our office today for help with your case.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.