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Bodily injury vs Personal Injury: What’s the Difference?

Bodily injury vs Personal Injury: What’s the Difference?

Stethoscope and judgement hammer.

What’s the difference between a bodily injury vs personal injury? Here’s everything you need to know before contacting a lawyer!

In our world of buzzwords, important legal concepts can be lost in the white noise.

So when a person gets hurt, you’ll hear people using bodily injury and personal injury interchangeably. But, these two are rather different in the legal world and couldn’t be more different.

Keep on reading to know all about bodily injury vs personal injury, their legal aspects, and compensation.

Bodily Injury vs Personal Injury

Both terms have the word “injury” in them. However, they have different connotations and consequences, which is why we’ll delve into each one separately.

What Is Personal Injury?

Personal injury—first and foremost—is a factor of civil law.

They range from compensation for victims of physical accidents to social wrongs, like defamation of character and libel.

Here, the plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit is the injured person.

In extreme cases, where the injured person died due to an accident, the plaintiff can be the representative of the deceased person’s estate.

On the other hand, the defendant in a personal injury claim is the person accused of negligence that caused the injury or loss to the victim.

Sometimes, the defendant lays the blame at another party’s feet. And, in this case, that party is the cross-defendant, leading to a three-party case.

Personal Injury’s Legal Elements

There are specific elements to a personal injury case that needs to be taken into consideration.

Most of these elements differ slightly on a state-by-state basis. This is why getting a personal injury lawyer is essential to your case’s success.


Liability is a core aspect of a personal injury case, because it defines who’s at fault and to what degree in the befallen injury.

There are some cases where a jury may conclude that the plaintiff—that is the injured party—is actually at fault for their injuries, whether partially or wholly.

In Nebraska, the state uses a special rule known as modified comparative fault. This rule basically states that if the plaintiff was found to be more than 50% at fault for the injury, then they won’t recover.

In short, the compensation will be decided according to what the jury decides is the fair share of the blame. So, if that percentage is hypothetically 25% to blame on the injured party, their original compensation would be 25% short.

If it’s 50% or higher, they won’t be compensated at all.

Statutory Limitations

Depending on the state, there is a deadline for a personal injury claim to be filed from the time of an accident or social injury.

In the case of Nebraska, that would be four years from the time of the accident to submitting a claim, or you’ll lose the right to do so.

The Burden of Proof

As personal injuries are under the civil law umbrella, the burden of proof is considered low in comparison to criminal cases.

The focus in personal injury cases is compensation for the plaintiff to help them recover their losses or injuries.

So in order for the plaintiff to receive compensation, the plaintiff needs to show that the defendant acted negligently.

What’s Negligence in a Personal Injury Case?

This brings us to one of the main factors that can make or break a personal injury case.

Personal injuries can be caused in numerous ways, including motor vehicle accidents, defective products, and professional malpractice.

Cases of personal injuries all follow the concept of negligence. Personal injuries are tried under civil law because these injuries weren’t intentionally inflicted upon the victim. If they were, then it would be a criminal case.

Negligence has specific elements, and for the plaintiff to win their case, they need to prove some of those factors:

  • The defendant owed a duty of care
  • The accused party failed to meet their duty of care
  • The direct cause of your injuries or losses are due to the actions of the party at fault

Now, these elements may vary slightly according to jurisdiction and the case’s circumstances, but at its core, negligence is about failing to do everything in our power to avoid accidents or causing harm to others.

Personal Injury Compensations

In general, damages that occur in personal injury cases are classified as either economic or non-economic.

Economic damages are exactly as they sound: they’re quantifiable damages that the jury can easily gage in numbers formats like medical bills, rehabilitation costs, and lost wages.

However, non-economic damages are a bit tough to value in numerical terms.

In the case of pain and suffering due to medical malpractice, things can be tricky, so usually states would put a cap on specific causes of personal injury and would leave others like compensations due to auto accidents wide open.

What Is Bodily Injury?

Let’s move to the other main terminology: bodily injuries.

Bodily injuries are rather different from personal injuries, as they deal with the specifics of injuries to a person’s actual physical body that has been caused by another person.

Usually, these types of cases fall under criminal law and are seen as criminal cases, but there is a bit of civil law when it comes to bodily injury with insurance thrown in the mix.

Bodily Injury’s Legal Elements

As we’ve stated previously, bodily injury can pop up in the cases of insurance, usually motor vehicle insurance.

The liability insurance will compensate for the injuries of other drivers, passengers, or pedestrians in cases where the insured person is the cause of the accident. This compensation will be issued for the specific bodily injury that occurred.

On the other hand, you’ll find bodily injury cases heavily featured under criminal law with no insurance elements, unlike personal injury that is strictly under civil law.

Bodily Injury Compensations

Mental pain and suffering have no place in bodily injury compensations, but they come in handy when dealing with physical injuries. The injured can claim future expenses and losses, especially if there have been severe injuries that can impact the victim’s life in the long run.

From the future loss of income to disfigurement and permanent disability, the compensation can be quite hefty.

Ready to Take Control of Your Case?

Now you know all about bodily injury vs personal injury cases, and which might be better for your situation.

But the learning never stops, so make sure to check out our Life section for more information.


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