The terms personal injury and bodily injury frequently appear in insurance industry language, particularly in relation to commercial general liability policies. Bodily injury covers expenses related to an individual’s physical injuries, such as medical fees, lost wages, and funeral costs.
A personal injury claim, on the other hand, covers a wide range of damages including those that are not necessarily physical, such as depriving someone of their liberty or damaging their reputation. The difference between these two claims is important for small businesses to understand.
Defining Bodily Injury
Bodily injury, as it pertains to insurance coverage, involves physical harm that occurs to a person. This includes bruises, sprains, cuts, broken bones and even nerve damage.
These injuries can result in medical expenses, which are considered to be an economic loss and can be accounted for in terms of monetary depletion. Additionally, bodily injury coverage can cover legal fees and loss of income if the injured party has to take time off from work due to their accident-related care.
In the case of an accident that results in fatal bodily injury, a policy’s bodily injury limit will typically pay for funeral costs and other related losses. As a business owner, knowing the difference between personal injury and bodily injury can help you determine new safety policies and procedures or whether your business requires more in-depth liability coverage. The technical differences between these 2 types of claims may seem small, but they are important to understand.
Defining Personal Injury
Bodily injury is usually referenced in criminal cases (like aggravated assault, for instance), while personal injury is typically used to refer to costs suffered due to an accident or wrongful death. However, in some cases, the terms are interchangeable and often mean the same thing.
If you file a claim for personal injury damages, you must be able to prove the defendant owed you a duty of care and breached this duty by acting negligently or recklessly. You must also be able to establish causation and prove that the breach was directly responsible for your injuries and other damages.
This type of tort lawsuit is called a “personal injury claim,” and it’s the most common legal claim filed against businesses. In fact, if your business has commercial general liability insurance, it likely covers both bodily and personal injury claims. Understanding the difference between these two types of claims can help you determine if your business needs new safety policies or more in-depth coverage.
Defining Economic Damages
Expenses such as medical bills, property damage, lost wages from missed work and future expenses that will impact the victim in the long run are considered economic damages. These losses are typically documented with receipts and other objective documentation.
Non-economic damages are harder to quantify. These include pain and suffering, disfigurement, loss of companionship/companionship and emotional distress, among other things. Non-economic damages are not based on a dollar value and cannot be tied to any particular cost.
The term bodily injury may also be referenced in criminal cases when describing the harm someone suffers as a result of another person’s actions. Personal injury, however, is commonly used in civil claims and refers to all the costs incurred after an accident, including both economic and non-economic damages. Punitive damages are a separate type of compensation that can be awarded in certain instances. These are intended to punish the defendant rather than compensate the injured victim for their losses.
Defining Non-Economic Damages
When someone sues the person responsible for their injuries, they are seeking monetary compensation. This compensation is broken down into two types: economic and non-economic damages.
Items that can be proven with bills and receipts are known as economic damages. Examples include hospital bills, medication costs and physical therapy fees. In some cases, lost earnings can also be awarded. These calculations factor in the amount of time missed from work, the impact of the injury on your career trajectory and the future earning potential you were able to achieve prior to the accident.
Non-economic damages are more difficult to measure. An experienced attorney is able to use specific formulas to place a monetary value on pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, mental harm, disfigurement and other subjective losses. They may also consider the impact on family members if a loved one has died in an accident. For example, spouses can claim for the loss of companionship and support they’ve suffered because of a loved one’s death.