What Is the Difference Between Bodily Injury and Personal Injury?
Gregg Hollander | October 10, 2022 | Personal Injury
Bodily injury and personal injury may sound the same. However, these terms have very different meanings when discussing damages in a personal injury claim, such as a car accident claim.
Personal injury is any injury sustained because of an accident or other instance. The injury includes damage to a person’s physical, mental, or emotional health. Therefore, it can include physical injuries, emotional distress, and mental anguish.
On the other hand, bodily injury refers specifically to physical injuries to a person’s body. The injuries may be minor, such as cuts, sprains, or abrasions. However, it also includes catastrophic injuries, such as traumatic brain damage, amputation, and spinal cord injury.
The distinction is important in motor vehicle accident cases in a no-fault insurance state like Florida.
Differences in Liability Insurance and Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Insurance
Florida requires all drivers to carry a minimum amount of Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance coverage. PIP coverage pays for the medical bills and loss of income for accident victims, regardless of who caused the car crash.
Therefore, if another driver runs a red light and crashes into your vehicle, you file a claim with your PIP insurance company. PIP covers 80% of your medical bills and 60% of lost wages up to the $10,000 policy limit.
However, PIP coverage is limited to bodily injury. Therefore, you cannot recover money for your emotional distress or mental anguish. Furthermore, you are limited to $2,500 in benefits unless you sustain injuries that require emergency medical attention.
On the other hand, liability insurance coverage pays for losses related to bodily injuries. It also compensates accident victims for damages caused by emotional and mental injury.
However, Florida insurance laws only permit accident victims to sue an at-fault driver for damages if they sustain serious injuries.
Serious injuries are defined by Florida law as injuries resulting in death or permanent impairment. Furthermore, Florida does not require drivers to carry liability insurance. Therefore, the other driver might not have insurance to pay your damages, even though you sustained serious injuries.
What Damages Can I Claim for Personal Injury?
Prompt medical attention after a car accident gives you the best chance of making a full recovery. It also helps with a car accident claim. You must document your bodily injuries so that you can prove the car accident caused your injuries.
Damages in a personal injury case generally fall into two categories: economic and non-economic damages. Both types of damages are compensatory damages, meaning the money received from the at-fault party reimburses or compensates you for losses.
Economic damages are the monetary losses related to the injury. They can include:
- The cost and expense of diagnosing and treating bodily injuries
- The loss of income if you cannot work because of your injuries
- Out-of-pocket expenses and personal care
- Diminished earning capacity and future lost wages
- Long-term nursing care and ongoing medical bills
Non-economic damages relate to the pain and suffering you experience because of the accident and your injuries. They can include:
- Mental anguish and trauma
- Physical suffering and pain
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Impairments and disabilities
- Disfigurement and scarring
- A decrease in quality of life
In a few cases, accident victims might receive punitive damages. However, these damages are not meant to compensate the victim for losses, though the victim does still receive them. Instead, a jury awards punitive damages to “punish” a defendant for specific types of conduct.
Punitive damages are rare. To receive punitive damages, the victim has a higher burden of proving that the defendant’s conduct met the requirement for an award.
How Much Are My Damages Worth In a Personal Injury Case?
It is impossible to put a price on how much a person suffers because of a bodily injury. You can add up the financial losses to calculate the value of economic damages. Still, there is no standard formula or amount we use to calculate the value of non-economic damages.
An experienced West Palm Beach personal injury lawyer can help. Accident attorneys understand how to value damages. Factors that impact the value of damages include:
- The severity and type of bodily injuries
- The duration of the person’s recovery
- Whether the person had pre-existing conditions, failed to mitigate damages, or contributed to the cause of their injury
- The presence of significant scarring or disfigurement
- Whether the person sustained a permanent disability or impairment
- The strength of the evidence proving the other party caused the injury
- The availability of liability insurance coverage
A personal injury attorney may hire medical specialists and financial experts to assist with valuation, especially when the person has sustained a permanent injury. Money does not undo the damages caused by a negligent person, but it can provide the financial means for a person to get their life back to normal as best as possible after a tragic accident.
Contact Our Personal Injury Law Firm in South Florida
If you’ve been injured in an accident, please contact our experienced personal injury lawyers in Florida at Hollander Law Firm Accident Injury Lawyers to schedule a free consultation today. We have three convenient locations in Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach.
We proudly serve Palm Beach County, Broward County, and its surrounding areas:
Hollander Law Firm Accident Injury Lawyers – Boca Raton Law Office
7000 W Palmetto Park Rd #500
Boca Raton, FL 33433
Hollander Law Firm Accident Injury Lawyers – Fort Lauderdale Law Office
200 S.E. 6th Street #203
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301
Hollander Law Firm Accident Injury Lawyers – West Palm Beach Law Office
319 Clematis St #203
West Palm Beach, FL 33401