They may sound the same, but personal injury and bodily injury are two different things on a legal level. You may hear the phrase personal injury during a civil claim, while bodily injury is more common in a criminal case. They also refer to two different types of auto insurance coverage. Understanding the difference between these two terms can help you navigate the legal process during an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit in Missouri. A personal injury attorney can explain these concepts in more detail during a free consultation.
What Is Personal Injury?
Personal injury is a type of civil lawsuit in Missouri. It is a legal remedy available to victims who have been injured by the negligent or reckless acts of others. If someone is negligent, it means that person has been careless and has injured someone else. Examples of negligence are texting while driving and failing to maintain a safe premises. Filing a personal injury claim in Missouri can result in financial compensation to make the victim whole again. This compensation can pay for the following damages:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Punitive damages
The burden of proof in a personal injury claim in Missouri is a preponderance of the evidence. This means enough evidence to prove that the defendant more likely than not caused the injuries and damages in question. A personal injury lawyer can help you with this burden of proof by collecting evidence to show that the defendant owed you a duty of care (a requirement to act in a reasonable manner), breached this duty and caused your accident.
What Is Bodily Injury?
Bodily injury is a term more commonly found in criminal law. In the criminal justice system, a bodily injury is a physical injury to a victim’s body. For example, if a physical assault caused a victim a significant bodily injury, the defendant may face harsher penalties. You may also hear the term bodily injury during your personal injury lawsuit. In this respect, bodily injury refers to the specific physical injury you suffered in the accident, such as broken bones, back injuries or lacerations. It does not refer to mental, emotional or psychological injuries.
Can Personal Injury Protection Insurance Help in a Personal or Bodily Injury?
Another main difference between personal injury and bodily injury exists within the insurance system. Personal injury protection insurance, or PIP, is a required type of auto insurance in no-fault states. In these states, drivers seek benefits from their own PIP insurance, regardless of fault for the car accident. Bodily injury liability insurance, on the other hand, pays for someone else’s losses after an accident the driver causes in a fault-based state.
Missouri is a fault state, meaning personal injury protection insurance is not mandatory. If you do have this optional type of coverage on your policy, however, it can pay for your medical bills if you suffer a personal or bodily injury in a car accident. Your PIP insurance can pay for medical costs whether you caused the accident or not. It can also pay if you were in a collision involving an uninsured or underinsured driver.
If you did not cause the car accident, you will most likely seek financial compensation from the auto insurance provider of the at-fault driver. All drivers in Missouri must carry minimum amounts of bodily injury liability insurance. The other driver’s insurance would pay for your medical bills. If you were at fault for the collision but do not have personal injury protection insurance, however, you may have to pay for your medical costs out of pocket.
For more information about a car accident insurance claim in Kansas City, as well as the difference between personal injury and bodily injury, contact an attorney in Missouri today.