When you learn the number of people that seek treatment for accidental injuries in the US every year, you realize that it is entirely possible to become a victim in a mere moment. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around 23.8 million people visit hospital emergency rooms annually because of unintentional injuries, many of which were preventable. For these victims, life will never be the same as they suffer physical, emotional, and financial harm. If you were hurt under such circumstances, you will be relieved to know that you have legal remedies to recover compensation for these losses.
However, as you consider your options, you might run into a critical hurdle: Understanding the difference between bodily injury and personal injury, since both concepts play a role in the legal process. Unless you have a background in law, you might use them interchangeably to your detriment. You can avoid this mistake and protect your rights by working with a Conyers, GA accident injury lawyer, but an overview of bodily injury versus personal injury may be helpful.
Basic Difference Between Bodily Injury and Personal Injury
You can best appreciate the distinction between these concepts by breaking down the terminology. Bodily injury refers to the physical harm and effects of an accident, such as broken bones, strains, sprains, traumatic brain injury (TBI), and spinal cord injuries. Personal injury is a more expansive concept, which may include physical injuries as well as mental and emotional implications. This term often refers to the legal action which stems from an accident, i.e., a personal injury lawsuit.
It is important to not confuse bodily and personal injury with other contexts that these terms may come into play.
- Bodily injury is a type of liability insurance coverage. For instance, Georgia auto insurance laws require motorists to carry at least $25,000 for a single victim and $50,000 per accident.
- Another type of auto insurance coverage is personal injury protection (PIP), which pays medical costs and lost wages regardless of fault. PIP is not required in Georgia, but some motorists carry it for extra assurance in a crash.
- Bodily injury can be an element in a criminal case, such as aggravated assault.
Types Of Personal Injury Claims
As a legal practice area, the concept of personal injury covers any situation where someone’s careless acts cause harm to another individual. Examples of personal injury claims include:
- Car accidents;
- Truck crashes;
- Motorcycle and scooter collisions;
- Pedestrian and bicycle accidents; and
- Slip and falls, trips, and other incidents that occur because of dangerous conditions on property.
In addition, keep in mind that wrongful death actions also fall under the umbrella of personal injury. Many of the same concepts apply even when the victim is killed rather than merely being injured.
Liability In Accident Cases
Once you understand that personal injury is a type of lawsuit, you should grasp what is required to recover compensation. While some claims are based upon intentional torts, negligence is the applicable standard in most personal injury cases. The four essential elements you need to prove are:
- The responsible party had a duty to exercise reasonable care, so as to not cause a risk of harm to others;
- That person or entity breached this legal duty by engaging in unsafe acts or omissions;
- The breach of duty was the direct cause of the accident that led to your injuries; and
- You suffered losses as a result of being hurt.
Understanding The Legal Process In Accident Cases
Contrary to popular assumption, your first step usually involves filing a claim with an insurance company. Motorists, business and property owners, and other entities carry liability insurance to protect against accidental losses. In some situations, you might be able to resolve your claim by settling with the insurer. However, it is important to note that these companies look out for their own financial interests, not yours. An insurance company may deny your claim, citing such reasons as:
- Your injuries were not that severe;
- The insured’s policyholder was not at fault; or
- You were wholly or partly responsible for causing the accident.
Under the circumstances, you may need to take the next step by filing a lawsuit in court. Under Georgia’s statute of limitations, it is critical to note the two-year deadline. If you do not sue before the time limit expires, you cannot recover monetary damages for your losses.
How These Concepts Work In An Accident Claim
Multiple types of compensation are available in personal injury cases, and bodily injury ties into the amount you may be able to recover through an insurance claim or lawsuit. By proving the above four essential elements, victims may be entitled to:
- Economic Damages: This category of compensation refers to definite and out-of-pocket expenses related to an accident. For instance, you may obtain amounts for your medical bills, lost wages, and transportation costs to doctor’s visits.
- Non-Economic Damages: Other losses are not quantifiable by dollar value, but you most certainly endure hardship after being injured. This class of damages includes pain and suffering, emotional distress, diminished quality of life, and losses that affect your personal relationships.
There are also damages available for surviving family members in a wrongful death lawsuit, based upon the losses they suffer from their loved one’s passing.
Set Up A Consultation With Our Georgia Accident Injury Attorneys
As you can see, the differences between bodily injury and personal injury are crucial if you are the victim of an accident. Each has a specific meaning, yet you need in-depth knowledge of both concepts if you are seeking monetary damages for your losses. Because of the many challenges you could encounter, it is wise to count on our team at MG Law to assist with the legal process. To learn more about your rights and remedies, please contact us to set up a free consultation at our offices in Conyers, Covington, or Atlanta, GA. Once we review your situation, we can explain the laws and advise you on your options.