Bodily injury and personal injury have similar meanings but different uses and connotations. The term “bodily injury” refers only to physical pain or impairment, while “personal injury” refers to both physical and mental injuries. This article will provide more details about what the difference is between bodily injury and personal injury, and what your legal rights are in each case.
Understanding the Difference Between Bodily Injury and Personal Injury
According to 23 Pa. C.S.A. §2301, bodily injury is any injury that causes the victim physical damage or pain. The injury may be caused by a crime, such as kidnapping or sexual assault, or by negligent or reckless behavior, such as a company refusing to take action despite knowing their product is potentially harmful.
The term may describe either an injury or an illness. For example, if your employer deliberately exposes you to a toxic substance, and you develop cancer as a result, the employer has caused you bodily harm.
In short, any physical damage to a human being may be described as bodily harm.
The American Bar Association defines personal injury as any damage to a person, as opposed to property. This may include physical harm, as with bodily injury, or mental harm, like trauma or a psychiatric disorder that was caused or worsened by your injury. In this sense, the definition of “personal injury” is broader than that of “bodily injury.”
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Causes and Consequences of Personal Injuries
“Personal injury” also has a second meaning. It is also used to describe the type of lawsuit you can file after suffering a personal or bodily injury. Personal injury lawsuits may be prompted by:
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Slip, trip, and fall accidents
- Falling objects
- Defective products
- Medical error or malpractice
- Dog bites
Examples of liable parties in a personal injury case include:
- A driver who failed to follow road rules
- An employer who did not provide employees with proper protection or training
- A doctor who gave you inappropriate or substandard care
- A manufacturing company whose faulty product caused your injury
- A property owner or manager who failed to keep their property safe for visitors
- A dog owner who did not train or properly restrain their pet
If you know who the responsible party is in your case, you may sue them for compensation. If you do not know or are unsure of who the responsible party is, you can hire a lawyer to investigate your case.
You May Be Able to Receive Compensation After a Personal Injury
Even if your injury was not caused by criminal behavior, you still have to deal with the consequences. Your injuries may cause you pain or require expensive medical treatments. On top of that, if you cannot work, you might be worried about how you will pay your bills and support your family.
If this is the case for you, you may have legal options. You may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the person or organization responsible for your injury. In the lawsuit, you may ask for compensation for:
- Medical treatments, including medical-related travel expenses
- Lost wages, if you had to take time off from work and could not earn money
- Lost earning capacity, if your injuries prevent you from earning as much as before
- Other related expenses, including things like childcare or lawncare, which you used to do yourself but now cannot
These losses all fall under economic damages because they reflect financial harm done to you and your family.
You may also ask for money to compensate you for nonfinancial, or noneconomic, damages that you suffered because of your personal injury. Noneconomic damages may include:
- Pain and suffering, including both physical and psychological anguish
- Disfigurement, if your injuries left permanent scars or marks
- Disability, if you lost use or partial use of any body part or function
- Reduced quality of life, if you now find it more difficult to move through and participate in the world
Now that you know what the difference is between bodily injury and personal injury, you can start thinking about what, if any, legal action you want to take. A law firm representative can provide more detailed definitions of each term and tell you what the legal options are in your case.
If you live in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, or a surrounding area, call the office of Berger and Green at (412) 661-1400.