What Is The Difference Between Bodily Injury and Personal Injury?

If the careless, negligent, or intentional actions of somebody else have caused harm to you or a family member, there is a good chance that you will be able to recover compensation. You have also probably heard two terms that may seem similar – “bodily injury” and “personal injury.”

Admittedly, these two terms seem like they mean the same thing. However, the reality is that the terms personal injury and bodily injury have different meanings depending on the context they are used in. Here, we want to discuss the difference between bodily injury and personal injury, where these two terms crop up when it comes to injury claims and some other information you need to know about recovering compensation if somebody else causes an injury to you or your family.

These Terms in Criminal Court Versus Civil Court

When discussing injuries, we want to point out that there is a pretty big difference between criminal courts and civil courts in Illinois. It is not uncommon to hear the phrase “bodily injury” when it comes to criminal cases throughout this state. In fact, the words “bodily injury” appear regularly throughout various criminal statutes, usually in reference to one person causing harm to another person during the commission of a crime.

The term “personal injury” is regularly used in the civil court system, particularly when it comes to personal injury lawsuits. For example, if one person is injured due to the careless or negligent actions of another individual, the injury victim will typically be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party in order to recover compensation.

In criminal proceedings involving bodily injuries, the goal of the case is not to ensure that the victim receives monetary compensation. Criminal cases involving bodily injury are designed to set forth some sort of statutory punishment against the defendant. In civil court proceedings, if a plaintiff is successful against the defendant, they will very likely be entitled to various types of compensation for their losses.

Car Insurance Policies Have Bodily Injury Coverage

There is one area where we see the term “bodily injury” commonly mingled with what most people consider civil personal injury issues – vehicle insurance. In Illinois, all drivers are required to carry and maintain the following types and minimums when it comes to vehicle insurance:

  • Bodily injury liability coverage: Minimum $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident
  • Property damage liability coverage: Minimum $20,000
  • Uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage: Minimum $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident

When looking through these insurance requirements, we can see that the term “bodily injury” occurs twice. All drivers must have maintained bodily injury liability coverage. This type of coverage is designed to pay for any injury and associated expenses caused by the insured driver if they are at fault in an accident. In this state, the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier is responsible for covering the injury expenses of any other driver or passenger that may be involved in the incident.

Additionally, the state of Illinois requires drivers to carry uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage. This type of coverage is in place to help pay for the injury expenses of any person involved in a crash caused by an uninsured driver.

What is Included in a Vehicle Accident Bodily Injury Claim?

There is often confusion about what can be paid for out of a vehicle accident bodily injury policy. There are various types of expenses that this coverage may pay after a crash occurs, including the following:

  • Medical bills
  • Any needed surgical care
  • Physical therapy or rehabilitation
  • Medical devices such as crutches, wheelchairs, or walkers
  • Lost income if a victim cannot work
  • Legal fees if the injured party takes the at-fault party to court

Bodily injury coverage in Illinois will help pay for the expenses of any party due to the actions of the insured driver. This can include the passengers and drivers of other vehicles as well as any other party that may be involved in an accident, including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists, etc.

Bodily Injuries Could Lead to a Personal Injury Lawsuit

A bodily injury could very well lead to a personal injury lawsuit. The vast majority of injury claims are resolved through settlements with insurance carriers. This includes vehicle accident cases that involve bodily injuries. However, if an insurance carrier denies a claim or refuses to offer a fair settlement amount, it may be necessary for the injured person to file a lawsuit against the alleged negligent party.

When a lawsuit is filed, the case will officially enter the Illinois civil court system, where it could end up being heard in front of a jury trial. However, even after a case is filed in the Illinois civil court system, it is not uncommon for both parties to reach a settlement before a trial becomes necessary.

What is the Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Claims in Illinois

In any injury case, the injury victim must understand that they have a limited amount of time to file a lawsuit in order to recover the compensation they need. The Illinois personal injury statute of limitations is two years from the date the injury occurred. This means that an injury victim has a two-year window with which to file a lawsuit against the person who allegedly caused their injury, or they will not be able to recover any compensation at all.

Do you Need a Personal Injury Attorney?

If you or somebody you care about has sustained a bodily injury as a result of the careless or negligent actions of someone else, you may need to file a personal injury lawsuit in order to recover compensation. These cases can become fraught with complications, but a skilled personal injury attorney in Chicago can use their resources and legal expertise to fully investigate the case and help determine liability. An attorney will handle all negotiations with insurance carriers and other parties in an effort to reach a fair settlement agreement. However, an attorney will also be ready to take the case to trial if necessary to ensure their client is treated fairly.