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What Is The Difference Between Bodily Injury and Personal Injury?

When most people see the terms “bodily injury” and “personal injury,” they likely think that they are one and the same. However, we need to point out that these two terms are used in different ways when it comes to various aspects of criminal law and personal injury law.

Here, we want to review the difference between personal injury and bodily injury, particularly how this could affect the case you are involved in. We think that you will find that the context in which these terms are used is important.

Criminal Versus Civil Court Processes

Terms personal injury and bodily injury are often used differently depending on the type of court case we are talking about. There is a difference between criminal court processes and civil court processes when it comes to injuries. When we look at the criminal court system, this is where we see people facing charges brought by law enforcement officials and prosecutors. The goal of the criminal court system is to determine whether or not a person is guilty or innocent of a particular charge and then assign sentencing if a conviction occurs.

We often see the term “bodily injury” arise in criminal court cases to reference the actions that one person took to harm another. Specifically, many charges refer to bodily injury in California statutes.

The term “personal injury” is a phrase we will find often use in civil court cases. Personal injury lawsuits arise anytime the careless or negligent actions of one person cause harm to another. In these cases, injury victims can file lawsuits in civil court in an attempt to recover the compensation they are entitled to.

Bodily Injury and Insurance Policies

We do see the term “bodily injury” come up in the realm of personal injury matters, particularly when we look at auto insurance requirements for the state of California. All vehicle drivers in this state must carry and maintain a certain amount of insurance to remain legal on the roadway:

  • Bodily injury liability coverage: $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident minimum
  • Property damage liability coverage: $5,000 minimum

When we look at these required coverages, we can see that bodily injury liability is required. This type of coverage helps cover the injury expenses in an accident caused by the insured party.

Victims Secure Compensation Through Personal Injury Lawsuits

Personal injury claims are a way for victims to recover compensation for injuries caused by the actions of another individual. These cases arise in various ways throughout California, and they will not necessarily have anything to do with criminal actions. Some of the most common ways that personal injury cases arise include vehicle accidents, faulty products, dog bite incidents, slip and fall accidents, and more. Personal injury victims often are able to recover the following:

  • Complete coverage of their medical bills
  • Lost income if they cannot work
  • General household out-of-pocket expenses
  • Property damage expenses
  • Pain and suffering damages

When we are talking about bodily injury cases pertaining to issues in criminal court, we need to point out that victims typically do not recover compensation from the at-fault party unless they also file personal injury lawsuits against the person responsible for their injuries, and working with a Mission Viejo personal injury attorney can help.