You often hear the terms personal injury and bodily injury when a person gets hurt. While some people tend to use personal injury and bodily injury interchangeably, these two terms have entirely different meanings. Here’s what you need to know about the legal definitions and implications of personal and bodily injuries.
What is Personal Injury?
Personal injury is an element of civil law. A personal injury claim compensates victims of accidents or social wrongs, like defamation of character.
The plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit is the person who is injured. The defendant is the person whom the case is brought against.
In cases where an accident results in the death of the victim, the plaintiff is the representative of the deceased’s estate. The defendant in a personal injury claim is the person whose negligence caused an injury or loss to the victim. When the defendant asserts blame to another party, the other party is known as the cross-defendant.
Related: Key Terms in a Personal Injury Case
Legal Aspects of Personal Injury
In Nevada, you are required to file a personal injury claim within two years from the time of an accident. If you fail to make a claim within this statutory limitation window, you may lose the right to file a personal injury lawsuit.
The other legal issue arising from personal injury cases in Nevada is the question of liability. There are cases in which a jury may conclude that the plaintiff was partially or wholly at fault for their injuries or the accident. Nevada uses a special rule known as modified comparative negligence.
According to this legal concept, the compensation an injured person stands to receive is reduced by their share of liability for an accident. Another crucial aspect of this rule is that if the injured party is found to be more than 50 percent liable for the accident, they are no longer entitled to recover damages in the suit.
Burden of Proof
The burden of proof in a personal injury case is relatively low compared to criminal cases because these cases are focused on compensating the plaintiff for their losses or injuries. To receive compensation, the plaintiff in a personal injury case has to show that the defendant acted negligently, or did not act as a reasonable person would have in the same situation.
What Are the Elements of Negligence in a Personal Injury Claim?
Personal injuries may arise due to defective products, motor vehicle accidents, premises liability, professional malpractice, nursing home abuse, and many other incidences. In most of these cases of personal injury law, the accidents are not intentional but result from the careless or negligent actions of the defendant.
The main elements of negligence you need to prove in a personal injury claim are:
- That the party at fault owed a duty of care
- That the accused failed to meet their duty of care towards you
- That the direct cause of your losses or injuries was because of the actions of the party at fault
- That damages resulted from the at-fault party’s actions
While the legal duty of a defendant may vary depending on one’s jurisdiction and the circumstances in question, everyone is obligated to do everything in their power to avoid accidents. For example, drivers should not operate vehicles while drunk, shopping malls should have dry floor surfaces that have no debris that could cause slip and fall accidents, and manufacturers should not supply defective products. Car accidents, products liability, dog bites, and slip and fall accidents are common types of personal injury cases.
Compensation in Personal Injury Cases
The damages given in personal injury cases are classified as economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are computed based on one’s actual losses. They include medical bills, lost wages, out-of-pocket expenses, and rehabilitation costs. Non-economic damages are hard to value.
A good example of non-economic damages is pain and suffering. Nevada places caps on non-economic damages awarded in medical malpractice claims. The cap placed on non-economic damage awards in these cases is $350,000. However, there is currently no cap on non-economic damages in other types of cases, including auto accidents.
What is the average payout for a personal injury claim? That number really depends on each unique case and the injuries sustained. In general, an average personal injury settlement amount is anywhere between $3,000 and $75,000. An experienced accident injury lawyer will be able to help you get the maximum amount for your damages.
What is Bodily Injury?
Bodily injury differs from personal injury because it deals with a particular injury to the body of a person that is caused by someone else. The bodily injury definition refers to specific injuries sustained. Although this term is more commonly used for injuries in criminal cases, there are also implications of bodily injury when it comes to insurance.
Legal Aspects of Bodily Injury
A bodily injury claim typically arises in the insurance context in reference to motor vehicle insurance. For example, the Nevada bodily injury concept means you will claim medical coverage from the at-fault driver after an auto accident.
Bodily injury liability insurance compensates the injuries of other drivers, passengers, or pedestrians in cases where the insured is to blame for an accident. This compensation will be provided for the particular injury involved in the insurance claim. It is different from property damage liability coverage.
Filing a bodily injury claim:
- Breathe, and remain calm. The very first thing you should do after an auto accident has occurred is assess the situation. Ensure that everyone is okay and move everyone away from danger, if it is okay for them to be moved.
- Call the police. The police officer will help mediate communications between you and others who were involved in the accident, and he/she can route traffic and determine if intoxication was, at all, linked to the incident.
- Gather and collect documentation. Take photos of any injuries you may have sustained, and don’t forget to keep documenting them as they progress. You will also need photos of all vehicles involved. If you can, try to grab photos of the entire scene as well.
- Talk to those involved in the accident. Make sure you get a detailed list of information about each motorist. You’ll need information such as their names, phone numbers, addresses, and insurance details. Also, provide this information about yourself to the other drivers.
- Talk to Witnesses. Try to obtain information from as many witnesses as possible. Just after the wreck occurs, ask each person in the area for their names, phone numbers, and addresses.
Read More: What Should You Do After a Car Accident?
Compensation For Bodily Injury
When you suffer bodily injury, you are entitled to receive compensation for out-of-pocket expenses, lost wages, lost earning capacity, medical expenses, treatment procedures such as x-rays, therapy costs, and transport to the hospital. Although it’s possible to receive compensation for pain and suffering, this is complicated in regards to bodily injury as this is generally reserved for physical injuries.
In bodily injury cases, one can further claim future expenses and losses. These damages arise when a person has severe injuries that are likely to impact their life negatively for a long duration. Under these costs, you may receive compensation for future lost income, disfigurement, future therapy, permanent disability, and impairment. The settlement amount will depend on the severity of your injuries.
Summing it Up
Personal injury implies any type of injury sustained in accidents. These types of injuries may arise from car accidents, slip and fall accidents, defective products, or wrongful death claims.
On the other hand, bodily injury is more limited and may imply injuries sustained by another person, usually in a car accident. In an insurance context, bodily injury is a form of insurance policy that compensates victims of an accident through the at-fault party’s insurance policy.
If you find yourself in a situation where you have been injured, it’s important to retain a qualified personal injury attorney to help you navigate the complex injury law process of recovering damages. Insurance companies are well versed in different tactics to ensure they pay the lowest amount possible.
Consider hiring a lawyer who can use their expertise to get you a settlement that is commensurate with the injuries you are suffering from. Don’t jeopardize your entitlement to a just resolution; schedule your free consultation with one of our personal injury lawyers today.