Is there any difference between bodily injury vs personal injury? While the two terms are used interchangeably, the law considers bodily injury to be different than personal injury. 


To understand the difference, you have to understand who it is that is using the terms and in what context they’re being used.

What is a Personal Injury?

Personal injury lawsuits are also called tort lawsuits. A plaintiff accuses a defendant of negligence


Personal injuries can include bodily injuries but are not limited to them. Filing a personal injury claim against another individual means that the plaintiff is accusing the defendant of some injury that cost them socially, financially, or physically.


These can include things like car accident and slip and fall accident lawsuits, but they also include charges of defamation, slander, or libel. 

What is Bodily Injury?

Bodily injury is more specific under the law and can be found in more legal contexts than personal injury. In a personal injury context, it arises mostly from insurance claims and means that a defendant would be expected to compensate you for medical expenses (at the very least). 


As an example, anyone with auto insurance knows that their insurance policy covers both damage to the other vehicle and bodily injury to its driver. Technically, however, both of these are personal injury claims.

Getting Compensation for Bodily Injury

A claim for bodily injury avails you to receive damages for:


  • Medical expenses related to the injury 
  • Any out-of-pocket expenses related to the injury
  • Any lost wages that result from the injury
  • Lost earning capacity or loss of employability
  • Pain and suffering relating to bodily injury

Bodily Injury in Other Legal Contexts

Bodily injury is also an element of criminal law. For instance, how severely an individual is charged for a DUI may depend on the extent of the injuries they caused to another driver. Those who cause severe bodily injury may be charged with a much higher crime than those who don’t.

Negligence in a Bodily Injury Claim

Negligence in a bodily injury claim works the same way that it would in a personal injury claim. You must be able to prove three elements to show that an individual is liable for their negligence in either a personal injury or a bodily injury claim. Those three elements are:


  • They owed you a duty of care
  • They failed in that duty of care
  • Your injuries resulted from that failure


When it comes to car accidents, establishing that a defendant owed a plaintiff a duty of care is fairly easy. Each state devotes a portion of its legal code to defining the rules of the road, right of way, and obedience to signs. Those who violate the rules of the road have failed in their duty of care to other drivers. If injuries result from that failure, then they are liable and must compensate the plaintiff.

The Bottom Line

Personal injury is a more generic term than bodily injury, which specifies the type of personal injury sustained in an accident. Personal injuries need not necessarily be physical injuries. In some contexts, emotional or psychological injuries can also be considered “bodily”. Is this confusing? Probably. Do you need to understand it to receive compensation in your car accident claim? No. But it helps to have some idea what the law is so you can be of more assistance to your lawyer when litigating your case.

Talk to a Traffic Accident Attorney Today

If you’ve been injured by another driver’s negligence, the attorneys at Brylak Law can handle your case and recover the highest settlement possible given the circumstances. Call today to schedule a free consultation.