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  • Writer's pictureKenneth Powell

Personal Injury VS Bodily Injury: What Is the Difference?

Updated: Feb 24, 2022

If a person suffers harm in an accident or incident that was not their fault, the phrases personal injury and bodily injury may come up in the aftermath. At first, the two may seem interchangeable, but they are not.

This breakdown of the two terms hopes to provide clients with a better understanding of what they each mean in general and from a legal standpoint.

Difference between personal and bodily injury

The Difference: A Brief Overview

Personal injury is a legal claim against somebody who has caused harm, whereas bodily injury describes the damage inflicted in detail. Bodily injury could classify as evidence. It could be of use in a personal injury lawsuit against a company or individual. However, it is more common in criminal cases.

Personal Injury Explained

After a person sustains an injury, or is otherwise harmed in events beyond their control, it is usual practice to contact St Louis personal injury attorneys. If they decide to pursue a civil claim, it is likely to include a personal injury lawsuit. A claim like this is made against the person or company that the plaintiff holds responsible for the damage.

Some case examples of what could be classed as personal injury include:

  • A workplace accident that is not the fault of the employee

  • Injury in a public place due to a wet floor, poor signage, or other insufficient care

  • Medical malpractice against a doctor or other health professional (also nursing home care violations)

  • Car accident claims against the person who caused the incident, possibly a drunk driver

  • Wrongful death claims

  • Injury as a result of a faulty product or machine

Bodily Injury Explained

Bodily injury is not a type of legal claim. It is a term used to describe the harm one person has inflicted on another. In criminal cases, often assault, bodily injury is described as part of the case, but it is not the case itself. Any lawsuit where someone has been hurt is likely to include bodily injury as part of the evidence.

Examples of when bodily injury could come up are:

  • An assault or battery charge

  • When claiming for medical expenses

  • During a personal injury claim

  • Domestic abuse cases

Additionally, some insurance policies include bodily injury coverage. What that means is that, to a certain extent, any physical harm that comes to a person is covered automatically by insurance without having to go to court. Although it does not guarantee against a lawsuit being filed, it does provide some relief in minor situations.

To give an example, if somebody sustained a small injury at work because of a faulty machine, the company could be liable. If the company's employee insurance policy covered bodily injury, the costs could be met and settled without stepping a foot inside the courtroom. Without it, the employee could sue the company for personal injury. Doing so for something insignificant could be considered a great expense of both time and money, which is where bodily harm insurance comes in useful.

Additionally, people harmed in a motor accident may prefer to turn to bodily injury insurance to cover the medical costs rather than go through the process of suing the other party.

Bodily injury insurance can also provide short-term cover if somebody is unable to work due to an injury sustained. It can pay, or reimburse, medical fees, transport costs, and other out-of-pocket expenses up to the policy’s maximum limit.


Sustaining any form of physical harm in an incident or accident is a difficult time for anyone- especially if they are not the one at fault. Understanding the legal terms that are often used in the event following the incident is essential to staying informed.

Personal injury and bodily injury may run along the same lines, but they refer to very different things. To recap:

  • Personal injury = A legal claim against a company or individual

  • Bodily injury = Description of harm sustained, or a type of insurance

Powell Law Firm provides clear and concise legal information for those in need of assistance. Suffering bodily injury or going through the proceeding of a personal injury case should not be made more difficult by complicated legal advice.

At Powell Law Firm, the client's story comes first. Keeping those clients well informed is also a top priority.


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