There are many legal terms you may encounter as a plaintiff in a personal injury case. Understanding the industry lingo can help you make more sense of your rights as an injured accident victim. One important distinction is bodily injury vs. personal injury. Although they sound similar, they are used in very different contexts.
Criminal vs. Civil Law
The main difference between bodily injury and personal injury is where you will hear these terms. There are two different types of law: civil and criminal. The civil justice system allows an injured accident victim to recover financial compensation from a defendant to make him or her whole again after a preventable accident. The burden of proof in civil law is enough evidence to prove the defendant more likely than not responsible.
In a civil case, if a defendant is found liable, he or she will have to pay for a plaintiff’s losses. The defendant will not face criminal charges or a sentence, however. The criminal justice system, on the other hand, punishes a person for violating the law. The purpose of criminal law is to convict someone of a crime and issue a sentence to dissuade the individual from committing similar infractions in the future, such as fines or jail time. The burden of proof in criminal law is beyond a reasonable doubt.
The phrase bodily injury is used in criminal law, while personal injury is used in civil law. Bodily injury refers to the injuries sustained by a victim of a violent crime, such as physical assault or battery, in the criminal justice system. Personal injuries can refer not only to the injuries suffered by a plaintiff in a civil case, but also his or her other losses, such as medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Bodily Injury Insurance vs. Personal Injury Protection Insurance
Bodily injury insurance is a specific type of coverage that pays for the expenses of someone involved in an auto accident. The required amounts of bodily injury insurance for drivers changes according to state law. In Texas, all drivers must purchase at least $30,000 in bodily injury insurance coverage per person and $60,000 per accident.
Bodily injury liability insurance can pay for many types of bodily injuries after a car accident, including:
- Cuts and scrapes
- Deeper lacerations
- Broken bones
- Head and brain injuries
- Nerve damage
- Internal injuries
- Back, neck, and spine injuries
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Permanent disability
In Texas, the driver who caused the accident is responsible for paying for a victim’s injuries through his or her bodily injury insurance coverage. This is what is known as a fault insurance law. Depending on the extent of the bodily injuries and the coverage available, the at-fault driver’s insurance may cover all or some of the victim’s losses.
In a no-fault state, an injured victim will seek compensation through his or her personal injury protection (PIP) insurance, regardless of who caused the car accident. Personal injury protection insurance is a type of first-party coverage, meaning it will pay for the policyholder’s injuries and losses. Bodily injury liability insurance, on the other hand, covers the losses of another party. Drivers are not required to carry PIP insurance in Texas, as it is not a no-fault state.
Do You Have a Personal Injury Case?
If you were recently injured in an accident in San Antonio, Texas, you may have grounds to file a personal injury case. You might be able to bring a lawsuit against one or more parties if someone else caused or significantly contributed to your accident. You or your personal injury attorney will need proof that demonstrates the defendant’s duty of care, breach of duty, causation for your accident, and your losses. If your personal injury case exceeds, you could receive financial compensation. Learn more about personal injury law in Texas with help from a lawyer.