What is the Difference Between a Bodily Injury and Personal Injury?

As of October 2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that an average of three million people are nonfatally injured in motor accidents each year. Though this number is unbelievably high, it is still not representative of the extent to which these injuries impact people’s lives, often permanently. 

If you have become one of these three million victims, you have the right to take legal action and pursue compensation. When you exercise this right, you must know precisely the type of damages you need to request to ensure you are offered the appropriate award or settlement. This knowledge requires a clear understanding of the differences between a personal injury and a bodily injury. 

What Constitutes a Bodily Injury?

In a car accident, you may be exposed to a wide variety of physical injuries. These wounds often take the form of lacerations, fractures or sprains, or traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). Because all these conditions specifically impact your physical condition, rather than your psychological or emotional state or any of your property, they are known as “bodily injuries.” Discuss your expectations with a traumatic brain injury attorney so that he or she understands your needs.

The amount of compensation you deserve will differ dramatically based on the types of injuries you incur. For example, a concussion may not be as long-lasting or as disruptive as a severed extremity or broken spine. The latter conditions are guaranteed to alter the course of an individual’s life, and thus, require greater compensation for medical care, wage compensation, and more. However, the former is likely to be temporary, and so requires only a finite period of medical care. 

Bodily injuries can be challenging to resolve, as these claims are dependent on extensive medical documentation and may require a medical expert’s testimony in court. Further, symptoms do not arise immediately after the crash, so you may be unaware of your condition’s severity until long after the date of the incident. For this reason, you must work closely with your lawyer to ensure you remain in compliance with your state’s statute of limitations.

Definition of a Personal Injury

The term “personal injury” is far more all-encompassing than “bodily injury.” Instead of being restricted to only the physical impacts of the crash, you can file a claim for emotional and psychological harm and damage to your overall well-being. Examples of this include: 

  • Pain and suffering
  • Lost wages or reduced earning capacity
  • Loss of consortium


  • Wrongful death

Personal injury claims can be quite challenging to settle as well, due to the intangible nature of the injuries. Not only can they be difficult to prove, but difficulties may arise in determining the value of your compensation in such cases. However, your personal injury lawyer will assist you in collecting evidence such as witness testimonies from family and friends, as well as psychiatric documentation detailing your condition. 

As you can see, both bodily injury and personal injury cases come with a unique set of challenges. Though they can be exhausting for victims, the process can be made significantly easier with a lawyer’s help. If you have recently been injured in an accident, either physically, emotionally, or psychologically, get in touch with a lawyer today.