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What’s The Difference Between Bodily Injury and Personal Injury?

By John Miceli

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Car accidents can be complicated and tragic affairs. If they’re serious, they can spawn insurance claims and lawsuits.

Two common aspects of auto insurance that are involved after an accident are bodily injury coverage and personal injury coverage. They sound similar, but they’re very different. 

In general, bodily injury liability refers to your insurance covering the other driver’s injuries, while personal injury coverage involves your insurance helping to cover your injuries. For more information and clarification, keep reading.

Bodily Injury Liability Coverage

When you get a car, you’re required in almost every state to have car insurance. Part of your car insurance is liability insurance, which includes bodily injury liability.

If you’re deemed to be at fault in an accident, your bodily injury liability coverage can pay for the injured party’s medical expenses, loss of income, funeral expenses and more if needed. 

How much your bodily injury coverage pays out is determined by how much coverage you have and your policy maximum. The minimum amount of liability coverage you’re required to have varies by state. Also, how much you pay for your car insurance can be affected by your driving history, age and a few other factors.

What Happens During a Bodily Injury Claim?

So, if you’ve been injured in a crash that was the other driver’s fault, the other driver’s bodily injury liability should cover you, no matter who files the claim. Calculating how much you’re going to receive for your bodily injury claim can be tricky.

The other party’s insurance provider will look at your medical costs (hospital bills, rehabilitation bills, treatment costs) and lost income that was directly caused by the accident. Then, general pain, suffering and emotional distress can be factored in. This varies from case to case and can seem subjective.

Also, it’s important to remember that bodily injury liability only covers medical expenses. It doesn’t cover car or property damage to either party caused by the wreck. For that, you’ll need to turn to the property damage portion of liability insurance or your full coverage insurance.

Personal Injury In a Car Accident

If no one is at fault in the accident, or you live in a “no-fault” state, then bodily injury liability coverage won’t be a factor at all. Instead, you’ll have to look to your own personal injury protection, often called PIP, with your own insurance company to compensate you after an accident.

PIP is a required part of auto insurance in 16 states (Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Utah), including all 12 no-fault states. 

So, if you’re injured in a car accident, no matter who caused it, you’ll look to collect from your own insurer if you live in one of the aforementioned states. The idea behind PIP is that claims and lawsuits against other drivers are kept to a minimum.

PIP covers direct costs as a result of the accident, like your medical expenses and lost wages. It also covers you if you were a passenger in an accident, too. 

PIP and Personal Injury Examples

If you have PIP and you’re injured in a crash that was no one’s fault or your own fault, your PIP should cover you up to your policy limit. An example of this could be if you hit a mailbox due to driving carelessly, or if a suddenly fallen tree branch causes you to veer into a fence.

But, what if you were injured in a car accident caused by someone else and you have PIP. Let’s say someone rear-ends you while you were sitting still at a stop sign. Your PIP should still cover you up to your policy’s limit. If that isn’t enough, the other driver’s bodily injury liability could kick in to cover the rest.

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