Defining Bodily Injury in Legal Terms

What is bodily injury? In the context of personal injury cases, the legal definition of bodily injury is the physical injuries sustained by someone in an accident. When you define bodily injury, you are not referring to the legal claim. You are discussing the specific injuries, such as broken bones, a TBI, disfigurement, paralysis, or other conditions, that happened due to the accident.

It's important to note that the term ‘body injury’ has a different meaning in the context of your insurance coverage. With your insurance policy, bodily injury compensates injured victims through the at-fault party’s policy. It broadly describes both the physical injuries and the policy itself.

Various Types of Bodily Injuries

Physical injury lawsuits can arise in a variety of contexts, so it makes sense that many different types of bodily injuries can occur in these situations. Here are just a few of the most common bodily injury examples that wind up leading to legal claims:

  • traumatic brain injuries;
  • spinal injuries;
  • paralysis;
  • sprains, strains, and fractures;
  • burns;
  • animal bites;
  • cuts;
  • broken bones;
  • internal bleeding;
  • neck injuries;
  • disfigurement;
  • whiplash.

This list is far from comprehensive. Any type of physical injury, damage, or condition you develop as a result of an accident would be considered a bodily injury.

Bodily Injury in Civil and Criminal Law

Under civil personal injury law, bodily injury liability will arise when one party’s negligence causes the accident that leads to the injury. Under the law, negligence arises when:

  • One party has a legal duty to provide for the care and safety of someone else.
  • The responsible party fails to uphold that duty of care.

A legal duty of care exists in multiple situations. Drivers have an automatic duty of care towards everyone else on the road. Property owners owe a duty of care towards individuals they invite onto their property. Businesses owe a duty of care toward customers, and product manufacturers owe a duty of care to those who buy their products.

Civil laws are put into place to ensure that financial justice is served, and criminal laws are put into place to punish the offender. Under criminal law, bodily injury is defined as a physical condition that causes impairment or substantial pain. “Serious” bodily injury is a further classification that defines a type of injury that leads to a substantial risk of death or that causes a fatality or permanent disfigurement.

Compensation and Damages

When you get into an accident that leads to physical harm and the incident was someone else’s fault, then you can leverage personal injury laws to file for compensation to cover the expenses associated with your accident and injury. To file a successful claim, you need to prove that the other party had a legal duty of care, failed to uphold that duty, caused your accident, and then prove the extent of your losses.

If you can back up these claims with solid proof, then you will be able to recover compensation for your medical bills and expenses. These expenses could include losses in the form of lost income, property damage, emotional distress, or other damages.

Seeking Legal Help for Bodily Injury Cases

When you suffer from a bodily injury as a result of an accident that someone else caused, you could have legal recourse if a legal duty of care existed. In order to better determine your options after an accident, it usually makes the most sense to discuss what happened with local personal injury attorneys.

A personal injury attorney is well-versed in civil liability laws in your area. They can help you determine your legal options based on the facts surrounding your case and who might be potentially liable.

From there, an attorney will help you build up your case by collecting evidence, compiling proof of your claims, documenting your losses, valuing your losses, and proving why the other party should be held responsible. Your lawyer will also help with the negotiation process, too.

Glossary and Further Resources

Bodily Injury: (civil law) The physical injuries sustained in an accident.

Bodily Injury: (insurance) Bodily injury insurance coverage is a type of policy that will pay for damages in the form of physical injuries that result from an accident that is caused by the policyholder.

Liability: Liability arises when a legal duty of care is established and one party fails to uphold its legal duty. This failure results in a legal obligation to pay for the damage that results from the legal breach.

Negligence: In legal terms, negligence is defined as the failure to uphold one’s legal duty of care.

Personal injury law: This collection of civil laws is in place to protect individuals who get injured and suffer financial losses after an accident that’s caused by someone else’s negligent behavior.

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