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When we are discussing injuries, there are two terms that are often tossed around that may lead to some confusion for people – “bodily injury” and “personal injury.” Even though many people use these terms interchangeably, they actually do have different meanings depending on the context and the type of case we are discussing. Here, we want to discuss the difference between bodily injuries and personal injuries, and we will also look at some of the similarities and when these terms overlap.
Most people are familiar with the fact that there are two separate court systems in which cases are heard – the criminal court system and the civil court system. There is a difference between the two processes in these courts when it comes to injuries.
When looking specifically at cases handled by criminal courts, we see that this is where people face charges brought by law enforcement officials and prosecutors. Many of the laws in California reference causing “bodily injury,” and a person can face misdemeanor or felony charges in these instances.
However, the civil court system is where the term “personal injury” is more likely to arise, usually in the form of personal injury lawsuits. These cases arise anytime a person is injured due to the careless or negligent actions of another individual. The actions of the at-fault party do not necessarily have to be criminal in order for you and your lawyer to file a personal injury lawsuit against them.
There is some overlap when it comes to personal injuries and the term “bodily injury,” particularly when it comes to vehicle insurance. If we take a quick look at the types of insurance required in California, we can see the following:
In the first line there, you can see that drivers are required to carry a certain amount of bodily injury liability coverage in order to remain legal on the roadway. This type of insurance is designed to cover the injury expenses of any other party in an accident caused by the insured driver.
Personal injury lawsuits present a way for injury victims to recover compensation through the civil court system. Personal injury claims arise in various ways throughout California, including vehicle accidents, slip and fall incidents, dog bite injuries, and more. As we mentioned, this does not necessarily have anything to do with criminal actions. When a person files a personal injury claim against an at-fault party, they may be able to recover various types of compensation, including the following:
However, this type of compensation is not generally available to injury victims who are harmed due to the criminal actions of another party, at least not as part of the criminal court process. Victims typically will not recover compensation if a person is found guilty, but they may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the individual that caused their injury in these cases. It is entirely possible for a person to face a criminal charge as well as a civil personal injury lawsuit at the same time for the same incident.