Two terms are often used when someone got hurt. The first is personal injury and the second is bodily injury. A lot of people use the terms as if they are interchangeable, but they actually are not. Indeed, they are two different things that can bring with them different lawsuits and different compensations.
Looking first at personal injury, this is covered by civil law. It is designed to provide victims of social wrongs or accidents with financial compensation. In most cases, the plaintiff in a personal injury case is the person who was actually injured. However, should the injury have been the cause of death, then a representative of the estate can file a wrongful death case. The defendant is the party that caused the injury. However, they may state that someone else was actually responsible, at which point they will introduce a cross-defendant.
In a personal injury case, the burden of proof is usually not as high as what it would be in a criminal case. However, many personal injury cases also run in criminal court, particularly if death has occurred. Nevertheless, the criminal court does not concern itself with paying damages. Rather, its concern is punishing the perpetrator of an offense. Because the burden of proof is lower, there are many cases where someone is acquitted of criminal offenses but is then still successfully sued in civil court for damages. While the burden of proof is lower, it is not non-existent. The plaintiff has to prove that elements of negligence existed in the conduct of the defendant.
Personal Injury Elements of Negligence
Personal injuries can happen due to premises liability, motor vehicle accidents, nursing home abuse, professional malpractice, defective products and more. In almost all cases, they are caused by the reckless or negligent conduct of the defendant and not because of intentional behavior. While different states have different laws, most states have similarities in terms of what has to be proven by the plaintiff. These things usually are:
1. That the defendant had a duty of care towards the plaintiff.
2. That the defendant breached this duty of care.
3. That the injury happened as a direct result of this breach, either direct or proximate.
4. That damages have occurred as a result of these actions.
The duty of the defendant varies from one state to the next, and the circumstances of the effect. However, everybody always has a duty to do all they can not to injure someone else. For instance, someone should not drive while intoxicated, shops should ensure their floor surfaces are free from clutter, landlords should warn their tenants of dangerous conditions and manufacturers should not release products with various defects. These are just a few examples, but if they are not met, it would be possible to file a personal injury lawsuit.
Many personal injury lawsuits involve medical malpractice. In these cases, a physician did not act in the way that it could be expected of someone with his or her training and expertise. Some examples of medical malpractice include misdiagnosis, improper prescriptions, leaving items inside surgical cavities and so on.
Unfortunately, if a plaintiff cannot demonstrate the various elements of negligence as described above, the case may be dismissed. This means that the defendant will not have been liable. One of the hardest things to prove is the legal cause of the injury, which is covered under point 3 above.
Personal Injury Forms of Compensation
Most of the time, damages awarded in a personal injury case are both economic and non-economic in nature. They usually include medical bills, including those yet to be received, lost wages, rehabilitation costs, out-of-pocket expenses, household help, funeral and burial costs, loss of consortium and, in some cases, pain and suffering.
Economic damages are calculated based on actual losses. Generally, various pieces of information will have to be provided as proof. This includes payslips, medical bills and so on. Non-economic damages are different as it is hard to put a value on hardship. It is perhaps for this reason that most states have capped the amount of damages that can be awarded.
Bodily injury is somewhat different from personal injury. This is because it discusses a specific injury to the physical body of one person, caused by another person. This can be anything from something as significant as a broken leg, to something as small as a bruise.
Bodily injury is a term often used in criminal cases. This is because it increases the seriousness of the case. For instance, someone could face a charge of simpe assault or aggravated assault. With aggravated assault, the victim will usually have sustained a physical injury, which is not likely to be the case with a simple assault.
Another area where the term bodily injury is often used is within the world of insurance. It is often added to a policy to indicate when someone is and isn’t covered. An insurance company will usually pay a certain amount of bodily injury and they will generally pay no compensation if no bodily injury is present. Emotional pain and fear, for instance, is something an insurance company will not compensate a victim for.
If you were involved in any type of injury and sustained a physical injury, you may be entitled to request compensation for this bodily injury. Essentially, this will mean that you want to be compensated specifically for the injury you sustained. The compensation you receive will vary depending on the number of medical treatments you required and how bad the injury was.
Bodily Injury Compensation
With bodily injury, you will firstly be reimbursed for any out-of-pocket expenses that you incurred as a result of your injuries. These include money that you were unable to earn due to work absences, medical expenses, transportation to hospital, medication and therapy, for instance. As such, you are able to recover actual losses for services that you had to use as a result of having been injured.
Sometimes, it is possible to be compensated for a specific injury. However, this will only be the case if the injury was reasonably significant. Good examples include broken bones. The level of damages vary with these claims and most states will have caps on how much can be claimed.
A more complicated area is pain and suffering. Sometimes, it is possible to claim for discomfort in general. This is because discomfort, pain and suffering are classified as an injury. The reason why it is complicated, however, is that it is impossible to put monetary values on these types of injuries.
Finally, there may be an element to your claim that focuses on future losses and expenses. This is applicable in the case of very serious injuries that will continue to negatively impact your life for a long time. The costs that you can claim for include future medical expenses, future loss of income, permanent impairment and disability, disfigurement and future care and therapy. Although this is compensation for costs you will experience in the future, you will receive compensation for them now. It is not possible to file a bodily injury suit for existing injuries now, and file a second suit later on for future damages. In other words, the entire claim has to be resolved in one go, looking at all the elements.