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Bodily Injury vs. Personal Injury Insurance Coverage

Chad West Sept. 1, 2021

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a car wreck, it’s important that you know the ins and outs of various types of coverage to help you pursue financial compensation for your injuries. Simply put, sometimes just healing your body is not enough. Varying types of coverage exist to help provide for the negative short- and long-term impacts of severe injuries.

Bodily injury refers to specific injuries to one’s body. Personal injury, however, is a broader term that refers to any physical, mental or emotional damage an individual may suffer thanks to an injury-causing incident such as a car wreck, slip and fall or other event.

Clients should understand the difference between bodily injury and personal injury liability so that they can understand how to calculate the economic impact of these potentially life-altering events. Since the terminology can be confusing, especially when coupled with discussions about personal injury law, let’s talk about the differences and why it’s essential to have both kinds of insurance coverage on your policy.

Bodily injury insurance coverage pays for medical expenses and lost income for other drivers if you are involved in a car wreck. It is a third-party liability insurance coverage that protects a driver who causes physical injury to another person or persons in a collision. Bodily injury coverage financially protects you should you be found at fault in a collision.

Insurance companies will review bodily injury liability claims and look at the costs associated as “special damages” and “general damages.” “Special damages” includes hard costs such as medical bills, rental car fees and vehicle repairs. General damages are the more subjective mental and emotional losses such as pain and suffering and future loss of income or change in mental or emotional status.

The same event may render a different financial result depending on a variety of factors, including the long-term impact on an individual’s life. In a crash involving a 70-year-old man who loses a limb vs. a 10-year-old boy who loses a limb, general damages for a 10-year-old boy will likely be higher than for a 70-year-old man because his life has been dramatically altered for much longer given his age. The immediate hard medical costs may be identical, but the long-term impact may be calculated differently by an insurance company. This is another area where legal assistance from your Dallas personal injury team can help prove damages. No matter who you are, we will help you illustrate the long-term impact on your life.

Personal Injury Protection is a first-party medical coverage that may pay for medical expenses and lost wages for you as the driver of the insured vehicle and for any passengers of your insured vehicle. It’s not associated with any liability. Your medical provider may even bill your insurance provider directly for your medical treatment and that of your passengers. In some states, insurance companies have the right to subrogate, or assume the legal right to collect financial damages, against the other insurance carrier to recover the amount they’ve paid out on your behalf for medical expenses if you are not at fault in the collision.

Medical treatment can’t wait until a lawsuit settles. For this reason, personal injury protection pays for medical expenses along the way until treatment is no longer needed. If you have personal injury protection coverage on your own insurance policy and you are injured in a car wreck, regardless of fault, your coverage will kick in and begin to pay out for your treatment and treatment of any passengers in your vehicle who may also have suffered injuries. Personal Injury Protection is required in Texas unless the driver signs a waiver specifically declining such coverage. The minimum required is $2,500. It’s common to see coverage amounts ranging from $2,500 up to $10,000. The more coverage you want, the higher your premium will be.

Here’s where the practice of personal injury law is so critically important. An individual who suffers a severe injury may have their physical medical needs covered by their own PIP coverage, but that coverage may not include the true cost of lost wages, mental anguish, loss of future wages because of a loss of physical ability or mental capacity, or even death. Since the minimum of $2,500 required by state law is fairly low, coverage may be exhausted quickly in a severe injury case, leaving you on the hook for the cost of the additional treatments and long-term financial losses. Resultantly, you and your Dallas personal injury legal team (that’s us) will need to pursue a financial recovery against the OTHER driver’s bodily injury policy.

If you or a loved one has been involved in a crash and suffered from a severe injury because of someone else’s negligence, give us a call to assess your case. There is no cost to you for a case assessment, and we can help you determine whether you should pursue a financial recovery against the other party. You are not alone. Call us for help.


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