If you’ve been injured in a car accident or similar incident, you might want to make a claim for compensation. And upon reviewing your insurance policy, you might find that it covers personal injury, bodily injury, or both.

These terms sound very similar and are sometimes used interchangeably. But they actually refer to different sets of injuries and are covered by different types of insurance. 

In short, personal injury usually refers to physical damage but can also include non-physical damage like pain, suffering, or defamation. Bodily injury, on the other hand, refers only to physical damage. Understanding each type of injury, how they’re covered, and how to make a claim is vital to receiving the compensation you deserve.

At Phalen Law, we specialize in helping people who have been injured in an automobile accident claim for damages. With our support, you can avoid the low settlements typically offered by insurance companies and receive full compensation while we handle the case on your behalf. 

What is personal injury?

In a legal setting, the term “personal injury” refers to any injury that occurs in an accident. That includes physical injuries as well as mental and emotional damage (such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder) and damage to your reputation.

Physical and other injuries that come under personal injury could be caused by:

  • Vehicle accidents involving cars, motorcycles, trucks, or pedestrians
  • Slips and falls
  • Criminal assaults
  • Dog bites
  • Negligent security
  • Workplace accidents
  • Defective products
  • Medical malpractice
  • Premise liability (when you’re injured on someone else’s property by something they should have fixed or warned you about)
  • Slander, libel, and other defamation of character

What type of insurance is personal injury covered by in Kansas and Missouri?

Personal injury is covered by Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance, also known as no-fault insurance. PIP provides compensation for medical and rehabilitation expenses, loss of income, and funeral and burial expenses. But PIP isn’t available in every state.

Most states, including Missouri, operate on an at-fault system. That means the injured party must prove that someone else was responsible for the accident. In these states, PIP isn’t available. Instead, drivers are legally required to carry bodily injury liability insurance. Injured parties can claim through this insurance or an optional policy like MedPay.

In no-fault states like Kansas, injured parties can make a claim regardless of who was responsible for the accident. These states require all drivers to carry PIP insurance. The minimum personal injury coverage in Kansas is $4,500 for medical expenses with a further $4,500 for rehabilitation.

What does personal injury insurance cover?

Compensations from a personal injury claim can include:

  • Medical expenses
  • Estimated future expenses for a long-term injury
  • Lost income from an inability to work on account of your injury
  • Occupational disability if your injuries prevent you from
  • Pain and suffering caused by your physical injury
  • Physiological suffering
  • Property damage

It’s also possible for claimants to receive punitive damages. This refers to money awarded on top of compensation to punish the wrongdoer.

If someone dies in the accident, either their personal representative (for an adult victim) or their parents (for a child victim) can instead file a wrongful death claim. In this case, the insurer will cover the cost of funerals, cremations, and burials. The victim’s spouse or dependent children can also receive death benefits equal to the value and duration of the insurance policy’s lost income benefits.

How to make a personal injury claim

You can make a personal injury claim if your injuries are the result of someone else’s neglect, reckless or careless behavior, or intentionally harmful actions. For your claim to be successful, your personal injury lawyer must prove:

  • Duty: The defendant has a duty of care (an obligation to ensure your safety or wellbeing) to not cause you harm
  • Breach: The defendant failed to meet their duty of care
  • Causation: The defendant’s actions or failure to act directly caused your injuries
  • Damages: You were harmed in a way that money damages can compensate

Duty of care depends on the circumstances. Employers, for example, have a responsibility to provide personal protective equipment and proper training before workers handle harmful substances. But drivers also have a responsibility not to endanger other road users through behaviors such as texting while driving.

What is bodily injury?

Bodily injury only refers to physical injuries to your body – a much narrower and simpler definition than personal injury. Such injuries could include:

  • Cuts
  • Bruises
  • Broken bones
  • Burns
  • Whiplash
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Scarring
  • Disfigurement
  • Paralysis
  • Impairment of bodily function
  • Other series injuries

The term “bodily injury” is most commonly used in three settings:

  • Insurance: To discuss compensation when the insured person causes an accident that hurts someone else, particularly in the context of an automobile accident
  • Civil lawsuits: When the injured party goes beyond insurance and makes a claim against the person responsible for their injuries
  • Criminal law: Refers to injuries received due to a crime

What type of insurance is bodily injury covered by?

Bodily injury is covered by bodily injury liability coverage. This type of insurance pays the medical costs of other people who were injured in an accident that you caused. It also helps you pay for legal defense if an injured party sues you for damages.

The minimum bodily injury liability coverage in Kansas and Missouri is $25,000 per person, with a total of $50,000 per accident and $25,000 for property damage.

What does bodily injury insurance cover?

Compensations from a bodily injury claim can include:

  • Hospital bills
  • Surgery costs
  • Doctor’s visits
  • Ambulance rides
  • Rehabilitation and physical therapy
  • Future medical expenses for long-term injuries
  • Lost income
  • Future lost income due to an occupationally disabling injury

Unlike personal injury insurance, bodily injury insurance doesn’t cover non-economic damages such as pain, suffering, and emotional distress.

How to make a bodily injury claim

Unlike a personal injury claim, you don’t make a bodily injury claim against your own insurance. Instead, you claim against the insurance of the responsible party. You must also prove that the other person was indeed responsible for the accident.

Proving fault is one of the most difficult aspects of making a bodily injury claim. Gathering evidence in a lengthy and detailed process that can be particularly difficult for those recovering from injury. So it’s highly recommended that you hire a reputable attorney with detailed knowledge of bodily injury law in your state.

Get the compensation you deserve with Phalen Law

Whether you want to make a personal injury claim against your insurance or a bodily injury claim against someone else’s, Phalen Law can help. Our talented team has over 50 years’ experience in winning cases for injured people throughout Kansas and Missouri. Your Phalen Law attorney will relieve the stress of a complex and confusing claim while making you feel heard and valued at every step.

Call us today or complete our Free Case Evaluation form online to arrange a free no-obligation consultation for your case.