Suppose you have suffered injuries because of someone’s reckless or negligent behavior, either in an accident or otherwise. In that case, you might decide to go to court to seek compensation for both physical and emotional damages. As your lawsuit unfolds, you may start hearing unfamiliar terms, such as personal injury and bodily injury. It’s essential to understand the differences between these two concepts to be as informed as possible as your case goes through the system.
Whether yours is a bodily injury case, a personal injury case or both will determine the decisions you and your attorneys must make.
How Do Personal Injury and Bodily Injury Compare?
Personal injury and bodily injury are both legal terms that provide definitions for a court to make decisions on claims and disputes brought under various types of law.
Personal injuries are most commonly associated with civil lawsuits as they describe a broad category of physical and emotional injuries. For instance, if someone spreads false information about you that damages your reputation, you may be able to file a defamation personal injury lawsuit and receive compensation. As another example, if you are seriously hurt in a car crash, you may be able to file an individual injury case to recover an amount for pain and suffering.
In comparison, bodily injury is a term commonly invoked in criminal law to evaluate what kinds of charges should be filed and penalties administered to someone who intentionally hurts another. The law often describes this as “serious bodily harm.”
In the Nevada Revised Statutes, the term is defined as “bodily injury which creates a substantial risk of death or which causes serious permanent disfigurement or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ, or prolonged physical pain.” The concept often comes into play in determining which class of felony to apply to specific facts, and which more severe injuries lead to more serious charges.
These are general differences as the terms personal injury and bodily injury have civil and criminal law applications. For instance, you may be a victim of a crime that involves serious bodily injury, and the extent of those injuries may be an issue in the criminal case. However, you may also be able to bring a personal injury lawsuit against the perpetrator for those bodily injuries.
Examples of Personal Injury Cases in Nevada
Many incidents can become the subject of a personal injury case in Nevada. The most common incident is vehicle accidents involving motorcycles, bicycles, trucks, buses, and pedestrians.
Slip and fall cases are also very common under personal injury law, such as when a property owner has not cleared the ice off a porch or sidewalk, or there is a spill in a store. Slip, and falls send about 9 million people to the emergency room each year.
Other types of personal injury cases can include:
- Slander and libel.
- Medical malpractice.
- Products liability.
- Workplace accidents.
- Premises liability.
In most cases, you must show that the act resulted from negligence or recklessness, though the concept of strict liability governs some actions. A showing of negligence essentially requires proving that a person acted unreasonably and that injuries resulted from the action.
Types of Damages You Can Recover in Personal Injury Lawsuits
Personal injury cases are a mechanism for you to recover out-of-pocket costs for injuries from someone’s behavior, especially if they were reckless or negligent. You may be able to sue for:
- Costs of medical treatment.
- Anticipated costs of future treatment.
- Lost wages, such as from missing work.
- Lost earnings capacity from an inability to work.
- Pain and suffering.
- Emotional trauma.
Personal injury cases can lead to significant verdicts and settlements in other states mainly because of big awards for punitive damages. Nevada law, however, caps punitive damages at three times the size of any compensatory award, and it caps pain and suffering awards at $350,000.
Examples of Bodily Injury
The extent of someone’s injuries can become a significant issue in prosecuting a criminal case. According to Cornell University, substantial bodily harm under the law can include injuries such as:
- Severe burns.
Deep cuts and serious burns or abrasions.
Short-term or nonobvious disfigurement.
Fractured or dislocated bones.
Significant physical pain.
Short-term loss or impairment of a bodily member, organ, or mental faculty.
Loss of consciousness.
Enhanced Penalties for Substantial Bodily Injury
Prosecutors can use the presence of substantial bodily injuries to ask a court for more severe punishment under the law. For example, causing severe physical harm during the commission of rape could result in a sentence of life without parole, while driving under the influence and causing injury could lead to up to 20 years in prison.
In some cases, the act of severe bodily harm can be implied. Someone convicted of stalking who makes a victim fear serious bodily injury can face charges of aggravated stalking, punishable by up to 15 years in prison. A court may find that the fear of bodily injury alone may be severe enough to justify the greater charges.
The extent of bodily injuries to a victim can become an essential part of the defense of a criminal case. Experienced defense attorneys may try to show that injuries are not as severe as government prosecutors portray to argue for a reduction in charges, reducing potential penalties.
Personal Injury and Accident Counsel at De Castroverde Law Group
Suffering bodily injuries and personal injuries in an accident or a crime can change your life forever. Let the experienced personal injury and accident attorneys at De Castroverde Law Group guide you through this tumultuous time. Our team of attorneys will take the time to understand the facts and evidence of your case and make a clear recommendation for how to get the compensation you deserve. Don’t go through this period alone. Call us or contact us online for a free consultation.