Many people searching for legal representation after suffering an accident injury hear terms they are not familiar with that can be confusing and can have overlapping meanings. Two such terms are “bodily injury” and “personal injury.” An online search of these terms may lead one to find different interpretations based upon the source providing the information. Even though there may be no universally accepted precise dictionary definitions for these terms, both terms do have customary and most frequent usages.
As typically used in accident claims and lawsuits on Long Island and in the five boroughs of New York City, the difference between bodily injury and personal injury is that personal injury involves someone else’s negligence of any sort that causes physical harm. Bodily injury, more specifically, involves a car accident that causes physical harm. A personal injury could include a fall, a boating accident, a defective product injury, a construction accident, or any number of other types of incidents that lead to physical harm.
In most cases, bodily injury is a phrase used only when discussing car accidents under New York State law. If you have questions about personal injury and bodily injury, they likely stem from concerns about your auto insurance coverage following a traffic accident on Long Island or elsewhere in the New York metropolitan area.
When it comes to auto insurance coverage, two options for paying for your medical care, lost wages, and other losses after an accident include your personal injury protection policy and the at-fault driver’s bodily injury coverage.
- Bodily Injury vs. Personal Injury Insurance in New York
- New York Requires Drivers to Obtain Certain Auto Insurance Coverage
- Insurance Claims and Personal Injury Lawsuits Following New York Car Accidents
- Consider Help With Your Long Island or NYC Car Accident Case
- Learn More About the Difference Between Bodily Injury and Personal Injury
Bodily Injury vs. Personal Injury Insurance in New York
Per the New York Department of Motor Vehicles, the state requires all drivers to take out a personal injury protection (PIP) policy, also known as no-fault insurance, as well as a liability policy that provides bodily injury coverage. If you believe you’ve never purchased PIP coverage, don’t worry. It is included in every auto insurance policy issued in New York. Primarily, the difference between bodily injury and personal injury protection insurance is who it covers.
If you sustain minor to moderate injuries in a New York car accident, you will turn to your PIP policy to compensate you for your medical care, a portion of your lost wages, and other losses. If you suffer more serious injuries or exceed the coverage of your PIP policy, you will be eligible to file a fault-based claim in some cases.
Fault-based claims generally target the at-fault driver’s liability policy. Specifically, this policy is their bodily injury coverage. In the same way, if you are liable in an accident, your bodily liability coverage provides a payout source for another party injured in the accident. Victims eligible to file an at-fault claim are also generally able to file a lawsuit in civil court if necessary.
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New York Requires Drivers to Obtain Certain Auto Insurance Coverage
Like many other states, New York law requires drivers to have a minimum amount of auto insurance coverage. Unlike some other states, though, this includes no-fault insurance coverage, which is typically the first kind of coverage injured parties rely on following a crash.
The New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) explains the state’s requirements further:
Personal Injury Protection (No-Fault) Coverage in New York
PIP coverage does not require you to prove fault (which is why it is called “No-Fault” insurance) and will pay even if you caused the accident. New York requires you to carry at least $50,000 in PIP coverage that will pay out up to $50,000 per person in an accident. PIP covers:
- Medical care expenses
- A portion of your lost earnings from missed work up to a stated maximum
- Other “reasonable and necessary” related expenses
Those covered by this policy include:
- The driver in the car
- Any passengers in the car
- Any pedestrians or bicyclists hit by the car
What is not covered by this policy includes your car repairs, which fall under a different form of auto insurance coverage, (typically referred to in New York as “collision coverage,”) and your pain and suffering damages that are only recoverable through a fault-based claim or lawsuit. Your PIP policy is meant to be a basic policy that covers the cost of treating and dealing with relatively minor and moderate-level injuries.
Third-Party Bodily Injury Liability Coverage in New York
In an insured person’s relationship with their insurance carrier, the policyholder is thought of as the “first party,” the insurance carrier is considered the “second party,” and any party making a claim against the bodily injury liability coverage is deemed a “third-party.” Their claims are sometimes termed “third-party bodily injury” claims. (This terminology is most frequently used when the injured first party was hurt in the course of his or her employment and simultaneously has a Workers’ Compensation claim as well as a third-party claim against the at-fault party.)
Third-party bodily injury coverage pays for medical care and related expenses for victims of an accident caused by the policyholder or by someone driving the covered vehicle with the policyholder’s consent. A victim who files a third-party claim has the option to seek other losses, such as:
- Future necessary treatment and care
- Current and future wage losses
- Reduced earning capacity
- Pain and suffering damages
- Emotional distress
The minimum requirements for a New York third-party bodily injury liability policy include:
- $25,000 for bodily injury to one person in an accident
- $50,000 for bodily injury to multiple people in one accident
- $50,000 for the wrongful death of one person in an accident
- $100,000 for the wrongful death of more than one person in an accident
Some drivers opt to pay a higher premium and receive additional coverage, which greatly reduces the possibility of having to pay for damages for bodily injury claims out of their pockets following a crash. There are also policy provisions available that will cover additional damages in an accident. These provisions include:
- Property damage insurance coverage to repair your vehicle
- Third-party liability policies for property damage
- Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage
Insurance Claims and Personal Injury Lawsuits Following New York Car Accidents
In most cases, New York car accident cases resolve out of court, with the parties either receiving a payout based on their PIP policies and/or reaching a settlement based on a third-party claim. In some cases, though, one party meets the criteria for a fault-based claim, but the at-fault party’s insurer refuses to make a reasonable settlement offer.
When this happens, filing a personal injury lawsuit is often the next step. A personal/car accident lawsuit is a legal action against the at-fault driver or another liable party in civil court. It asks a jury to hear evidence from both sides and make a decision about what happened, who is liable, and how much money the victim deserves.
There are also deadlines on how long accident victims have to file this legal action. The rules that most commonly govern New York car accidents are found in New York Civil Practice Laws & Rules § 214. However, depending on the unique circumstances of your case, some other, potentially shorter, deadline might apply. In addition to the applicable statute of limitations, other critical deadlines apply to claims and lawsuits.
Also, in addition to statutes of limitations and other deadlines, other timeliness considerations apply to personal injury and bodily injury cases. Important items, ranging from dashcam and surveillance video to witness statements, are best obtained as soon as possible.
The best course of action is to act quickly to give our team the time we need to protect your rights and build the strongest case possible for you. If you are from Suffolk County, Nassau County or any of the five burroughs of New York City one of our experienced and dedicated personal injury lawyers will make sure your lawsuit is filed within the deadlines.
Consider Help With Your Long Island or NYC Car Accident Case
If you have questions about how to recover compensation or about your legal options following a car accident on Long Island or in the New York City metropolitan area, our passionate advocates are here to help. We will speak with you about your case for free. When you choose us as your representation, we evaluate the strength of your case, determine how we think you should approach compensation, and support you throughout the process.
When we proseute our clients’ cases, we strive to offer the best service available. We want our clients to understand what is happening, what to expect next, and how to make decisions about settlement offers. We provide a number of services that ensure our clients have the most stress-free experience possible.
We handle their legal claims and seek compensation while they focus on their physical recovery and getting their life back to normal. Our promise to our clients ensures we will:
- Update you about your case regularly
- Identify the at-fault party and applicable insurance policies
- Manage all communication regarding your case for you
- Gather evidence to prove negligence, liability, and losses
- Determine the value for your case before we consider settlement offers
- Prepare and file your claim
- Negotiate with the insurance company representatives for a payout
- Sue the at-fault driver when necessary to recover the money damages you deserve
Once you retain Friedman & Simon, L.L.P. to fight for your rights, you pay nothing upfront and no attorney’s fees unless we secure a payout.
Our Success Over the Years
For over 30 years, our legal team of personal injury attorneys has secured payouts for many clients like you in situations like yours. In fact, our team has secured over $250,000,000 for clients so far. Rest assured that we will use those decades of experience to your benefit when you retain our services.
Our success also has to do with how we treat our clients. For example, we often refer them for further medical care to doctors whom we’ve received strong positive feedback about from other clients. We also go the extra mile for our clients, literally. We’re able to meet with them in person anywhere in the New York metropolitan area.
We’ll tell you more about our firm and how we work to make the journey from injury to recovery as convenient and effective for you as possible,in a simple, free consultation.
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Learn More About the Difference Between Bodily Injury and Personal Injury
If you’d like to learn more about bodily injury vs. personal injury insurance, or if you’d like legal advice, contact our firm. Our NY bodily injury and personal injury attorneys provide free case reviews for victims of traffic accidents in New York City/Long Island. We even have multilingual staff who will speak with you in a language you are most comfortable speaking.
Contact Friedman & Simon, L.L.P. today to learn more and discuss your case in a complimentary consultation.