Craig Rosenbaum | February 16, 2023 | Personal Injury
Personal injury includes any harm caused by an accident, including emotional and physical injuries. Bodily injury refers specifically to physical injuries sustained in an accident. Even though liability insurance is for bodily injury and property damage, you could recover compensation for emotional damages caused by an accident.
Bodily Injury vs. Personal Injury
Bodily injury includes any physical injuries caused by a car crash. Common injuries caused by car accidents include:
- Traumatic brain injury
- Fractures and broken bones
- Neck injuries
- Back and spinal cord injuries
- Amputations and loss of limbs
- Organ damage
- Soft tissue injuries
Personal injury includes bodily injury. However, it also includes the emotional distress and mental anguish experienced because of the accident. Personal injury also includes the physical pain and suffering you experience because of the bodily injuries.
Examples of personal injury after an accident can include anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. It could include embarrassment you feel because of severe scarring or disfigurement. Personal injury also includes the loss of enjoyment of life and a decreased quality of life because of permanent impairments or disabilities.
Personal Injury Protection vs. Bodily Injury Liability Coverage in New York
New York is a mixed no-fault insurance state. The law requires drivers to have the following insurance coverage:
- No-fault insurance (Personal Injury Protection or PIP)
- Liability insurance (bodily injury and property damage)
- Uninsured motorist insurance
Basic no-fault insurance coverage covers economic damages because of a motor vehicle accident up to $50,000. The policy pays for reasonable and necessary medical bills and rehabilitation expenses. It also pays up to 80% of your lost wages and $25 per day for other necessary and reasonable expenses, such as travel to and from doctor’s appointments and help with household chores.
You can only sue the at-fault driver for economic losses that exceed your PIP limits. If you sustain serious injuries, you can sue the at-fault driver for non-economic damages, which include personal injuries.
New York requires drivers to have a minimum liability insurance policy of $25,000 for bodily injury and $50,000 for death to one person. The amounts double per accident for injury or death to two or more individuals. The minimum property damage coverage is $10,000 per accident.
Bodily injury insurance compensates victims for their physical, financial, and emotional damages when a driver causes a car crash. However, you have the burden of proving negligence to recover money for your claim.
Valuing Bodily Injury and Personal Injury Damages for an Accident Claim
The value of your economic losses is the total of your medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses. You must provide proof of the expenses.
An insurance provider might argue that the expenses are unreasonable or unnecessary. A New York personal injury lawyer can help you build a case to receive full compensation for your monetary losses.
Valuing non-economic damages can be more challenging. There is no specific formula for placing a value on pain and suffering.
Insurance companies often undervalue non-economic damages. Therefore, before accepting a settlement offer for an insurance claim, it is worthwhile to talk with a New York car accident lawyer to ensure the settlement offer is fair.
Suing the Other Driver for Personal Injury in New York
Because New York is a no-fault insurance state, you must sustain serious injuries to sue a driver for non-economic damages or economic damages that exceed PIP coverage. New York insurance laws define “serious injuries” as:
- Loss of a fetus
- Significant disfigurement
- Permanent loss or use of a body organ or member, including permanent consequential limitation of the use of a body organ or member
- Permanent loss of significant limitation of the use of a body system or function
The definition of serious injury also includes non-permanent impairments that impact the victim for at least 90 days of the 180 days after the accident. The impairment must prevent the person from performing their daily activities during that time or substantially impair their ability to perform these tasks.
You have the burden of proving the legal elements of a negligence claim. You must prove:
- The driver owed you a duty of care. Drivers have a duty of care to take reasonable steps to avoid car accidents.
- The driver’s conduct breached the duty of care.
- The breach of duty was the direct and proximate cause of the car accident.
- You sustained injuries and damages because of the collision.
If your damages exceed the policy limits, you might recover compensation from your underinsured motorist insurance policy – assuming you purchased the coverage through your insurance provider. A New York personal injury attorney reviews all sources of compensation to maximize the amount of money you receive for an accident claim.