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What Is Bodily Injury?

Recovering Damages for a Bodily Injury After a Car Accident

Bodily injury is a legal term used in car wreck cases that is synonymous with personal injury when it relates to a negligent person or a company (by its agent's actions) causing injury to another human being. No personal injury attorney wants to be trying to merely recover property damage to a person's vehicle, because such efforts will not justify the time commitment.

The one thing about automobile collisions that is predictable is that such serious bodily injury cases are NOT predictable, when it comes to the damage caused to the vehicle's innocent occupants. Because all people are built and “wired” differently, the extent of the impact suffered by a person of a motor vehicle accident (or by other, similar tort claim) varies greatly. When treatment or therapy are protracted and obvious disfigurement, or potential loss of an eye, organ or mental faculty will remain with the victim, these claims are highly costly and difficult.

Plus, the extent of the injury is to be measured by a jury after considering ALL the impacts on this individual, including damage to his or her body, emotional well-being and other psychological impact suffered as a result of the other driver's negligence. Accident-related impairment of the function of a bodily organ can sharply hike the claim value.

With Some Drivers Behind the Wheel, Any Accident Puts Them at Risk of Substantial Risk of Death

A side impact by a male driver in a 3-ton SUV when striking a Ford pickup, with a 28-year old male driver who is a robust farmer who used to be a linebacker in college, as compared to a 74-year old woman who is a retired school teacher driving her 20-year old Toyota Corolla and has osteoporosis (bone density issues), the resulting injuries will be different. The victim's physical conditioning and the size, weight and protectiveness of his or her motor vehicle can make a huge difference in most collisions. The older driver is likely to suffer a compound fracture or worse, whereas the young, robust truck driver may have walked away unscathed.

The extent of damages in these two scenarios will be like a “night and day” difference. The negligent party (and his auto insurance company) “takes the Plaintiff as he finds him (or her).” The responsible party can't stand back and say, “If this had been Aaron Judge (the New York Yankees' mammoth baseball player), he would not have been hurt.”

What Is Bodily Injury Liability?

To assure that motorists can pay damages caused by them in a truck accident, or auto collision, bodily injury liability insurance coverage is mandated by virtually all states. As is stated below, certain categories of costs will be covered by your insurance provider, through whatever policy limits you purchased.

Uninsured motorist bodily liability coverage is typically a subset of your overall coverage amount. This means that if you are the victim of a motorcycle accident and the driver is UNINSURED or UNDERINSURED, your own company may be on the hook for an excess amount. Many umbrella policies, however, “cap” their total payout for the value of their insurer's life at $1,000,000, even if that policyholder has a $5 million “umbrella.”

How Are Bodily Injury Limits Typically Structured?

Most states require a minimum amount of bodily injury liability insurance, but this may not be enough to cover the total amount of damages you may be responsible for paying. Florida is a state with shockingly low minimum limits. Georgia requires over twice the limits of that state, for any driver. But those limits ($25,000/$50,000) are grossly insufficient, especially for a person's protracted loss or impairment of his or her ability to work. This type of “other driver” protection is totally separate from collision coverage of the at-fault driver's car or truck or the negligent motorist property damage coverage.

A small number of automobile liability policies are “single limit” contacts. This means that the insurer agrees that (regardless of how many injured parties that may claim entitlement to financial recovery for injuries, THAT number is all that they must pay out. So, a $300,000 policy must be shared by all claimants. If you had a traumatic brain injury, this coverage won't come close

Most policies in most states have a “split limits” structure to their bodily injury liability limits. This means for ONE injured party, the lower amount is the maximum coverage to him or her, and the higher number is for all injured parties, regardless of the number. Thus, a person may have a $100,000/$300,000 policy in place.

What Does Bodily Injury Liability Cover? 

Initially, understand that (in Georgia) the insurer's obligation to provide a defense is an inherent part of the policy. The insurance defense attorney's legal fees are fully covered, so that the face value of money available can be used in its entirety. Thus, the insurer could use $35,000 in legal services to defend you, and yet only have a $25,000 amount of money at risk to pay out a single injured victim.

Hospital, ambulance, physical therapy and other medical expenses

Loss of income

Non-economic damages called “pain and suffering” and possibly a loss of consortium claim of the spouse of the injury party.

Funeral expenses, if applicably in a wrongful death case.

The Benefits of Additional Bodily Injury Liability Coverage

For people with assets, who could be exposed to losing those properties, an umbrella policy is needed. For some insurers to provide a $5 million “umbrella” policy for additional protection, the policyholder first must contract for a higher $500,000/$1,000,000 policy or at least $250,000/$500,000. When a disastrous collision occurs, the odds of owing any deficiency after all settlements are paid out (greater than the umbrella coverage) are very small.

Bodily injury from intentional actions, negligence, recklessness, motor vehicle crimes or dangerous practices, or from any licensed health care or medical professional and their employers or institutions (hospitals), civil damages may be recoverable. When the at-fault driver is well-insured, your recovery comes from his or her insurance company, to the extent of their bodily injury limits.

Uninsured Motorist Insurance

For an uninsured motorist bodily injury claim, the injured party's own car insurance policy should have uninsured or underinsured coverage, to some extent. The best insurers “build in” this important protection, while substandard and low-cost carriers try to severely limit or totally exclude their policy from covering uninsured drivers.

An uninsured and underinsured motorist can face years of judgments, garnishments and seizure of assets, and cannot obtain a new license until a payment plan is agreed upon for uninsured motorist property damage, in most states.

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Additional links related to this topic:

Bodily Injury Definition


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