Legal language can become so specialized that some people refer to it as “legalese” – as if it were an entirely different language. Sometimes the obscure usage of legal language is necessary, and sometimes it isn’t. Unfortunately, some lawyers use it as an excuse to convince you that you cannot solve your legal problems on your own.

While lawyers often use the terms “bodily injury” and “personal injury” interchangeably, they don’t always mean the same thing. It all depends on the context. Assuming that these two terms have the same meaning could get you into trouble if you turn out to be wrong. Consult with a lawyer if you are unsure.

What Is Bodily Injury?

In an insurance policy, bodily injury often means just what it says—injury to the body. In these policies, bodily injury does not include the pain and suffering or emotional distress that frequently accompany a serious bodily injury. 

It gets even more confusing since some insurance policies, especially auto liability insurance policies, also cover psychological damages arising from physical injuries, such as emotional distress. They also cover lost earnings, which isn’t really bodily injury either. 

Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Insurance in Texas

In Texas, PIP insurance is an optional form of coverage that covers your bodily injury if you suffer a car accident, regardless of fault. It extends to:

  • Medical expenses, including surgery, X-rays, dental care, eye care, medical procedures, prosthetic devices, and professional nursing care; 
  • Ambulance services;
  • Rehabilitation therapy; and
  • Funeral and burial expenses.

It also covers additional losses, such as lost earnings and the cost of domestic services.

Maximum Medical Improvement

You reach maximum medical improvement (MMI) when your doctor confirms that you have recovered from your bodily injuries as much as you ever will. Hopefully, this means you enjoy a full recovery. If it doesn’t, then it means you have to live with some permanent physical disability

It is only when you reach MMI that you will be in a position to precisely calculate your bodily injuries. If you haven’t reached MMI, you will have to estimate your future medical expenses.

What Is Personal Injury?

While the term “bodily injury” often means only physical damage to the body, “personal injury” has a much broader meaning. It includes not only bodily injury, but also non-economic damages

These are intangible psychological losses arising from physical injuries, such as a lifelong fear of dogs resulting from a dog attack. These damages can amount to far more than mere bodily injury damages.


The term “personal injury” even covers damage to reputation caused by defamation (slander or libel). Keep in mind, however, that few lawyers who style themselves as “personal injury lawyers” handle defamation claims. 

Personal Injury Damages

Depending on the nature of your injuries and the circumstances under which you suffered them, you can qualify for various forms of compensation, including:

  • Current medical bills, 
  • Estimated future medical expenses;
  • Pharmaceuticals; 
  • Medical equipment;
  • Damage to your automobile (even though, strictly speaking, property damage is not a personal injury); 
  • Modifications to your home or car that your injuries might require;
  • Lost earnings; 
  • Diminished earning capacity (estimated future lost earnings);
  • Vocational rehab training;
  • Out-of-pocket expenses such as child care;
  • Pain and suffering;
  • Emotional distress and mental anguish; 
  • Lost quality of life; 
  • Disfigurement; and
  • Any other tangible or intangible losses you might have suffered that arise directly from your physical injuries.

Qualifying family members can also seek monetary damages for loss of consortium based on your injuries, even if they suffered no physical injuries themselves.

Special Case: Wrongful Death

If you die from your injuries, your personal injury claim becomes a wrongful death claim in favor of certain surviving family members. Texas wrongful death law allows your surviving close family members to collect wrongful death damages that might be characterized as “personal injury” damages, such as: 

  • Lost financial support;
  • Lost savings or inheritance;
  • The value of lost household services;
  • Survivor’s psychological pain and anguish; and
  • Lost love, companionship, comfort, and society.

Of course, some of the foregoing items are based on the fatal injury to the deceased victim, not to survivors.

Decoding “Legalese” With Help From a Qualified Personal Injury Lawyer

Terms like bodily injury and personal injury can be confusing. With the expertise of a reliable lawyer, demystify these definitions and know your rights.

Contact the Houston Personal Injury Lawyers at Attorney Brian White Personal Injury Lawyers For Help

For more information, contact the Houston personal injury law firm of Attorney Brian White Personal Injury Lawyers by calling (713) 500-5000.

Attorney Brian White Personal Injury Lawyers
3120 Southwest Freeway, Suite 350
Houston, TX 77098
United States

Attorney Brian White Personal Injury Lawyers – East Fwy
11811 East Fwy, Suite 630-06
Houston, TX 77029
United States

Attorney Brian White Personal Injury Lawyers – South Loop
2600 S Loop W, Suite 293
Houston, TX 77054
United States