No matter how many precautions you take to ensure you stay safe on the road, accidents do happen. When someone is hurt in an auto accident—or any type of accident for that matter—it’s important that they have recourse to be compensated for their injuries or lost wages.
Bodily injury liability is a type of auto insurance coverage that covers a variety of expenses for people who are harmed in an accident. Understanding how this liability coverage works and how it’s different from personal injury liability can help you approach claims more confidently and secure a better outcome.
Defining bodily injury liability
Bodily injury liability is a type of car insurance that’s tied into most auto insurance policies and required in most states. This coverage can pay for the medical bills, wage losses, legal costs or even funeral expenses of drivers and pedestrians who are harmed in an accident. These costs are the responsibility of the at-fault driver in an accident and their insurance is used to cover the qualifying expenses of the other people involved.
Each state has its own regulations and requirements regarding bodily injury liability. Almost every state requires drivers to have some level of bodily injury liability insurance. The only two states that don’t require bodily injury liability coverage for drivers, New Hampshire and Florida, have other requirements to help ensure that drivers and pedestrians are covered.
- In Florida, drivers must have property damage liability coverage and personal injury protection if they don’t have bodily injury liability coverage.
- New Hampshire drivers without bodily injury liability coverage must prove that they have enough cash to cover expenses that they might incur in an accident.
For insurance purposes, bodily injury liability is covered to a different degree from policy to policy. Coverage is defined by the amount that the insurance company will pay for a person who’s injured in an accident and then by the total amount that the insurance company will pay in bodily injury liability for a single accident.
In other words, if your insurance policy includes a 100/300 bodily injury liability plan, your insurance company would pay up to $100,000 to cover the expenses of a single person harmed in an accident and up to $300,000 to cover the expenses incurred in a single accident. Each state has a different minimum requirement for bodily injury liability coverage, but it’s usually around 25/50 or $25,000 for a single person and $50,000 per accident.
Bodily injury liability in action
To understand bodily injury liability further, let’s consider a basic example. Let’s say you run a red light and hit a car that’s passing through the intersection. Since they had a green light and you passed through a red light, the fault for the accident is yours. Because you have caused the accident, your bodily injury liability coverage will be activated and used to cover applicable medical expenses and other covered costs. If you have a 50/100 plan, for example, your insurance would cover up to $50,000 for anyone involved in the accident and up to $100,000 total after subtracting your deductible.
Let’s say someone in the accident is admitted to the hospital with injuries, spends several weeks recovering and racks up $20,000 in medical bills from the hospital, prescriptions and other treatments. In addition to covering these medical expenses, your insurance will also cover the wages they lost while they were recovering from their injury. If they missed six weeks of work after the accident and made a salary of $1,000 per week, your bodily injury liability coverage would be used to pay them for $6,000 in lost wages.
Personal injury vs. bodily injury liability
The primary difference between bodily injury liability and personal injury is the scope of each term. While bodily injury narrowly applies to accidents that are caused by a person and do harm to another, usually in the context of insurance claims, personal injury can be used to cover a wider variety of accidents in order for someone to get compensation for things like character defamation, defective products, slip and fall accidents and even wrongful death.
It’s not always easy to understand bodily injury liability, personal injury and all of the various regulations, practices and requirements that come into play after an accident. The best way to navigate a bodily injury liability or personal injury claim is to work with an experienced legal representative who can guide you through the process.
If you’ve been injured in an auto accident, reach out to Personal Injury Lawyers Minneapolis for help with your claim to ensure you are fairly compensated. We’ll connect you with a legal expert who has experience with bodily injury liability claims and who can help you make sure you get the full amount you’re owed if you’re the victim in an auto accident.