Understanding bodily injury liability

What is bodily injury liability? Bodily injury liability protects you when you're at fault, directly or indirectly, in an accident. Learn more!

handyman with an injury

Human beings are prone to accidents, injuries, bumps, and bruises. Even when we’re trying to be cautious, we still manage to hurt ourselves or others. To some degree, we’ve all experienced this phenomenon. Accidents happen. Because of this, both auto insurance and general liability insurance have bodily injury liability coverage, which helps you pay for the costs associated with another person’s injuries(if you’re the one that caused the injury). 

Are you and your small business protected from bodily injury liability? If not, you need to be, since claims involving personal injury happen more often than you might think. 

So, to help you make an informed decision, we’ll review everything you need to know about bodily injury liability, policy limits, and claims. Let’s do this.

What is bodily injury?

Almost every liability policy contains a similar (if not identical) definition that’s been given by the Insurance Services Office (ISO). This type of coverage includes three primary categories:

  • Personal injury to the body
  • Sickness
  • Disease

Then, there’s a broader definition that includes subcategories of bodily injury that were caused by the injury, sickness, or disease. This includes:

  • Death 
  • Mental anguish
  • Mental injury
  • Disability 
  • Shock
  • Fight

What is bodily injury liability?

When we ask ‘what is bodily injury’ and ‘why it matters,’ we have to talk about risk. 

Risk is a part of life, and one of the greatest risks we face on an everyday basis involves accidentally hurting ourselves or others. We trip; we fall; we misjudge; we mistime. Personal injury is surprisingly common.

Unfortunately, stubbed toes, bruised elbows, and broken bones happen whether we wish them to or not. But, it’s not just the injury itself that presents a problem—you also have to account for the secondary issues that they cause and the various ways a serious injury can negatively impact daily living, including:

  • Medical expenses
  • Physical therapy
  • Inability to work or diminished ability to work
  • Time off 
  • Emotional distress
  • Long-term care implications

Both your business and your car insurance policies acknowledge this reality. Thus, they typically include a few different types of coverage that are meant to protect both your small business, bank account, and customers (or strangers) when you hit the road or go to work. In most cases, the primary forms of third-person liability coverage are:

Bodily injury – This entails financial protection for others when you are at fault in an accident or injure a third party. In most cases, a bodily injury can be caused in one of two ways:

  • Directly – For instance, when you hit someone with your car, causing them harm
  • Indirectly – For instance, if you were to leave tools out and a client trips over them, resulting in injuries

Property damage – This entails financial protection for things. If you are at fault in an accident and wreck someone else’s property, or if you or an employee are working and damage a third-party’s items, it would help cover the costs. 

It’s important to note that bodily injury liability doesn’t cover you or your employees in the event of a car accident or injury, it covers other people (referred to as ‘third parties’) that you harm while driving or working. 

Bodily injury limits

When it comes to auto insurance and bodily injury, most auto liability insurance packages come in two forms:

Combined single limit – Your policy offers a single coverage number that you can choose to divide between property damage and bodily injury.

Split limit policies – With a split limit, you receive two numbers for coverage They are:

  • Limit per person – The maximum amount the insurer will cover for injuries to an individual in an accident
  • Limit per accident – The maximum amount the insurer will cover for all the individuals involved in the accident

Bodily injury limits are determined on a state-by-state basis. Florida, for example, doesn’t require any limits, while Alaska has minimum liability coverage limits of $50,000/$100,000. 

What does bodily injury liability insurance cover?

So, what does bodily injury liability insurance cover when claims are filed? 

There are a few specific ways that bodily injury liability insurance policies can provide financial protection, including:

Medical expenses – Bodily injury insurance can help cover the medical bills and emergency care to a third party. It may include follow up visits to the doctors or the physical therapy sessions necessary to rehabilitate the injury.

Legal Fees – If the third party files a lawsuit against you or your business, bodily injury liability insurance could help cover the costs of hiring a legal team to defend you from the claim.

Lost wages – Should the injured party be unable to work, or if their work is impacted by their injury, insurance coverage would help them recoup lost wages for this time period.  

Pain and suffering – As we’ll discuss below, this category can be a grey area that depends upon the insurance, but in some cases, the third party may be able to claim damages for lingering emotional distress resulting from the injury. This may mean additional expenses are expected to be compensated for long-term implications.

Funeral costs – If the final result of the incident is fatal, the insurance may help cover the costs to perform a funeral service. 

Mental anguish from bodily injury – Although it depends on the general liability policy, some policies apply the broader definition of bodily injury we covered earlier. With these types of policies, bodily injury may include mental anguish, fright, shock, or humiliation, but these psychological injuries are only covered if they’re a direct result from a physical injury.  

For instance, while a potential client visits your manufacturing plant, they suffer a severe injury. Should this injury hamper their ability to live life normally, they can experience psychological hardship, including mental anguish, fright, shock, or humiliation. 

This psychological injury would only be covered if it’s a direct result of a physical injury. 

Thimble: protecting your small business from bodily injury claims

Even if you take every precaution possible, injuries to clients or third parties can happen. When all it takes is one serious bodily injury claim to hurt a business, you need to protect yourself with a general liability insurance policy. 

But how do you make sure that you’re covered? 

Meet Thimble, the better way to protect your small business through all of its ups, downs, twists and turns. Thimble provides small businesses with affordable, on-demand general liability policies by the hour, day, or month. 

Getting a policy via Thimble takes no time at all. Simply download the Thimble mobile app or click “Get a quote,” and input a few details about your business in order to receive a free quote. Then, click purchase. All it takes is sixty seconds.

In less than a minute, you can protect yourself and your business from claims of bodily injury. You’ll spend less time worrying about unexpected accidents, and more time focused on your business. That’s Thimble: hassle-free insurance, now. 




Our editorial content is intended for informational purposes only and is not written by a licensed insurance agent. Terms and conditions for rate and coverage may vary by class of business and state.

Related Articles

caution side for premise liability
Insurance 101

Premise liability insurance 101

Also known as “slip and fall insurance” premise liability involves personal injury on your property. But an injury doesn’t mean you’re liable. We explain the nuances in this guide.

Read More
dram shop liability
Insurance 101

Dram shop liability 101

If you sell or serve alcohol, you run a dram shop. Use this guide to understand dram shop laws and liquor liability so you can focus on growing your business.

Read More