We’re a clumsy bunch. Unlike a herd of graceful gazelles, we humans have a way of hurting ourselves and each other in daily life. Despite our best intentions, accidents happen, making bodily injury liability coverage essential for any small business. But what does bodily injury liability cover?

General liability insurance and auto insurance both include bodily injury liability coverage, which helps you pay for the medical expenses associated with another person’s injuries.

This post will give you the knowledge you need about bodily injury liability, from what it is to how to get coverage, coverage limits, and what you should think about beyond the injury itself.

What is bodily injury?

“Bodily injury” is a legal term that describes physical harm caused to a person’s body. If an accident or incident causes a third party pain, illness, or even death, that’s a bodily injury.

You can’t talk about bodily injury without talking about risk. Regardless of what your line of work is, there are always risks. While some humans are more sure-footed than others, there’s always a risk of workplace accidents.

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 a customer slips on your restaurant’s wet floor and hurts themself.

Whether you’re a contractor whose client trips over a tool you left on the ground, leading to a shoulder-breaking fall, or a customer cuts her hand on broken glass during an event you organized, accidents are almost impossible to prevent. Thankfully, bodily liability coverage offers you the safety net your business will need sooner or later.

What is bodily injury liability?

In legal terms, a “liability” is a legal obligation between two parties around something that one party owes the other. Bodily injury liability coverage protects you from having to pay for the settlement of claims resulting from physical injury to a third party when you are found to be responsible for the accident that resulted in their injuries. Keep in mind that a “third party” is someone other than the Named Insured or anyone else covered by an insurance policy, and someone other than an employee (for that, you’ll need workers’ compensation.)

Let’s say an employee with a heavy foot crashes the forklift while unloading a delivery truck at your warehouse, causing a serious injury to the delivery driver who was standing nearby. Bodily injury liability insurance can help you cover the settlement of claims for such an accident.

Almost every general liability insurance policy includes bodily injury liability coverage in line with the definition from the Insurance Services Office (ISO). This type of coverage includes three primary categories: personal injury to the body, sickness, and disease.

What does bodily injury liability cover?

When thinking about standard bodily injury coverage, here’s something you might not know: If you face a claim for bodily injury, there’s a lot more on the table than just the physical injury.

You must think about secondary issues an injury might cause, which could seriously impact the injured person’s life in the long term. From medical bills to time off work, a bodily injury claim can quickly escalate into a real problem if your business doesn’t have the right coverage.

Here are a few specific ways that bodily injury liability insurance can provide financial protection against claims made against your business, including:

  • Medical expenses: Bodily injury insurance can help cover a third party’s medical bills and the cost of emergency care. It may include follow-up visits to the doctors or the physical therapy sessions necessary to rehabilitate the injury.
  • Defense costs: If the third party files a lawsuit against you or your business, bodily injury liability insurance provides the investigation and legal defense for those types of claims brought against you and your business, even if the claims are baseless.
  • Lost wages: Should the non-employee injured party be unable to work, or if their injury impacts their work, a bodily injury liability claim would help them recoup lost wages for this period.
  • Funeral costs: If the final result of the incident is fatal, a bodily injury liability claim may help cover the costs to perform a funeral service.

Does bodily injury liability cover pain and suffering?

This category is somewhat of a grey area. Whether bodily injury liability covers pain and suffering will vary, depending on the general liability insurance you get for your business.

Some policies apply a broader definition of bodily injury to include subcategories of bodily injury that were caused by the injury, sickness, or disease, such as:

  • Mental anguish or injury, including PTSD
  • Mental injury
  • Shock, fright, or humiliation
  • Insomnia and/or fatigue
  • Anxiety, muscle tension, and/or elevated heart rate

Note that the insurance will only provide coverage for these psychological injuries if they’re a direct result of a physical injury sustained in the initial incident.

Imagine a potential client visits your shop, and they suffer a severe injury. Should this injury hamper their ability to live life normally, they can experience psychological hardship. The third party may be able to claim damages for lingering emotional distress or any long-term implications resulting from the injury.

Bodily injury limits

With general liability insurance via Thimble, third-party claims of bodily injury can be awarded up to $1 million or $2 million.

However, when you hear the phrase “bodily injury liability limits,” it generally refers to auto insurance. Although Thimble does not offer auto insurance, it may be helpful to know that most auto liability insurance packages come in two forms:

  1. Combined single limit — Your policy provides a single coverage amount that you can choose to divide between property damage and bodily injury.
  2. Split limit policies — With a split limit, you receive two numbers for coverage. They are:
    1. Limit per person — The maximum amount the insurer will cover for injuries to an individual in an accident.
    2. Limit per accident — The maximum amount the insurer will cover for all the individuals involved in the accident.

Some states require stated minimum limits of bodily injury liability to be maintained by general liability policyholders. Florida, for example, does not stipulate any minimum bodily injury liability limits whereas Alaska requires a minimum bodily injury liability limit of $50,000 per person and $100,000 per accident.1,2

Thimble: protecting your small business from bodily injury claims

All it takes is one serious bodily injury claim to hurt your business, so it makes no sense to ride your luck without a general liability insurance policy. Even if you take every precaution possible, accidents that result in injuries to clients or another third party could happen at any time.

So, how do you make sure that you’re covered?

Meet Thimble, the insurance provider made to move with all the twists and turns a small business faces. We provide affordable general liability insurance policies that work when you do.

We make general liability insurance so simple that you can get your new policy in less than 60 seconds. Just download the Thimble mobile app, input a few details about your business, and get an instant quote. With coverage from Thimble, you can worry less about accidents, and focus more on growing your business.

Sources

  1. Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. Florida Insurance Requirements
  2. Value Penguin. What is the Minimum Car Insurance Required in Your State? 

Written on March 31, 2020 | Modified on: August 27, 2021

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.