What is bodily injury? Bodily injury is a term commonly used in legal contexts, especially in personal injury cases. Bodily injury occurs when a victim suffers harm or impairment. Under personal injury law, victims can sue for bodily injury when it arises at the hands of a negligent party. Understanding what constitutes bodily injury is crucial for victims seeking compensation for their injuries and losses. 

Are you wondering whether your bodily injury qualifies for a personal injury claim? Call Ankin Law at 312-600-0000 for a free case review. 

Definition of Bodily Injury in Illinois

In Illinois, bodily injury is defined as physical harm, illness, disease, or impairment of a person’s physical condition. This definition encompasses a wide range of injuries, from minor cuts and bruises to severe trauma and permanent disabilities. Bodily injury can result from various incidents, including car accidents, slip and fall accidents, workplace accidents, medical malpractice, and assaults.

What Types of Injuries Qualify as Bodily Injury?

Numerous types of injuries qualify as bodily injury under Illinois personal injury law, including:

Soft Tissue Injuries

Soft tissue injuries involve damage to muscles, tendons, and ligaments and can result from sudden impact or repetitive strain. Common soft tissue injuries include sprains, strains, and contusions.

Fractures and Broken Bones 

Fractures occur when bones are subjected to excessive force or trauma, causing them to break or crack. Broken bones can range from minor hairline fractures to severe compound fractures requiring surgical intervention.

Head and Brain Injuries

Head and brain injuries are among the most serious types of bodily injury, often resulting from blows to the head or sudden changes in acceleration. These injuries include concussions, traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), and skull fractures, leading to cognitive impairment, physical disabilities, and emotional disturbances.

Spinal Cord Injuries

Spinal cord injuries occur when the spinal cord is damaged, resulting in partial or complete paralysis below the injury site. These injuries can have profound effects on mobility, sensation, and bodily functions, impacting every aspect of the victim’s life.

Burn Injuries

Burn injuries can occur in various accidents, including fires, explosions, and chemical exposures. Depending on the severity, burns can cause pain, scarring, disfigurement, and long-term complications requiring extensive medical treatment and rehabilitation.

Internal Injuries

Internal injuries involve damage to internal organs, such as the liver, spleen, kidneys, and lungs, and can result from blunt force trauma or penetrating injuries. Internal injuries may not be immediately apparent and can lead to life-threatening complications if left untreated.

The Impact of Bodily Injury on Victims

Bodily injury can have far-reaching consequences for victims, affecting every aspect of their lives.

Financial Burdens

Victims of bodily injury often face financial burdens, including medical expenses, lost wages, and ongoing rehabilitation costs. Medical bills can quickly accumulate, especially for severe injuries requiring hospitalization, surgery, and long-term care. Lost income due to missed workdays can further exacerbate financial strain, making it difficult for victims to meet their financial obligations and support themselves and their families.

Emotional Distress

Victims of bodily injury may experience emotional distress, including anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Coping with the aftermath of a traumatic event, adjusting to life with a disability, and facing uncertainty about the future can take a toll on a victim’s mental well-being, impacting his or her relationships, work, and overall quality of life.

Physical Limitations

Bodily injuries can result in temporary or permanent physical limitations, affecting mobility, dexterity, and overall functionality. Victims may require assistive devices, such as wheelchairs, crutches, or prosthetics, to perform daily tasks and maintain independence. Physical limitations can also impact a victim’s ability to engage in recreational activities, pursue hobbies, and participate in social events, leading to feelings of isolation and frustration.

When Can You Sue for Bodily Injury?

In Illinois, you can sue for bodily injury when you have suffered physical harm, illness, disease, or impairment of your physical condition due to the negligence or wrongful actions of another party. Understanding the circumstances under which you can pursue a bodily injury claim is crucial for protecting your rights and seeking compensation for your injuries and losses. The statute of limitations governs how long you have to sue. In Illinois, you have 2 years from the date of the injury to file your claim.

Negligence or Wrongful Conduct:

You can sue for bodily injury when your injuries result from the negligence or wrongful conduct of another party. Negligence occurs when someone fails to exercise reasonable care, resulting in harm to others. Examples of negligence that can lead to bodily injury claims include:

  • Car accidents caused by reckless driving, speeding, or distracted driving
  • Slip and fall accidents caused by hazardous conditions on someone else’s property
  • Medical malpractice resulting from a healthcare provider’s negligence or incompetence
  • Product liability claims arising from defective or dangerous products
  • Workplace accidents caused by unsafe working conditions or employer negligence

To prove negligence in a bodily injury claim, you will need to establish the four elements of negligence. These include:

Duty of Care:

To successfully sue for bodily injury in Illinois, you must demonstrate that the at-fault party owed you a legal duty of care. A legal duty of care is an obligation to act reasonably and avoid causing harm to others. 

Breach of Duty:

You must also prove that the at-fault party breached his or her duty of care, directly causing your injuries. A breach of duty occurs when someone fails to meet the standard of care expected in a given situation. 

For example:

  • A driver breaches his or her duty of care by running a red light and causing a car accident.
  • A property owner breaches the duty of care by failing to repair a broken staircase, leading to a slip and fall accident.
  • A healthcare provider breaches the duty of care by misdiagnosing a medical condition or administering incorrect treatment.
  • A manufacturer breaches the duty of care by selling a defective product that causes injury to consumers.


To succeed in a bodily injury claim in Illinois, you must establish a direct link between the defendant’s breach of duty and your injuries. This is known as causation. You must show that your injuries would not have occurred but for the defendant’s negligent or wrongful actions. Evidence such as medical records, eyewitness testimony, and expert opinions may be used to prove causation.


You must have suffered compensable damages as a result of your injuries. Compensable damages may include:

  • Medical expenses: Including hospital bills, surgeries, medications, rehabilitation, and ongoing medical care.
  • Lost wages: Compensation for income lost due to missed workdays, temporary or permanent disability, or reduced earning capacity.
  • Pain and suffering: Non-economic damages for physical pain, emotional distress, mental anguish, and loss of enjoyment of life.
  • Property damage: Reimbursement for repair or replacement costs of damaged property, such as vehicles or personal belongings.

By establishing the defendant’s breach of duty, causation, and damages, you may recover compensation for your injuries and losses through a personal injury lawsuit. Seeking legal guidance from an experienced personal injury lawyer can help you understand your rights, navigate the legal process, and pursue the compensation you need for your losses.

How a Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help You

Navigating the legal process after suffering bodily injury can be overwhelming, especially while dealing with the physical and emotional effects of the injury. A personal injury lawyer can provide invaluable assistance by:

  • Investigating the Accident: A lawyer can conduct a thorough investigation into the circumstances of the accident, gathering evidence, interviewing witnesses, and consulting with experts to determine liability and establish the extent of your injuries and damages.
  • Negotiating With Insurance Companies: Insurance companies often seek to minimize their liability and pay as little compensation as possible to victims. A lawyer can handle negotiations with insurance adjusters on your behalf, advocating for your rights and pursuing fair compensation for your injuries and losses.
  • Filing a Lawsuit: If a fair settlement cannot be reached through negotiation, a lawyer can file a personal injury lawsuit on your behalf and represent you in court. Litigation may be necessary to hold negligent parties accountable and secure full compensation.
  • Providing Legal Guidance and Support: Dealing with a bodily injury can be overwhelming, but a lawyer can provide guidance and support every step of the way. From explaining your legal rights and options to offering compassionate support and advice, a lawyer can help you navigate the complex legal process with confidence and peace of mind.

Bodily injury can have lifelong consequences for victims, affecting their physical, emotional, and financial well-being. If you’ve suffered bodily injury due to the negligence or wrongdoing of another party, seeking legal representation from an experienced personal injury lawyer is essential. A lawyer can help you understand your rights, pursue fair compensation for your injuries and losses, and rebuild your life after a traumatic event. In Chicago, contact Ankin Law to handle your bodily injury claim.