Bodily Injury Liability Insurance

What does this part of your liability insurance cover and how much do you need?
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Bodily injury liability coverage defined

Bodily injury liability coverage pays for the medical expenses of those harmed in a car accident that you caused. While it is meant to protect other motorists and pedestrians against injuries caused by you, it also protects you from having to pay for injuries out-of-pocket. Read on to find out more about this part of your liability coverage as well as how much is required in your state.

Key Takeaways

  • Liability insurance covers both bodily injury and property damage you've caused
  • States each require a specific amount of coverage (all except Florida)
  • Carrying minimum limits could leave you paying out-of-pocket in the event of a serious accident

Liability insurance and bodily injury coverage

Liability coverage is one of the car insurance coverage types most commonly required by states. It consists of two parts: bodily injury and property damage liability. Your liability insurance pays for the damages or physical harm that you cause to others in an at-fault accident. It’s important to note that liability insurance never pays for your own injuries or damage to your property. It only covers those who suffer injury or property damage as a result of your actions.

This type of coverage is offered by every car insurance company in varying amounts. Drivers are usually required by their state to have a specified limit of liability coverage in order to be legal. Find out more about liability limits below. 

How does bodily injury liability work?

Almost every state requires a mandatory amount of coverage in order to be considered a legal driver. This amount is often referred to as a limit. From an insurance company’s perspective, the limit is the total amount that they will pay to cover any claim against you.

Liability coverage is often written out in what’s known as split limits, which is listed on the declarations page of your policy like this: 25/50/25. Each number corresponds to a different coverage type. The first number refers to bodily injury per person, while the second number is the limit for bodily injury per accident. The last number refers to your limit for property damage.

Find out how each class of bodily injury coverage works:

bodily injury

What is a bodily injury liability limit?

The limit is the total amount that they will pay to cover any claim against you. It’s important to note that liability insurance never pays for your own injuries or damage to your property. It only covers those who suffer injury or property damage as a result of your actions.

Bodily injury per person

If you cause a car accident, this is the total amount that your insurer will pay for any individual person’s injuries. With a per-person limit of $25,000, for instance, your insurance company would only pay up to this amount regardless of the amount of the total bill. 

Bodily injury per accident

If you injure more than one person in an accident for which you are at fault, this number is the total limit to what your insurer would pay for all injured parties. For instance, with a per-accident limit of $50,000, there would only be $50,000 to cover all injuries. Remember that your insurer will never pay over the per-person limit for a single person’s injuries, regardless of where you set your per-accident limit.

What else does bodily injury liability cover?

You can expect your coverage to pay for the following:

  • Medical expenses: The resulting medical bills of those you harmed in the accident.
  • Legal fees: If you are taken to court because of your accident, this coverage can go toward covering the cost of your legal defense.
  • Lost wages: If the injuries you cause to another person while behind the wheel result in someone not being able to work, your bodily injury coverage could help cover wages lost.
  • Funeral costs: If you cause an accident that results in fatalities, bodily injury liability can help cover funeral expenses.
  • Pain and suffering: While it can be hard to show the exact emotional impact that an accident has caused, liability insurance will cover the emotional distress that you cause to another person. Some states may limit the amount allowed for such a claim.

What are the bodily injury liability limits in each state? 

To make sure that your insurance policy covers you appropriately, it may be important to consider a limit increase. The most common minimum requirement is 25/50/25, but most experts recommend limits of at least 50/100/50 for bodily injury and property damage liability ($50,000 per person, $100,000 per accident in bodily injury liability, and $50,000 per accident in property damage liability). Carrying only the minimum limits required can leave you exposed to risk. For the best body injury coverage, (and the most peace of mind) a limit of 100/300/100 is the way to go as it would cover most scenarios.

See below how much bodily injury insurance is required in your state.

State Bodily Injury Liability Limits (per person/per accident)
Alabama 25/50
Alaska 50/100
Arizona 15/30
Arkansas 25/50
California 15/30
Colorado 25/50
Connecticut 25/50
Delaware 25/50
Florida —/—
Georgia 25/50
Hawaii 20/40
Idaho 25/50
Illinois 25/50
Indiana 25/50
Iowa 20/40
Kansas 25/50
Kentucky 25/50
Louisiana 15/30
Maine 50/100
Maryland 30/60
Massachusetts 20/40
Michigan 50/100
Minnesota 30/60
Mississippi 25/50
Missouri 25/50
Montana 25/50
Nebraska 25/50
Nevada 25/50
New Hampshire 25/50
New Jersey 25/50
New Mexico 25/50
New York 25/50
North Carolina 30/60
North Dakota 25/50
Ohio 25/50
Oklahoma 25/50
Oregon 25/50
Pennsylvania 15/30
Rhode Island 25/50
South Carolina 25/50
South Dakota 25/50
Tennessee 25/50
Texas 30/60
Utah 25/65
Vermont 25/50
Virginia 30/60
Washington 25/50
Washington, D.C. 25/50
West Virginia 25/50
Wisconsin 25/50
Wyoming 25/50

Extra protection: umbrella insurance

If your liability limits are exhausted after an accident that you cause, your personal umbrella policy would kick in to cover any additional costs. Because of how rapidly hospital costs can accrue, this can be a good idea for high-net-worth individuals. Insurance companies typically require higher levels of liability coverage before an umbrella policy is offered. Coverage typically starts at $1 million and provides additional liability for your auto and home.

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Exceptions to carrying bodily injury liability 

There are some circumstances where carrying liability insurance is not required.

Sufficient funds in lieu of insurance

In some cases, your state may allow you an exemption if you can prove that you have sufficient funds to cover any damage that you may cause. This is often done by posting a bond with the state that is typically higher than the insurance limits required.

Combined single limit

Some states allow for what is called a combined single limit, which allows you to combine your limits to cover any combination of bodily injury and property damage liability claims. For instance, if you injure one person in an accident, instead of being limited to the per-person limit for bodily injury coverage, your bodily injury per accident and property damage limits could both be allocated to covering their medical expenses.


In general, it’s important to keep your bodily injury liability limits as high as you can reasonably afford. If you are concerned about the added costs of increasing your coverage, it may be time to compare rates and weigh your options.

The Zebra can help you find low-cost insurance quotes from top insurers, giving you the chance to receive quotes from multiple insurers and find an auto policy that is right for you.

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The amount of bodily injury liability insurance you need depends on several factors, including the minimum coverage required in your state, your assets and income, and the potential risks you face while driving. It's a good idea to speak with an insurance agent or financial advisor to determine the right amount of coverage for your needs. We generally recommend carrying at least 50/100/50, but consider what your peace of mind is worth — often paying a few dollars more per month for higher limits is much better than having to pay thousands out of pocket in the event of being underinsured!

Yes, if you do not have enough bodily injury liability car insurance to cover all of the other party's expenses, you could be sued for the remaining costs. It's essential to have enough coverage in the event of an accident. For example, imagine you have coverage of 25/50/25 and you seriously injure two people in a car accident. Person A's injuries are $30,000 and Person B's injuries are $60,000 — your insurance won't cover more than $25,000 for each of these injured individuals, leaving you on the hook for the additional $40,000. Depending on your financial situation, this type of scenario could lead to legal consequences.

The cost of bodily injury liability insurance varies depending on several factors (just like your collision or comprehensive coverage does), including your driving record, age, location, and the amount of coverage you need. However, it's typically not the most expensive part of your car insurance policy, and the peace of mind it provides can be well worth the cost, especially as liability claims have no deductible.

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