Bruised, Bloody, or Broken: Indiana’s Three Types of Bodily Injury

September 02, 2016

By Keffer Hirschauer LLP

Indiana statutory code defines many aspects of our lives a Hoosiers and how we look at bodily injury is no different. However, Indiana has not stopped at simply defining bodily injury. Indiana recognizes three different levels of bodily injury, which can be vitally important in legal determinations from criminal charges and sentences to the legal use of lethal or deadly force.

Bodily Injury is defined as “any impairment of physical condition, including pain.” I.C. 35-31.5-2-29. The Indiana Supreme Court set a bright-line standard regarding what constitutes bodily injury in 2012. The Supreme Court indicated that Indiana would not set a threshold level for the amount of pain required, and that even poking or shoving were sufficient so long as they caused the victim pain. The Supreme Court openly noted that, in Indiana, “a defendant commits a battery at his peril,” because bodily injury can be inflicted without bloodshed, visible wounds, or medical treatment.

Moderate Bodily Injury is defined as “any impairment of physical condition that includes substantial pain.” I.C. 35-31.5-2-204.5. This level of bodily injury has not been substantially addressed by the Indiana Court of Appeal or Indiana Supreme Court and so we can only look to the plain meaning of the words. Essentially, and simply, one is looking for injury more substantial than plain bodily injury, but less than serious bodily injury.

Serious Bodily Injury is defined as “bodily injury that creates a substantial risk of death or that causes: (1) serious permanent disfigurement; (2) unconsciousness; (3) extreme pain; (4) permanent or protracted loss or impairment of the function of a bodily member or organ; or (5) loss of a fetus.” I.C. 35-31.5-2-292. This level of bodily injury is generally reserved for the most egregious injuries (examples include: limbs amputated after gunshot wounds and a leg broken in four places by a pool cue).

While moderate and serious bodily injury are defined under law, the interpretation of these definition may be less than clear. And a prosecutor’s interpretation of the statutes may determine whether a battery is charged as a Class B Misdemeanor or as high as a Level 5 Felony. Also, an individual may be justified in using deadly force against another individual if that individual reasonably believes it is required to stop the other individual from inflicting serious bodily injury upon him. Finally, bodily injury and its various levels are constantly evolving and being added to more and different criminal offenses. As such, it is imperative that individuals know their rights and remember the Supreme Court’s warning, “a defendant commits a battery at his peril.” For more information specifically about battery charges, check out our website at

Looking for an attorney who can see the difference? Contact us today if you have questions or believe your constitutional or criminal rights have been violated. We stand ready to provide our clients with trusted representation and accurate information regarding the law and its application to their individualized case. Act now and contact us today at (317) 857-0160.