Jason Stephens | December 9, 2021 | Personal Injury
One must have standing before they can bring a lawsuit against someone. If you file a lawsuit and the defendant files a motion to dismiss alleging that you do not have standing to sue, the judge will have to evaluate the situation.
If the judge determines that you do not have standing to sue, your case will likely get thrown out of court. There are three elements of standing to sue.
What Does “Standing” Mean?
The legal system uses the concept of standing to limit the number of people who can file lawsuits and to ensure that lawsuits are not frivolous. For example, you might see a story on the news about a drunk driver who injured someone. You cannot file a lawsuit against that driver, no matter how outraged you are, if you do not have standing to sue.
The three elements of standing to sue are injury in fact, causation, and redressable harm. The facts must satisfy all three elements of standing for the lawsuit to go forward.
Injury in Fact
The person filing the lawsuit (plaintiff) must have sustained an injury in fact. For purposes of standing, the plaintiff must have suffered physical harm or financial loss. Physical harm includes bodily injury. The harm cannot be speculative or based on what could happen in the future.
The element of causation requires the plaintiff to establish a link between the defendant’s conduct and the injury to the plaintiff. The defendant must have caused or contributed to the accident or incident that resulted in the harm to the plaintiff.
Using the grocery store slip and fall scenario, the plaintiff must show that some action or failure to act on the part of the defendant caused the plaintiff to fall and get hurt. If the defendant was not at fault, the defendant will not be liable.
Redressable Harm (Quantifiable Damages)
When you file an action in court, you need to ask the court to do something. For example, in a typical personal injury lawsuit, the plaintiff asks the court to order the defendant to pay money damages to the plaintiff for the harm they suffered.
The money damages you can pursue in any personal injury case will depend on the unique circumstances of your case. In general, one can seek economic and non-economic damages.
Some of the more common categories of compensation in personal injury cases include:
- Past and future lost wages. If you missed out on paychecks because of the accident, injury, medical treatments, and recuperation time, you could include this item in your lawsuit. This category can include lost wages, salary, self-employment, and other regular forms of income.
- Decreased earning capacity. You might not be able to make as much money after a severe injury as you did before getting hurt. If you have to decrease your working hours or take a lower-paying position because of ongoing impairment, you have a financial loss.
- Past and future medical expenses. Generally, the law allows you to recover the reasonable cost of the medical treatment you need for your wounds. After an accident, you might have bills for the ambulance, emergency room, diagnostic testing, imaging studies, hospital, surgery, doctors, physical therapy, and pain management, among others.
- Long-term impairment and disability. After completing your medical treatment, you might not be fortunate enough to experience a complete recovery of your previous physical well-being.
- Long-term care. People sometimes lose the ability to live independently after a catastrophic injury like spinal cord damage or head trauma.
- Equipment, adapted vehicle, home modifications. If your injuries leave you needing equipment like a wheelchair, an adapted vehicle, or modifications to the interior or exterior of your dwelling, you could seek to recover those expenses.
- Pain and suffering. This category addresses the physical pain and the emotional distress of getting injured.
- Intangible losses. Although they do not always come with receipts or invoices to measure them in terms of dollars, you might have experienced non-economic losses like disfigurement, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or loss of enjoyment of life.
These are but a few examples of the many types of money damages that can be available in personal injury lawsuits.
Not Allowed to Sue Even If Harmed
In some situations, an individual who gets hurt because of the carelessness of someone else might satisfy all three elements for standing to sue and still not have the legal capacity to file a lawsuit on their own. An incapacitated person or a minor will need to have the court appoint someone to take legal action on their behalf.
Contact an attorney if you have questions about your standing to file a personal injury lawsuit.