One of the first things every lawyer learns is who is entitled to file a lawsuit, and when. If you haven’t been to law school yourself, you may not be familiar with the concept of “standing.” Standing is the legal term for determining whether a person can sue another person or entity. If you don’t have standing, your lawsuit will be dismissed.
Here’s what you need to know about standing.
What is Standing?
Imagine that you read someone drove drunk and killed a stranger. What’s stopping you from suing the drunk driver? You probably wouldn’t even try, because you weren’t personally affected by the case.
That is the essence of standing. If you don’t have standing—that is, you weren’t directly and personally affected—you don’t have the right to file a lawsuit. Similarly, you can’t file a lawsuit against someone who almost or could have harmed you. Article III of the United States Constitution provides the federal basis for standing, and state courts have affirmed similar rules.
The definition of who was personally affected can vary, based on the case.
Who Has Standing to Sue in a Personal Injury Case?
There are three elements that determine standing to sue:
- Injury in fact: You have suffered a direct injury, which is usually defined as physical harm or an economic loss. Sometimes, like in wrongful death cases, you were harmed because the defendant’s actions led to the death of a close family member. The injury must have already occurred—you don’t have standing for future injuries.
- Causation: The defendant must have caused the injuries. In legalese, that means “but for” the defendant’s actions, you would have remained “whole.” In plain English: if the defendant hadn’t done something wrong, you would be in your original position.
- Redressability: Finally, there has to be something a court can do to make up for the injury. That could be paying for medical bills and property damage, changing a product’s design or imposing fines and fees as a deterrent.
This is a very simple overview of standing. The issue can become very complex depending on the case and area of law. However, in personal injury law, it’s usually quite straightforward. If you were the victim of an accident, you will usually have standing to sue the person or entity who caused the damage.
When you consult with attorneys, they will let you know whether you have standing.
Discuss Your Case with an Ohio Personal Injury Lawyer Today
When you’ve been harmed due to someone else’s negligence, I’ll Make Them Pay!® You may be able to recover damages for your losses, if you have standing to sue. Call me today at 877.944.4373 for a consultation.