Three Elements of Standing to Sue

Proving standing is essential to a personal injury case. If you lack standing, you cannot proceed with your case; your claim will be dismissed. The opposing party or parties will do everything they can to get the case dismissed by the court before it gets out of the gate.

If you are filing a lawsuit, or authorized to file a claim on behalf of another, it is essential to consult with an experienced personal injury, in part due to the challenge and complexity of proving the elements of standing to sue.

Standing to Sue in South Florida Personal Injury Matters

Standing is a procedural requirement that a “plaintiff” have a stake or interest in a case before they can bring it to court. You actually have to have been affected by the conduct of the defendant in order to sue the same.

For example, car accident cases are a very common personal injury matter. A driver who sustained physical injury as the result of the conduct of another driver would have a clear stake in that case. You must prove standing in any personal injury matter, including medical malpractice cases, wrongful death, and more.

The Three Elements of Standing

Standing is comprised of three distinct elements: (1) injury in fact (that you suffered harm); (2) causation (that defendant caused harm); and (3) redressability (that compensation is available).

All three of these elements must be shown in order to prove you have standing to sue. The court will scrutinize each of these elements, analyzing the facts of the case and any relevant law. Your opposing party will attempt to attack each element; your failure to show any one of these elements will result in dismissal of your matter.

The definition of standing is informed by numerous Florida state case decisions (e.g., Chandler v. City of Greenacres). With case law constantly evolving, and all other parties and the court scrutinizing your claim, you need an experienced attorney to help you navigate these issues and give your case a fighting chance.

Injury in Fact

The definition of injury in fact is relatively straightforward. You must have suffered actual harm to sue a defendant. The harm can’t be speculative or based on what might happen in the future. Injury includes physical injury, such as broken bones from an auto accident or paralysis from a botched surgery (e.g. – medical malpractice).

However, you can also prove this element if there is “injury” to your other interests, including economic interests. For example, if the defendant’s conduct impacted your job, resulting in lost wages or even termination, you may be able to show injury in fact.

Causation

One of the most difficult elements to prove—in any case—is causation. You must allege facts that indicate the defendant caused your harm 

At first glance, it may seem fairly simple. Party B caused injury to Party A. His car hit me and I broke my foot. Sometimes, it may be that straightforward. Other times, causation will be a battleground for you and the opposing party to argue in court.

Many factors play into causation. Essentially, you must prove that “but for” the conduct of some other party, an injury would not have occurred. This requires proving a “nexus” or connection between the conduct and injury. But other factors may come into play, such as the injured party’s own conduct. Your own conduct can impact your ability to prove causation, even early on in a case.

Further, the actions of a third party may have caused the injury, further complicating matters.

Redressability

The third and final element is redressability. Essentially, you have to show that the courts can provide some sort of relief to help correct the injury. If the court cannot redress your injury, you have no standing.

Redress can take the form of ordering monetary compensation. For example, if you suffered an injury and required medical treatment, redressability against a negligent party could include compensation for medical bills related to the injury. Other forms of redressability may include imposing penalties and/or ordering other types of relief.

Contact an Experienced South Florida Personal Injury Attorney For Help

If you’ve been injured in an accident or by the conduct of some other party, you may have a personal injury claim. The best way to determine if you have standing is to consult with a personal injury lawyer. They can review your case and to determine your legal options for recovering compensation.