Filing an insurance claim or lawsuit after a negligent party may help you recover compensation for your medical bills and other losses. However, a number of factors can influence whether or not you have standing to sue in a given situation.

In many instances, those who consider filing lawsuits are not sure whether they have the justification to do so.

What does it mean to have standing? Broadly speaking, standing means that you have the right to bring a civil action before a court and that there’s some way to make you whole. In other words, you have a legitimate and timely legal issue that a court can help with.

In general, you have standing to sue when the following three elements are present in your case.

Injury in Fact

You need to prove you (or a loved one) sustained actual harm in order to justify a lawsuit. You cannot sue for future harm that has not occurred yet or speculative injuries that may or may  not occur. However, the nature of the harm you might have sustained can vary on a case-by-case basis.

For example, perhaps you were injured in a slip and fall accident. This may have occurred because a property owner failed to address a hazard (such as a wet floor) in a reasonable and timely manner.

Meeting the “injury in fact” element of standing in this case would be easy. A physician could document your injuries and show they resulted from your fall. There are other cases where you could not prove standing because you have not suffered harm yet. 

Causation

Alleging that you sustained actual injuries is just the first step involved in establishing standing. You must also typically show that those injuries were sustained because another party was negligent.

To return to a previous example, maybe you were injured after slipping at the grocery store. Proving this was the cause of your injuries might not be difficult at all. However, to recover compensation, you must also prove you likely would not have slipped on that spill had another party not been negligent. Their actions caused you to fall, get hurt, and sustain damages.

In this case, that would likely require providing evidence showing the store’s employees should have known about the spill and cleaned it up or put out warning signs by the time your accident happened. You’d have to show that your accident and injuries were a foreseeable consequence of their actions.

Redressability

The final element of standing to sue concerns whether the legal system can do anything to compensate you for losses associated with your injury. For instance, your injuries resulting from an accident may have required costly medical treatment. The negligent party or their insurer could be forced to pay you for your medical bills.

If you have no damages, you would not have standing to sue. You also could not prove your negligence case.

Just be aware that the losses you may be compensated when suing can vary depending on certain factors. For example, after some types of accidents, victims may be able to recover compensation for non-economic damages such as pain and suffering. They usually cannot do so if they are seeking workers’ compensation benefits after an on-the-job accident.

Are you considering suing someone for damages? The best way to determine whether you have grounds to sue is to discuss your case with an attorney. A lawyer will review the details of your case and let you know whether you should take legal action.

For more information, call our law firm at (212) 514-5007 or send us an email by visiting our contact us page.