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What is Standing And Why Does it Matter?

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Posted on November 5, 2023

Suffering a sudden unexpected injury is always distressing but not all personal injuries have the legal standing for a lawsuit. If you or a close family member suffered a serious injury, the first thing an attorney determines during your initial case consultation is whether or not your case has standing in civil court. Before you consider filing a personal injury lawsuit in St. Louis or elsewhere, it helps to know exactly what the legal system means by “standing” to file a lawsuit or make a legal claim for compensation.

How Do Courts Define “Standing?”

“Standing” in legal terms refers to one party’s right to challenge another party in civil court. While criminal courts focus on punishing wrongdoers, civil courts exist to allow an injured party to seek redress through financial compensation. “Injuries” in court cases refer to all consequences of another’s actions with negative impacts on the victim. “Personal injuries” refers to actual physical injuries to one’s “person,” or body.

“Standing” is an individual’s ability and right to have their claim heard in court. Before a court accepts a claim or lawsuit, it first determines if a case has standing.

What Are the Elements of Standing in Court Cases?

The US Supreme Court ruled that no legal case exists if a plaintiff does not have a personal stake in a lawsuit’s outcome. This means that the plaintiff must have a legal “cognizable” interest in the outcome of a case for it to have standing in court. For the civil court to recognize a case, the following points must show that the plaintiff has standing:

  • An injury in fact: the plaintiff must be able to show that they have an actual injury that’s concrete and provable, not merely an idea or speculation
  • Causation: evidence must exist to show that the defendant in the case directly caused the injury to the plaintiff. For example, if a car accident victim suffers a heart attack a week after the accident, a medical professional would have to establish proof that the accident directly caused the heart attack
  • Redressability: a case only has standing if a favorable court decision redresses the injury. To redress an injury means to resolve, correct, or compensate for it in a tangible way. If a positive jury verdict wouldn’t resolve the victim’s damages, then the case doesn’t have standing.

Requiring a case to have standing before the courts accept it prevents frivolous lawsuits and unnecessarily crowded judicial dockets for meritless claims.

Does My Personal Injury Case Have Standing?

If you or your loved one suffered an injury directly caused by another party’s negligence, reckless behavior, or purposeful wrongdoing, and the injury caused significant tangible financial losses as well as provable pain and suffering, then your personal injury case has standing in court. This means you have every right to file a claim for damages. “The word “damages” in a personal injury case refers to the economic damages from the injury such as medical expenses and lost income as well as non-economic damages like pain and suffering.

If you sustained an injury, but no one else was at fault, a court will dismiss the case for lack of standing. Likewise, if someone else’s actions caused you an injury, but the injury was so mild that you didn’t require medical care and you were able to continue working in your normal capacity, you didn’t suffer damages. In this case, the courts won’t accept the lawsuit because even a positive verdict showing that someone else did indeed cause your injury wouldn’t provide redress since you did not suffer any damages.

Most Personal Injury Attorneys Address “Standing” for Your Claim During a Free Case Consultation

If you aren’t sure if your claim has standing, speak to a personal injury attorney about a free case consultation to evaluate the standing of your unique case. During your consultation, you’ll learn what you might expect from your claim.