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3 Elements of Standing to Sue

Before you can file any type of lawsuit, you must be able to establish your legal standing to sue. Legal standing is discussed in the federal constitution. In general terms, Florida’s standing law requires someone to have a “stake” or “interest” in the outcome of a case. 

Standing to sue means that you have the right to file a lawsuit. While a great many injustices may occur at any moment in time, you cannot make a legal claim unless you can show that you have been directly impacted by it. There are three legal elements that you must be able to show you have standing to sue. 

The three legal elements of standing to sue include:

Injury in Fact

First, you must show that you were injured in fact. An injury may be a physical one, such as a traumatic brain injury or a spinal injury. Or, it could be a financial injury, such as lost wages or property damage. It is not enough to show that you could be injured. You must show that you were injured before you file the lawsuit. You must be able to prove the injury through evidence. 

Causation

Second, you must be able to show a causal link between the defendant’s actions and your injuries. In other words, the named defendant must be responsible for the harm you’ve suffered. The court uses a general but-for test to make this determination. For example, would the victim have suffered injuries in the car accident but for the defendant’s texting and driving

Redressability

Third, you must be able to show that the court has a way of providing relief to you. While the court cannot bring back a loved one in a wrongful death case, it can award you financial damages to ease some of the financial burden brought on by the premature death.

In most civil cases, the court provides relief through financial damages. These damages provide compensation for losses, such as:

  • Past, present, and future medical expenses
  • Past, present, and future lost wages
  • Reduced earning capacity 
  • Permanent impairments or disability
  • Disfigurement or scarring
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of enjoyment of life 

While the jury determines the value of these losses, the court is only primarily concerned with whether the victim has suffered these types of losses at this stage of the case.  

The standing legal definition can be difficult for non-lawyers to understand. Here are a couple of explanations of how legal standing works in personal injury cases:

Car Accident 

Andrea was waiting at a red stoplight when she was suddenly hit from behind by another motorist. She suffered painful whiplash. It was later discovered that the other driver was distracted at the time of the accident by texting and driving. Andrea probably has legal standing to sue because she was injured, the other driver likely caused the car accident, and the court can make Andrea whole by awarding her financial compensation. 

Slip and Fall 

Martin hurts his back when he slips and falls on a wet floor in a grocery store. Martin had to undergo surgery to fix his back and has incurred thousands of dollars in medical bills. Martin would probably have standing to sue the grocery store because he suffered an injury, the store may have been responsible for the accident by failing to wipe up the floor, and he has damages for which the court can provide redress. 

Contact the Tampa Personal Injury Law Firm of Winters & Yonker, P.A. for Help Today

Having legal standing does not necessarily mean that you will win your case. Instead, it is only one of many thresholds that you must be able to meet in order to advance your case. An experienced lawyer at Winters & Yonker, P.A. can help you understand your legal rights and options when you call for a free consultation. 

For more information, please contact Winters & Yonker, P.A. to schedule a free consultation with a personal injury lawyer in Tampa today. We have five convenient locations in Florida, including Tampa, Clearwater, St. Petersburg, New Port Richey, and Lakeland.

We proudly serve Hillsborough County, Pinellas County, Pasco County, Polk County, and its surrounding areas:

Winters & Yonker, P.A. – Tampa Office
601 W Swann Ave, Tampa, FL 33606
(813) 223-6200

Winters & Yonker, P.A. – Clearwater Office
600 Bypass Dr Suite 224-D, Clearwater, FL 33764
(727) 493-4418

Winters & Yonker, P.A. – St. Petersburg Office
111 2nd Ave NE Suite 350, St. Petersburg, FL 33701
(727) 314-5988

Winters & Yonker, P.A. – New Port Richey Office
5006 Trouble Creek Rd Unit #206, Port Richey, FL 34652
(727) 910-5060

Winters & Yonker, P.A. – Lakeland Office
1543 Lakeland Hills Blvd Suite 18, Lakeland, FL 33805
(863) 251-6196

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