Standing to sue another person or party is a legal principle. Not everyone has the standing to sue. If you have the standing to sue, it means that you have a legal cause of action that supports the filing of a lawsuit.

People file lawsuits to settle disputes. Standing does not have anything to do with whether you have a valid dispute. Standing only relates to your legal right to file a lawsuit in court.

Standing also helps ensure that the case is ready for a court to hear. It prevents cases from being filed that have issues the court cannot address or have yet to cause injury to an individual or group.

What Three Elements Must You Meet to Have Standing to Sue?

Kentucky uses the federal test for constitutional standing set forth in the case of Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife. In the Lujan case, the U. S. Supreme Court defined the three elements for standing.

The three elements of standing to sue are:

Injury in Fact

Did the person filing the lawsuit (the plaintiff) sustain an injury? In other words, did you sustain a physical injury because of the wrongful or negligent acts of another party?

For example, did you sustain a traumatic brain injury or a broken bone in an automobile accident? Injuries can also relate to economic losses. For instance, did you incur a loss of income or medical bills because of a slip and fall accident?

The injury or harm must have occurred before you file your lawsuit. The harm cannot be a hypothetical or future claim based on something that could happen.

Causation

Can the injury be traced to the party you are suing (the defendant)? A jury decides if the defendant caused your injuries based on the evidence you present in court.

However, there must be some initial evidence that establishes a reasonable link between your injuries and the defendant’s actions or omissions to get your foot in the courthouse door.

Redressability

There must be some way for the court to redress your injury or harm. For example, in contract cases, the court could order the defendant to perform the actions required by the contract.

However, in a personal injury case, the court cannot undo the plaintiff’s physical harm or emotional distress. Therefore, the court awards a monetary judgment to compensate the plaintiff for damages caused by the other defendant.

What Types of Damages Can Be Awarded in a Personal Injury Case?

If you have standing and prove your case, you can receive compensation for a variety of physical, financial, and emotional damages.

The types of damages in a personal injury case include:

  • The costs of medical treatment and care
  • The costs of personal care, including care in a long-term care facility
  • The loss of income and benefits, including future lost wages and decreases in earning potential
  • Emotional distress, mental trauma, and physical pain and suffering
  • Scaring, disabilities, permanent impairments, and disfigurement
  • Loss of enjoyment of life and decreases in quality of life

The value of a personal injury claim depends on the facts of the case. The jury uses the evidence presented in court to determine a fair amount to compensate the plaintiff for damages.

Can I Lack Standing Even if I Sustained Injuries?

There are cases in which a person might have sustained injuries and harm, but they do not have the standing to file a personal injury lawsuit. For example, if the statute of limitations has expired on your claim, you may not have the standing to file a lawsuit. The Kentucky Statutes of Limitations place deadlines on filing specific claims, including claims involving personal injuries and negligence.

Minors lack standing to file lawsuits. A person must be at least 18 years old to file a lawsuit on their own behalf. Until that time, parents and guardians generally have standing to file lawsuits on behalf of minors.

The same is true about a person who is incapacitated because of a mental condition. If that person has a legal claim, the person’s legal representative must file the lawsuit. The court may also appoint someone to file the lawsuit on behalf of an incapacitated adult.

How Can I Find Out if I Have Standing to File a Lawsuit?

The best way to find out if you have standing to sue someone is to talk to a personal injury lawyer. The lawyer analyzes the facts of your case to determine if the case meets the legal requirements for standing. If so, an attorney advises you of your legal options for seeking compensation for your injuries and damages.

However, as stated above, there are deadlines for filing lawsuits in Kentucky. Do not delay in seeking legal advice for your injury claim.