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What Are The 3 Elements Of Standing to Sue?

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Posted on May 16, 2023

Standing to sue is a legal concept that refers to a person having the capacity to file a lawsuit. It is referenced in the U.S. Constitution as well as state law in Florida. An individual must have a stake or interest in the outcome of the case to have legal standing. Before you bring a legal claim such as a personal injury lawsuit, you must find out if you have standing to sue.

Injury in Fact

First, you must show injury in fact. This means actual, specific damages that were suffered in the accident. Injury in fact may or may not refer to physical or bodily injuries. It can consist of various economic and noneconomic damages, including monetary losses, medical bills, lost wages, disability, property damage, and pain and suffering. The injury in fact must have been sustained before filing the lawsuit. Without any injury in fact or damages suffered, there would be no cause to bring the action.

Proving injury in fact typically requires supporting evidence that demonstrates the injury or losses sustained. This often involves medical records, x-rays, doctors’ notes, medical expert testimony, photographs, videos, bills, receipts and wage documents. Proving pain and suffering can be more difficult. This may require testimony from the victim or victim’s friends and family members, an official diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder, or an injury journal.


The second element of standing to sue is causation. This is often the most difficult to prove in a personal injury case. Causation refers to a causal link between your injury and the accused party’s (defendant’s) action or omission. The defendant’s failure to use a reasonable amount of care must have caused or greatly contributed to your accident. The but-for test is often used to determine causation; there must be evidence that your injury would not have occurred but for the defendant’s negligence. Negligence has four parts:

  1. Duty of care owed: the defendant had an obligation to exercise reasonable care.
  2. Breach of duty: the defendant committed an act or omission that fell short of the duty of care.
  3. Causation: the breach of duty is the thing that caused the accident and your injury.
  4. Damages: you must have quantifiable losses, such as injuries, from the accident.

There are two types of causation: actual and proximate cause. Actual, also known as factual cause or cause-in-fact, can be established using the but-for test. It is proof that the defendant’s actions were a direct cause of the accident. Proximate or legal cause is more complicated. It shows that an action by the defendant was close enough to the chain of events that triggered the harm to the victim to be legally valid. To have standing to sue, there should be evidence that the defendant’s actions were the proximate and actual cause of the injury.


The third and final element of standing to sue is redressability. This element asks whether the judicial system can provide relief to the filing party (plaintiff). While the court recognizes that it cannot reverse the injuries sustained by the plaintiff, it aims to provide justice and respite to an accident victim in the form of financial compensation from the defendant. This may mean financial reimbursement for past and future losses, including health care costs, losses of income and future capacity to earn a living, and intangible or noneconomic loss.

Find Out if You Have Standing to Sue

After getting into a harmful accident, contact a Tampa accident attorney to tell your story and find out if you have legal grounds to file a claim. At Vanguard Attorneys, we will review your case and be able to tell you whether you have standing to sue based on the circumstances. If so, we may offer to represent you during the legal process to help you prove all of the necessary elements and seek fair financial compensation.