Brian White | January 18, 2022 | Personal Injury
When you are injured in an accident due to another party’s negligence, you may assume you have the right to file a lawsuit against that person. However, while you might be able to file a lawsuit, the court may dismiss the case if you lack standing. Standing is a legal concept addressed in the United States Constitution, state laws, and court decisions.
What is Meant by Standing?
Standing refers to a person’s legal capacity to bring a lawsuit. Article III of the United States Constitution limits cases of judicial power to “controversies” and “cases.”
The United States Supreme Court affirmed that the court only hears disputes between parties, not disputes about the law. Therefore, questions to be decided by the court must arise from a specific dispute between the parties.
Texas laws require that a person has an interest in the case’s outcome to have standing to file the lawsuit. In personal injury lawsuits, victims have a clearly defined stake in the case’s outcome. The case’s outcome determines whether they receive compensation for their injuries and damages.
What Are the Three Elements of Standing to Sue in Texas?
Texas state courts have decided motions to dismiss for lack of standing cases similar to the requirements in the United States Constitution. There are three elements required to have the standing to sue in Texas:
Injury in Fact
When suing another party, you must have sustained a direct injury. The injury may be a physical injury, as in the case of a truck accident or bicycle crash. However, the injuries alleged may also include financial losses, such as lost wages and medical bills.
The injury must have been sustained before you filed your lawsuit. Courts will not hear cases that include a hypothetical injury or risk of being injured. Furthermore, you must have a personal stake in the outcome of the case and be the appropriate party to assert the claim.
The plaintiff must have a direct relationship between the alleged injury and the matter to be adjudicated. In other words, the wrongful acts or negligence you allege the other person committed directly caused your injuries and damages.
When a judge decides standing, they do not make a ruling regarding causation. That is for a jury to decide at the end of the trial (or the judge to decide if it is a trial without a jury).
The judge merely views the evidence in the pleadings to decide disputes related to standing. The judge is looking to see if there is a reasonable chance that the defendant’s conduct or behavior caused your injuries. If so, you have standing to sue.
Having standing to sue does not mean you will win your case. It only means there appears to be some link between your injuries and the defendant’s conduct that can be resolved through a court proceeding.
Redressability is the court’s capacity to offer the injured party some type of relief for the harm. Because the court cannot undo physical injuries and pain & suffering damages, it can only offer monetary compensation as redress for a personal injury claim.
- Expenses and costs for past, present, and future medical treatment and care
- The cost of nursing care, personal care, and long-term care facilities
- Loss of wages, overtime pay, bonuses, benefits, and other forms of income
- Future lost wages and decreases in earning potential
- Scarring, impairments, disabilities, and disfigurements
- Loss of quality of life and enjoyment of life
In a personal injury trial, the jury decides how much your damages are worth. But, first, the jurors must determine you met all of the legal requirements to prove that the defendant is legally liable for your damages.
Are There Situations Where a Person May Have a Claim but Lack Standing to Sue?
Yes, there are some situations where a person sustained an injury, and there is a causal link between the injury and the defendant’s conduct. However, the person lacks the standing to sue for another reason.
For example, minors and mentally incapacitated individuals do not have the standing to sue on their behalf. The court does not recognize that they can make decisions for themselves. Therefore, a person with the authority to act on the injured party’s behalf or a court-appointed guardian may file a lawsuit on the person’s behalf.
In many situations, the child’s parents would file a lawsuit. For an incapacitated adult, a person with a power of attorney or a court-appointed guardian or conservator would file the lawsuit.
The defendant must raise a lack of standing as an affirmative defense. The court will not take the matter upon itself to decide without a motion to dismiss for lack of standing. Failing to raise the defense means the defendant has waived the defense.
The best way to know whether you have standing to sue is to consult an experienced Houston personal injury attorney.
Contact the Houston Personal Injury Lawyers at Attorney Brian White Personal Injury Lawyers For Help
Attorney Brian White Personal Injury Lawyers
3120 Southwest Freeway, Suite 350
Houston, TX 77098
Attorney Brian White Personal Injury Lawyers – East Fwy
11811 East Fwy, Suite 630-06
Houston, TX 77029
Attorney Brian White Personal Injury Lawyers – South Loop
2600 S Loop W, Suite 293
Houston, TX 77054