June 2, 2022 | Oklahoma Law
Could a group of law students intrigued by a legal question simply file a lawsuit to prompt the court to answer? No, they couldn’t; they lack standing to sue. To maintain a lawsuit, you must have legal standing. The opposing party can file a motion to dismiss your lawsuit without standing. If you cannot respond by proving that you have standing, the judge will dismiss your case.
Article III of the US Constitution addresses standing, and some state laws also speak on the topic. The purpose of the requirement for standing is to avoid clogging the courts with frivolous lawsuits. To establish standing to sue, you must prove the following three elements.
Injury in Fact
If you suffered physical harm or financial loss, you have suffered “injury in fact” (some exceptions apply). “His driving scared me to death” probably won’t establish standing unless you suffered consequential symptoms, such as PTSD.
Breaking your leg after falling on someone’s slippery floor, by contrast, probably does meet the “injury in fact” requirement for standing.
To establish standing, you must prove causation. Causation is also one of the four primary elements of a personal injury claim. However, causation in the context of a challenge to your standing to sue is easier to prove. You need to prove a significant causal link between the defendant’s behavior and the injury you suffered.
The judge will be looking for a form of causation known as “but for” causation — but for the defendant’s act or omission, you would not have suffered harm. Establishing this causal link might be enough to get you into court. Nevertheless, you might need stronger evidence of causation to win your claim once you get there.
An injury is redressable if the court has a way of providing compensation for it. Courts typically offer money damages to the winner of a lawsuit. In rare cases, they might offer “specific performance”—a court order for the defendant to do something, such as transfer a parcel of land to the claimant. Usually, however, money is the only remedy.
The question of redressability boils down to, “Can the injury you suffered be redressed by money damages?” In other words, are your damages quantifiable?
Most people (us included) believe that life is priceless. Nevertheless, Oklahoma courts put a price on human life every time they rule in favor of a claimant in a wrongful death lawsuit.
Oklahoma personal injury and wrongful death claimants typically seek money damages for the following types of losses:
- Medical expenses;
- Lost earnings;
- Diminished earning capacity;
- Child care and housekeeping expenses;
- Expenses paid for support, maintenance and education;
- Funeral and burial expenses;
- Pain and suffering;
- Mental anguish;
- Loss of enjoyment of life;
- Loss of consortium (intimacy);
- Companionship and love; and
- Parent-child relationship.
These are not the only possible redressable losses in a personal injury/wrongful death lawsuit. There are not very many kinds of losses that a court is unwilling to redress with money damages.
Contact a Lawyer
Even if you lack the standing to sue, a lawyer might be able to find a way for you to gain standing. You might also need to gain standing to sue in a particular Oklahoma county. Either way, you probably need a lawyer to maximize your chances of success.
Once you gain standing, of course, you are at the starting gate, not the finish line. You will probably need a lawyer to assist you at least as far as an out-of-court settlement goes and even more so if the case reaches trial.
Contact the Oklahoma City Personal Injury Lawyers at McGuire Law Firm Today for Free Consultation
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