What is Standing to Sue?

lawsuit notice with fountain pen

Standing to sue is a legal principle that describes the right of an individual to file a lawsuit against a negligent party. Not everyone is automatically entitled to bring suit, however. Standing to sue is built on three essential elements: injury in fact, causation, and redressability. A plaintiff and his or her attorney must be able to prove each of these elements in order to pursue a settlement in or out of court. 

Standing to Sue Elements

Injury in Fact

The first element of standing to sue is called  “injury in fact.” This means that the party bringing the lawsuit must have suffered a concrete injury due to someone else’s negligence. The injury must be more than hypothetical or speculative harm: it should be tangible and directly related to the legal dispute at hand. In most cases, the injury must be physical; however, the nature of severe injuries entails a certain level of mental suffering and loss of enjoyment of life. Your attorney can help you seek damages regarding these issues as well. 

If a person has no direct injury, he or she would lack standing to file a lawsuit. For example, the spouse of someone who was injured in a slip and fall accident would not have grounds to sue because he or she was not directly injured by the accident. 


The second element of standing to sue involves establishing a causal connection between the alleged injury and the defendant’s conduct. The party bringing the lawsuit must demonstrate that the defendant’s actions or omissions were the primary factor in causing the harm suffered. 

If a victim cannot prove that the alleged liable party is the cause of the injuries, they may lack standing for a lawsuit. For example, if someone perceived aggression from another driver, he or she may have reacted in a way that led to swerving into another vehicle or driving off the road. The causation of this accident would be hard to prove. Was the accident really caused by the aggressive driver, or was it caused predominantly by the decisions of the person being tailed? 


The third element of standing to sue is redressability. This requires the court to be capable of providing “redress,” or relief, for the plaintiff’s injuries. In other words, even if the court determines that the defendant caused the harm, the legal action must have the potential to rectify or alleviate the injury. Monetary compensation is generally the redress in question, and it must be sufficient and relevant to the needs of the plaintiff. 

Types of Personal Injury Cases with Standing to Sue

In general, there are a few types of cases that meet the elements of standing to sue. These include:

Car Accidents

Car accidents that result in injuries and property damage usually satisfy the requirements to file suit, especially if the injuries are severe and life-altering. The party bringing suit does not necessarily have to be completely blame free, either. Colorado’s comparative negligence laws allow car accident victims who may have partially contributed to the accident to seek compensation, so long as they were less than 50% at fault. 

Truck Accidents

Trucks are inherently dangerous vehicles due to their size and weight. Collisions with trailer trucks can be especially severe. Drivers should be properly trained and rested, with correctly loaded cargo and a routinely inspected vehicle. Skipping any of these steps can cause a trucking accident and potentially catastrophic injuries. You may have standing to sue not just the driver, but the trucking company and other responsible parties. 

Slip and Fall Accidents

As in our example above, slip and fall accidents are often associated with lawsuits. Property owners have a duty to keep their premises free of hazards, or at least identify potential hazards with proper signage. Failure to do so may be the cause of an injury-in-fact, which can be redressed by a monetary settlement for medical bills, loss of wages, etc. 

Defective Products

Products that do not work as advertised, that are damaged, or have inadequate labeling can pose a danger to consumers. Negligence that goes unchecked by a manufacturer or brand can lead to serious injury or illness, which deserves legal redress. 

Dog Bites

Dog owners must keep pets within the home or otherwise contained from the public. If an animal is improperly restrained and injures someone on public property, the injured party has the right to sue. Premises liability may also apply to private visitors who were injured by a dog, so long as they were invited onto or into the property. 

Personal Injury Attorney Colorado

When in doubt, consult a qualified personal injury attorney to determine if your case has standing to sue. In Colorado, the skilled lawyers at The Roth Group will review your options with you and help you decide whether or not to take legal action. If you have been injured and it wasn’t your fault, please contact our office or go online today to schedule a free consultation.