3 Elements of Standing To Sue

If you were injured in an accident and are considering filing a lawsuit against someone, you may hear various legal terms that can impact your case. One such term is “standing,” which is a person’s legal right to file a lawsuit. 

In federal court, there are three elements of standing to sue. However, California takes a different approach. An experienced personal injury lawyer can explain legal standing and whether you have it.

Some cases, such as product liability cases in which various consumers in different jurisdictions are injured by a manufacturer’s defective product, may involve suing in federal court

The three legal elements of standing to sue in federal court are:

Injury in Fact

The first requirement to sue is that you were injured in some way. This might be a physical injury, such as one you suffered in a car accident, or financial harm, such as damage to your reputation or lost wages. The injury must have already occurred; you cannot sue based on a hypothetical injury. 


The party you sue must be the one who is responsible for your injuries. 

The court does not decide when you file the lawsuit that the defendant actually caused your injury. However, you must be able to show that your injury is “fairly traceable to the challenged conduct.” If there is no connection between your injuries and the named defendant, you would not be able to show this element or bring your claim.


It is not enough that you show you were injured. Instead, you must be able to demonstrate that the court has the ability to provide you with relief. 

In personal injury cases, this is usually in the form of the award of damages, which compensate you for losses such as:

An experienced lawyer can evaluate whether you can meet these three requirements when filing a case in federal court. 

California deals with the legal issue of standing differently than federal court. Here, the question is whether you are someone who is directly affected by the legal dispute you are suing about. California courts will require that there be an “actual controversy” based on “some recognized or cognizable legal theories.” 

In personal injury cases, this requirement is typically easy to prove: you were injured because of the defendant’s negligence. You can’t be the relative of someone who was injured (unless you’re their guardian or filing a wrongful death case). You can’t be a bystander who witnessed someone else being harmed if you did not suffer damages. Standing shows that you have the legal right to ask the court for help. 

Even though California does not have a general standing law like the federal law, there are state laws that have specific requirements regarding who can sue, such as:

Under these laws, you must be a particular type of party who is affected in a certain way before you can sue. 

How Standing Can Affect Your California Personal Injury Case

Whether or not you have standing can have a big impact on your case. If you cannot show you have standing, the defendant can seek an immediate dismissal of your case. Your case can be dismissed before you ever have a chance to argue it. 

On the other hand, if you can show you have legal standing to bring a case, this does not mean you automatically win your case. Instead, it simply means that you have the right to bring the case. 

If you have any questions about legal standing, contact a San Diego personal injury lawyer for help.

Contact the San Diego Personal Injury Law Firm of Mission Personal Injury Lawyers Today To Get More Information

If you’ve been injured in San Diego or Chula Vista, please call Mission Personal Injury Lawyers for a free case evaluation with a personal injury lawyer or contact us online.

We proudly serve San Diego County and throughout California.

Mission Personal Injury Lawyers
2515 Camino del Rio S Suite 350, San Diego, CA 92108

(619) 777-5555

Mission Personal Injury Lawyers – Chula Vista Office
690 Otay Lakes Rd #130, Chula Vista, CA 91910
(619) 722-3032

We also serve the state of Texas. Contact our personal injury law office in El Paso for legal assistance today.

Mission Personal Injury Lawyers – El Paso Office
201 E Main Suite 106, El Paso, Texas 79901
(915) 591-1000