Stephen Hasner | Personal Injury | May 4, 2021
When a person has standing to sue, it merely means that the court will hear the person’s case. If a person lacks standing to sue, the court will not hear the case, regardless of whether the person has evidence to prove that the allegations are true.
A party bringing a lawsuit must demonstrate they have “standing” to bring the lawsuit. This doctrine protects the judicial system from cases where there is no issue for the court to determine. It’s the first hurdle a person must clear to have their day in court. Standing does not imply that a person will or will not win their case.
What Are the Three Elements of Standing to Sue in Georgia?
Georgia courts use the elements of standing set forth in the federal case of Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife.
The U.S. Supreme Court defined the three elements of standing in Lujan as:
Injury in Fact
The person filing the lawsuit must have sustained a provable injury to obtain standing. For example, a construction worker that sustained a spinal cord injury during a construction accident would have an injury in fact. Likewise, a guest at a hotel that sustained a traumatic brain injury in a slip and fall accident would meet the requirement.
Standing requires that you sustained the injury before you filed the lawsuit. The harm cannot be based on a future claim or a hypothetical scenario of what could happen. You must have evidence that substantiates your claim of injury, such as medical records.
There must be a reasonable link between your injury and the actions of the other party. In other words, can you trace your injury to the other party’s negligence or wrongdoing?
The jury decides whether you prove the elements of negligence to win a personal injury case. However, the judge decides whether you have standing. For example, if a reasonable person could not find causation between your injury and a car accident, the judge may rule you do not have standing.
The courts cannot undo what happened to you or erase the damages caused by the incident. You must demonstrate that the court can provide some type of remedy that would be suitable.
In personal injury cases, the court cannot undo the injuries caused by an accident. However, it can award a monetary judgment to compensate the accident victim for their damages. The financial award meets the element of redressability for standing to sue in a personal injury case.
Common Damages Awarded in a Personal Injury Case
If you have standing to sue and you prove the required legal elements for a personal injury claim, the jury may award you damages. Damages in a personal injury case may include economic damages (financial losses) and non-economic damages (pain and suffering).
Examples of the types of damages that you could receive after winning a personal injury lawsuit include:
- Medical treatment, including hospitalizations, physicians’ bills, medications, medical equipment, therapy, etc.
- The loss of income and benefits, including commissions, self-employment income, bonuses, salaries, wages, and decreases in future earning potential
- Physical pain, discomfort, and suffering
- Mental anguish and emotional distress, including PTSD, depression, and anxiety
- Permanent impairments, disabilities, scarring, and disfigurement
- The loss of enjoyment of life and decreases in quality of life
The value of a personal injury claim depends on the severity of your injuries, the duration of your recovery, the total financial losses, and other factors. If you are partially to blame for the cause of your injury, your compensation for damages may be reduced by your percentage of fault for the accident.
An experienced trial lawyer uses the evidence to build a case for full compensation of all damages. A jury uses the facts of your case to determine the amount of money you should receive for damages.
If you were injured in an accident, seeking legal advice is one of the best ways to protect your right to fair and just compensation for your injuries.
Do Minors Have Standing to Sue in Georgia?
No, minors do not generally have standing to sue in Georgia. You must be at least 18 years old or an emancipated minor to file a personal injury lawsuit. Until a child reaches. The child’s parents or guardians have the right to file a lawsuit on the child’s behalf seeking compensation for injuries and damages.
The same rule applies to a person who is incapacitated because of a mental condition. A guardian or legal representative would need to file the personal injury lawsuit on behalf of the person. The court could also appoint a person to file a lawsuit for a minor or incapacitated person.