One of the most basic concepts in personal injury law is the notion of standing. This is the question of whether a particular claimant or plaintiff has the legal right to even ask an insurance company or a court to handle a case. You'll have to deal with this question early, and here are five things you'll want to know.
Victims Come First
Unsurprisingly, the person directly affected by the injurious incident is also the one who has the strongest standing. If someone else's conduct harmed you and you're an adult, you should have no trouble meeting the requirements for legal standing. You'll simply present your claim or case, and then the insurer or court will have to evaluate it.
Incapacity or Disability
Most issues regarding standing in personal injury law arise when the victim of an incident is incapable of participating in the process. For example, someone might have suffered a head injury so severe that they can't clearly understand the complexities of a claim or suit. Another party will have to file on the victim's behalf, and they'll have to prove they have standing.
Another scenario where someone other than the victim may file a case is if the victim is a minor. In these cases, it's almost always a parent, guardian, or person serving in loco parentis who files the case.
Establishing Standing if You Aren't the Victim
Legal standing in American personal injury law radiates outward from the victim. People who are the closest to the victim have the strongest claims to standing. For example, a spouse of an incapacitated victim will have just as strong of standing as their injured partner. Likewise, parents usually have an easy time establishing standing. Even if there are custody issues, the one with primary physical custody typically has the best claim.
As you progress further away from the victim's immediate family, the court becomes very skeptical of the right of a party to sue on behalf of the victim. That doesn't mean it's impossible. Generally, the filing party will have to provide evidence that shows they are the closest adult alive and available to pursue the case.
This can get challenging if there are competing claimants. For example, two siblings might both try to push a case. The court will usually favor whoever is providing the most support to the victim, especially someone who is providing help with medical and day-to-day-issues.