A plaintiff cannot bring a lawsuit unless they have established that they have been impacted by the conduct of the entity being sued. This is called “standing.” While the requirements to show standing depend upon the applicable laws in each state, federal Constitutional law has established three main requirements for standing to bring a lawsuit: injury in fact, causation, and redressability.

Injury in Fact

Injury in fact means that the plaintiff has been affected in a concrete, measurable way by the actions of the defendant. Someone who is just a concerned citizen, but who has not been personally harmed by the conduct in question, will generally not have standing to sue. The plaintiff must have suffered a concrete injury and not a moral or hypothetical one.

For instance, a plaintiff generally cannot sue the government because they think the government has not spent tax dollars well (except in some religious freedom cases). Such harm is not sufficiently specific to the plaintiff to meet the injury in fact requirement. A plaintiff may have standing to sue a company whose worker does not exercise due care while on the job, and whose lack of due care harms the plaintiff. If an employee’s failure to mop up a spill causes a customer to slip and fall and break her hip, that customer has suffered an injury in fact.

A plaintiff cannot bring a claim for an injury that has not happened yet. It must be an actual or imminent injury. Continuing the example above, a plaintiff cannot sue the store simply because they have noticed a spill on the floor if they have not slipped and fallen. They must either have fallen or almost fallen for the injury to be actual or imminent.


In order to have standing to sue a defendant, the defendant’s conduct must have caused the injury. For example, a store may be responsible for failing to monitor and clean up spills within a reasonable amount of time. However, being pushed to the ground by a fellow customer is not a result of the store’s conduct; rather, it is a result of the other customer’s conduct. 

In this example, the original customer would not have standing to sue the store because their injury could not be traced to the store’s conduct.


A redressable injury is an injury that can be compensated, or redressed, by a judgment in the plaintiff’s favor. Specifically, the injury must be able to be compensated adequately by the damages that the plaintiff requested in the complaint. These damages can be economic or non-economic. If the injury cannot be properly compensated by a court judgment, then a lawsuit is likely not the best route for the plaintiff, and the plaintiff likely does not have standing. 

An example of a redressable injury is one that is correctable by surgery. In this example, if the plaintiff has requested that the defendant pay the plaintiff’s medical costs as damages, then a judgment in favor of the plaintiff can compensate them for the costs of medical care for the injury. 

In other words, the payout from the lawsuit can make the plaintiff whole. However, if the relief requested cannot remedy the injury, then the redressability requirement for standing is not met. 

Departures From This Rule

Courts may raise the barriers to proving standing where there is a risk of steep or cumulative penalties to defendants under certain state laws. For example, the United States Supreme Court raised the barriers to establishing standing to sue under the Biometric Information Privacy Act in Illinois because of the heavy fines per violation that the act imposed on violators.

Some states, including Georgia, explicitly apply the three-part test for standing outlined in the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife. Other states, including Kentucky, Tennessee, and North Carolina, do not apply this test. If you plan to bring a lawsuit, you should consult a lawyer about the state law that governs your lawsuit.

For more information, please contact the personal injury lawyers at Hawk Law Group at our nearest location to schedule a free consultation today.
We serve throughout the Central Savannah River Area and it’s surrounding areas:

Hawk Law Group – Augusta, GA
338 Telfair St, Augusta, GA 30901, United States
(706) 722 3500

Hawk Law Group – Evans, GA
4384 River Watch Pkwy, Evans, GA 30809, United States
(706) 863 6500

Hawk Law Group – Thomson, GA
146 Railroad St A, Thomson, GA 30824, United States
(706) 361 0350

Hawk Law Group – Waynesboro, GA
827 Liberty St, Waynesboro, GA 30830, United States
(706) 437 9122

Hawk Law Group – Aiken County, SC
156 Laurens St NW, Aiken, SC 29801, United States
(803) 226 9089

We also serve in Edgefield County, SC.