That’s the question Chicago asks in the song of the same name on their classic 1969 debut album, Chicago Transit Authority (here’s a link to the original version before it was shortened for radio play). When it comes to the deadlines for bringing legal claims, not knowing the time will indeed give you “time enough to cry.” That’s because the law sets deadlines, called statutes of limitation, by which legal claims must be pursued. If those deadlines are missed, the claim can no longer be made in court, no matter how strong the facts and law may be to support it.
To complicate things, these deadlines vary depending on the nature of each case. For example, if a person has an employment discrimination claim under Minnesota law, it must be brought as a civil action in district court or filed as a charge with the Department of Human Rights or local human rights commission within one year of the discriminatory act. In contrast, most Minnesota personal injury claims must be pursued within six years of the injury, but claims for libel, slander, assault or battery must be commenced within two years. Some other statutes of limitations are as long as ten or fifteen years, while some are shorter than one year. Each state has its own set of statutes of limitations, and federal laws have their own time limits.
To further complicate matters, companion laws sometimes have differing time limits. Employment discrimination claims under federal law, for example, generally must be filed as administrative charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission within 180 days of the discriminatory act. That deadline is extended to 300 calendar days if a state or local agency enforces a law that prohibits employment discrimination on the same basis. So, the same set of facts may be subject to a 300 day time limit under federal law but a one-year time limit under state law.
Calculating the deadline set by a statute of limitations can be especially tricky when the claim is based on an ongoing course of conduct. This is common in employment discrimination cases where the wrong is a pattern of discrimination or harassment that continues over a period of time.
Missing these deadlines has devastating consequences, for after they pass it is nearly impossible to resurrect a claim. Therefore, if you ever think you have a legal claim against someone else, do not delay getting legal advice. Do not wonder what time it is: contact an attorney as soon as possible so that they can evaluate not only the merits of your case but to also help determine these all-important deadlines. If you miss them, there will definitely be time enough to cry.
For more information about this article, contact Tom Jacobson, Derek Trosvig or any of the other attorneys at the Swenson Lervick Law Firm: 320-763-3141.
Disclaimer: This article is for general informational purposes only and is not legal advice. For legal advice regarding your particular situation, please retain an attorney as soon as possible so as to not lose any legal rights you may have.