How long do people with disabilities have to sue over inaccessibility?

The statute of limitations clock does not start ticking until the problem is resolved, says one Colorado court

Concrete steps with no curb cut or handrails
Photo by Tanner Vote on Unsplash

Statute of Limitations

Statutes of limitations (in a civil setting) are laws that set the maximum time that someone who feels that they have been legally wronged has to initiate legal proceedings. Many times in civil court, before the facts of the case are even discussed, the defendant will make a motion for dismissal (i.e., ask to be let off the hook), claiming that the plaintiff did not file the case before the clock expired on their statute of limitations.

Case Law

Most judges aren’t big fans of making new case law — that is making a new legal interpretation where none others previously existed. Typically the judges go through the following hierarchy in choosing which cases they want to cite in their written ruling to support their opinion.

  1. Is there *binding* law that is close but not exactly on point — that is from a Court of Appeals, or Supreme Court whose authority the court comes under that is in an area where parallels can be drawn?
  2. Is there *non-binding* (sometimes referred to as persuasive) case law — that is directly on point, but from a different, non-binding jurisdiction?
  3. And finally, is there persuasive case law — that is related but not directly on point from a different, non-binding authority?

When Does the Statute of Limitations Start Running for ADA Cases?

The Hamer case mainly had to do with whether a lower Colorado court was correct in tossing out Mr. Hamer’s case because he waited too long to file against the City of Trinidad. Mr. Hamer alleged that the city failed their obligation to follow the ADA by only partially fixing broken sidewalks that he could not negotiate in his powerchair.

  • The 10th Circuit Court of appeals rejected the lower court’s interpretation, saying that as long as ADA violations were remaining, the statute of limitations had not yet started to run.

Blogger, disability advocate, nerd. Bringing the fire on ableism. A11y Architect @ VMware. Wheelchair user w/ a deaf daughter. CS, Law, and Business background

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