ADA Lawsuits On The Rise

| Friday, January 9th, 2009 | Comments Off on ADA Lawsuits On The Rise

In an economy gone sour, as money becomes scarce, individuals and firms become more desperate to generate cash.  Already on the rise in California are lawsuits brought against mainly small businesses for not being compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  A place of public accommodation that is deemed to have inaccessible elements can be considered as being discriminatory, carrying heavy fines, especially if a business attempts to comply but fails to do so according to the stringent code demands.  Largely because of the complexity of both Federal and State statutes and regulations (which at times are conflicting), over 95% of all the businesses threatened with an ADA lawsuit settle.  Given the increasing difficulty of finding a job, the temptation to bring suit becomes overwhelming especially because ADA complaints are legitimate complaints.  Often, disabled individuals work around the problem, but for a few plaintiffs and attorneys (who, of course, claim that business owners never make the right changes unless they are threatened), the temptation of getting quick settlement cash has led to thousands of businesses in California being threatened with an ADA lawsuit.  Settling may make the lawsuit go away — but it often leaves the businesses with a problem:  How does a business know how to properly comply to avoid a future lawsuit?

Yours Truly Accessibility Corporation (YTA) is a code consultation firm specializing in ADA compliance.  YTA works on the side of small businesses to avoid lawsuits so they can fix the problem immediately. Below is a list of four common accessibility problems YTA notes that small businesses often face:

1. Lack of proper signage.  Having the International Symbol of Accessibility on the main entrance is required by law.  But having proper signage to restrooms and other goods and services helps the vision impaired and individuals who are mobility impaired.  Placing the correct sign improperly on an inaccessible element can signal that a business does not really know anything about accessibility and is an easy target for a lawsuit.

2. Counter height is important, especially when dealing with little people, or wheelchair users.  Installing a counter too high, too low, or too narrow, can defeat the purpose of designating a counter as being accessible.

3. Kick plates on doors.  Doors made outside of California often have too much exposed glass.  Since wheelchair users use their foot rest to push open a door, a non-compliant glass door poses a hazard.  Not having enough smooth surface on the bottom of a door can also pose a trap, since the spokes of the wheelchair can be caught on a protrusion on the bottom of the door.

4. Inaccessible tables.  Restaurants or eateries that do not have accessible tables can accidentally cause their disabled patrons humiliation and inconvenience.  A lack of the proper number of accessible tables can send the message to willing customers that they are not welcome in the establishment.  Having a table that is too high or too low, or the space under the table too shallow or too narrow may defeat the purpose of designating the table as being an accessible accommodation.

Believe it or not, compliance with accessibility law can be very inexpensive — a few dollars for a sign (or even just moving an existing one) can save you tens of thousands of dollars in liability.  Moreover, compliance can qualify you for huge tax credits, which YTA can help you arrange.  Call 1-866-982-3212 or email help@accesssolutionllc.com if you have any questions.

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