15 April 2022 By Admin
As a business owner in California, it is important to understand that you are operating in one of the most litigious states regarding ADA violations. The Americans with Disabilities Act is there to protect the rights of disabled people, and businesses are required to comply with all of the relevant accessibility standards it sets out. However, the unfortunate reality is that many individuals take advantage of the ADA and California’s Unruh Act to file malicious lawsuits for a fast buck! The best defense against such lawsuits is to make sure that your business is fully compliant with the help of an ADA concrete contractor.
Let’s take a deep dive into what you need to do if your business could be facing an ADA lawsuit.
Let’s start with the basics. What is an ADA lawsuit? The Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA as it is more commonly known, was passed to protect people with disabilities from discrimination. Everyone should be entitled to full access to accommodations, services, public facilities, and businesses regardless of physical or mental impairment. One of the key elements of the ADA is that businesses must make specific allowances to make themselves accessible to all in accordance with precise standards. This includes, but is not limited to:
Any violation of the ADA standards leaves your business vulnerable to a federal ADA lawsuit, resulting in a lengthy legal battle, hefty fines, and a horrible reputation for your business. With almost 1 in 4 adults identifying as disabled, do you really want to be known as a business that turns away people with disabilities? In addition to the federal lawsuit, any violation of the ADA is also considered a human rights violation under California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act. Each individual violation carries a $4,000 penalty. So, as you can see, an ADA lawsuit could get expensive very quickly. The best defense is working with an ADA concrete contractor to become compliant before the lawsuit happens - and it will happen eventually!
Under California law, you can have your property inspected by a Certified Access Specialist or CASp to document how accessible or not your property is. These individuals are certified by the Division of the State Architect to inspect sites for compliance with ADA Title III. They will provide a report detailing any violations they find and suggest solutions for resolving them. This document allows you to have ‘qualified defendant status’ in the event of an ADA Lawsuit. Essentially this means that you can delay legal proceedings until you have time to address the accessibility issues highlighted during the CASp inspection. It is seen as a sign of Good Faith that you are actively working on resolving your violations.
Suppose you have already been handed an ADA lawsuit. In that case, you can still arrange a CASp inspection to verify the validity of the claims in the lawsuit, but this will not offer you qualified defendant status. That will only apply if the inspection occurs before a lawsuit is filed.
While a CASp certificate can help buy time if you are hit with an ADA lawsuit, the best form of defense is to remove any architectural barriers that affect the accessibility of your business. If there are no ADA violations, then there can be no lawsuit! An ADA concrete contractor can help you resolve any accessibility issues on your property, from making sure you have the appropriate amount of accessible parking to widening doors to accommodate wheelchair users and everything in between. The guidelines of Title III of the ADA are very specific, and they leave little room for error. Even a few millimeters can make the difference between compliance and a lawsuit. That is why you need to work with an experienced ADA concrete contractor rather than a general contractor. It would be best if you had someone with a firm grasp of the guidelines, ensuring that you are fully compliant from street level to entry.
The perception is often that complying with the ADA is expensive, but it doesn’t have to be! In fact, when you compare the cost of removing architectural barriers to the cost of a federal lawsuit, the construction work is a bargain! It is important to understand that committing to becoming ADA compliant is an investment in the future of your business. First and foremost, you are protecting yourself from legal issues in the future, but there are other benefits to consider. There are over 7 million disabled adults in California, which is about 25% of the population. That’s a quarter of your potential customers. Making your business accessible to everyone will help it grow. It is also important to note that in 2022, we live in a society with high regard for ethical and socially responsible businesses. ADA compliance is one way to show that you are committed to serving your entire community, not just the able-bodied ones. The truth is, your business cannot afford NOT to be ADA compliant!
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Why Wait to be "Forced" into ADA Compliance. If you are a public business or public property owner, save money, lawsuits, time and headaches by being prepared and avoiding it all in the first place. It’s time to call in the ADA pros. Use Protrk, an ADA construction expert, to Get it Done Right Prior to Forced Compliance.
Call 415-813-9877 today or visit www.protrkconstruction.com for more details.
Being involved in ADA design and construction has given me the opportunity to help a lot of business owners and commercial property owners prevent costly ADA compliant lawsuits.
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