Warning to all Business owners and commercial Property owners: Times are tough and there are rings of plaintiffs who are going around centers to find any small violations and sue you. The statutory penalty is up to $4000.00 per violation. With the average case costing business and/or property owners over $45,000.00 you can’t afford not complying. Being ADA compliant is good business. 20% of all Americans can be considered disabled and the number of “professional plaintiffs” will only grow. The purpose of the article is to give you a few points to help you before you get sued. Most of what I learned was from a very excellent attorney named David Peters, he is the lead counsel for “Lawyers Against Lawsuit Abuse” his website www.adalawsuits.com can give you much more detailed information on this subject.
- Get Compliant. Seems obvious, but can be a very complicated process. This begins by having a CASP Survey done. A compliance survey will cost you around $1000.00 and can provide you an important defense in the event of a lawsuit.
- Fix the “Red Flags”. The first of these is Parking. More than any other source lawsuits come from your parking lot. Many plaintiff attorneys use scouts to look for non-compliant parking lots. If the parking lot is 100% compliant in stems to reason that these scouts would just go onto the next building. Making parking renovations is one of the easiest and least expensive renovations that a business can make. Entrances are the next big item you can be sued for. Make sure door entrances are at least 32 inches in the clear, ramps are installed, the height of the thresholds are less than ½ inches. Also make sure nothing is blocking access to restrooms, doors, ramps, and parking. Restrooms: If you provide restrooms to the general public, they need to be fully accessible. There is a whole list of items needed for compliancy, its best to use an expert to help you design a proper bathroom.
- Use Common Sense: Look at your business or property, and imagine if you were disabled. How would you accomplish the things you would need to do as a customer or employee of that business.
- Video Monitoring: Invest in large number of hard drives and keep records going back for at least a year. Many times these plaintiffs never visit the sites, or if they visit the sites they don’t use the disable access arrangements, or show up without their wheelchairs.
This is the first of many articles I will be writing on the subject.