Are You at Risk for an ADA Violation?

The number of ADA lawsuits continues to grow. Could you be targeted next?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination and ensures equal opportunity for persons with disabilities. One way the ADA does this is by ensuring that persons with disabilities have equal access to goods and services at all office buildings, shopping centers, and other businesses open to the public.

The Americans with Disabilities Act has been in effect for over 25 years, but the number of lawsuits has escalated in recent years for a variety of reasons, including “drive-by” lawsuits with the objective of receiving a monetary judgment.

You May Think You’re Compliant, but You’re Not.

Did you know that if you are improving your property, you need to make sure that you are also increasing the accessibility? In fact, if alterations are made to any primary function of your facility, you should spend an amount up to 20% of the cost of alterations on increasing accessibility to that altered area.

Do you have an accessible route from the public right-of-way to your accessible entrance? While most businesses and property owners know that they need accessible parking spaces, many do not understand the need for an accessible route from the public right-of-way. Generally speaking, every building constructed since 1994 should have at least one accessible route from the site arrival point (street, sidewalk, or transportation stop) all the way to the accessible entrance. Does yours?

Best Course of Action – An ADA Compliance Program.

For many owners, the cost of compliance is holding them back from making improvements. But is the hesitation worth the risk and an even more costly lawsuit? It is best to take a proactive approach and implement an ADA compliance program, rather than reacting to lawsuits which generate bad publicity and run up legal fees.

The good news is that improving the accessibility of your site is often readily achievable through inexpensive measures, such as relocating or restriping parking spaces and access aisles or installing the correct signage.

It’s important to complete ADA evaluations during your due diligence phase. Are you taking over a site liability? Are you going to need to immediately replace sidewalk and curb ramps? These are just a few of the issues that need to be considered before purchasing a new building or property.

While implementing compliance measures cannot guarantee protection from lawsuits, it can reduce your exposure and make your site more welcoming to potential tenants and customers. Through an ADA compliance program, a civil engineering consultant will identify shortcomings and help design a cost-effective action plan to bring your holdings into ADA compliance. Don’t wait until it’s too late!

Nave Newell has developed a unique ADA evaluation program that has been implemented at over 200 retail stores and commercial sites throughout the Mid-Atlantic Region.

For more information, contact Nave Newell’s ADA Expert, Jim Bannon at [email protected] or 610.265.8323.