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Professional ADA litigants in California are targeting small businesses. In fact, California businesses face the highest number of handicap accessibility lawsuits in the nation. Thankfully, there are a number of ways to defeat ADA claims and protect your business from future lawsuits. Speak with a Southern California ADA defense attorney at our firm to discuss your specific case.
Make no mistake, providing equal access to all is the right and legal thing to do. No business owner wants to prevent people from entering and enjoying their business. But there are attorneys and plaintiffs taking advantage of these laws for serious financial gain at the expense of the business owner. Our ADA defense attorneys help businesses fight back against this type of aggressive lawsuit. The State of California legislature has received a lot of pressure from business advocacy groups and local representatives to help mitigate the damages businesses face from these harassing lawsuits. As a result, a few changes were made to the California Code that can help reduce, and in some cases, avoid, liability in ADA lawsuits. For example, repairing the access defects in your small business within 30 days of being served will reduce potential damages from $4,000 to $2,000 per visit. Some limitations and exceptions apply. Also, there are a number of defects that business owners can fix within 15 days of being served that will completely remove the business’ liability. This only applies to minor features like repainting faded blue lines or putting up the proper signage. Again, there are specific limitations and exceptions, so make sure to consult an ADA defense attorney in California before attempting to remedy the situation on your own.
The problem with these damage reduction measures is that they are extremely time sensitive so a business needs to act fast! It is important that when a business is served with an ADA lawsuit, they respond quickly. Most businesses do not even realize they are not compliant and have no intention to violate these rules. Making swift repairs to your business is the best course of action and puts you in a favorable light with the court.
The ADA is the American with Disabilities Act. It is a set of laws and rules put in place at the federal level to protect the rights of our disabled citizens in the United States. These laws are meant to ensure that all people receive an equal opportunity to access places of public accommodation. Any business that opens its doors to the public must follow these rules. Failure to follow these rules may subject them to a lawsuit. These laws also extend to the state level in California, through what is called the Unruh Civil Rights Act. The Unruh act generally maintains the same parameters the ADA prescribes as to what it means to have equal access for public accommodations, but it allows for money damages pursuant to California Civil Code Section 52(a). This section states that a place of public accommodation denying access to a disabled person under Unruh may be liable for $4,000 in damages for each visit.
The Center for Disability Access, Potter Handy, Ascension Law Group, So. Cal. Equal Access Group, Law Offices of Ross Cornell, Manning Law Office, Disabled Advocacy Group, Scott Lynn J. Hubbard, David Wakefield, Dennis Price, Mark Potter, Raymond Ballister, Phyl Grace, Craig Cote, Joseph Manning.
Many businesses attempt to remedy the defects in disability access but come short. They read the complaint served on them, find that the Plaintiff complains of an inaccessible parking space, a transaction counter, or a bathroom sink and make corrections accordingly. However, even if the Plaintiff’s complaint mentions a violation it may not be the only thing wrong with your business. The Plaintiff usually reserves the right in the complaint to find additional violations at a later date. So how do you combat this and ensure repairs are made right? The first step is to hire a Certified Access Specialist (CASp) to inspect your business. A CASp inspector is specially trained to identify the defects for disability access at your business. Once all repairs are made it’s important to bring the inspector back to verify repairs were made properly. Doing this ensures that you will never be sued again as long as you maintain it.
You only have 21 days to respond (federal law suits, or 30 days for State lawsuits) in court. Delay in response can lead to default judgements that could make the lawsuit cost a lot more that it was supposed to.
Tumer & Sharif has defended many small and medium-sized businesses all over Southern and Central California. We have handled a large number of these lawsuits and know how to defend them in both State and Federal Court. Every case is different and deserves a proper analysis before deciding on your strategy. In many instances, it is impossible to make repairs to the property or the property simply cannot offer a disability access feature. In other situations, quick and accurate repairs can lead to good results. Our team has the experience with ADA law to navigate your lawsuit with the best possible outcome. Our goal is to bring your out of a lawsuit with the lowest possible cost to you. Again, time is of the essence in these cases so act quickly, get the proper advice and make repairs to get the best opportunity to win.