The ADA and Drive-By Lawsuits

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) exists to ensure that Americans are not taken advantage of or unjustly discriminated against based on disability. This Act protects these individuals every day, but recently attorneys have utilized Title III of the ADA to go on the offensive. Major metropolitan areas have become laden with lawsuits against restaurants, bars, and other retail establishments regarding Title III of the ADA. Luckily, a solution has been produced to aid business in combating these types of suits.

A business owner may be at risk without even knowing. A simple ramp that does not conform to the standards of the ADA, an improper measurement of handicapped parking space, or a too-narrow entrance leaves one liable to the Title III suit. An attorney may reach out to settle for a few thousand dollars with the claimant never having visited the premises. If no settlement can be reached, filing a suit is the next step where the defendant is asked to fix any barriers that can be regulated in Title III of the ADA. Title III provides regulation on many areas of the business from bathrooms and seating to the parking lot.

The courts have decided that most every remedy as regulated by Title III is “readily achievable” for the establishment. Being “Readily Achievable” is determined by many factors, including the owner’s financial situation.

There are questions as to what can be done to mitigate this risk and prevent a suit from occurring. Consulting with an attorney to decide whether there exist any deviations in regulation in the establishment is one way to get in front of the issue. Doing so will not only uncover federal regulation, but also state, county, and city guidelines that must be followed.

Another way to be proactive is to consult an insurance professional. Employment Practices Liability (EPL) with third party discrimination coverage won’t pay for the remedy if determined “readily accessible”, but it will trigger a legal defense and pay related expenses. Depending on the type of business, there are also customizable policies that will cover both the remedy and the defense costs.

These suits are continuing to increase and are a real problem for business with high customer traffic. Taking preventative steps will ensure the continuation of the business in the future. Talk with a McGowan Agent today to discuss options in mitigating Title III liability.