In California, since last year's enactment of legislation SB1186, the Disability Access Act, there has been a rise in filings of ADA lawsuits in California against real estate property owners and small business owners for failure to comply with the ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act) requirements and the related California Unruh Act. If you find yourself involved in an ADA lawsuit, here are a few important things you should do:
1) Immediately consult with an experience California ADA defense attorney who has defended ADA lawsuits.
2) Immediately identify what is being alleged as non-complying and determine the cost of fixing the alleged problem. Also work with your California ADA defense attorney to determine if you should do, or have done, a CASp inspection, and how they may or may not help to avoid penalties.
3) If you have not done a proper CASp inspection, and/or you know what the problems may be, you might want to fix the problem that is alleged in the lawsuit as soon as possible, especailly if the modifcaiton would only cost a few thousand dollars or less. It is impotant to note that with the new California ADA law, if the ADA modification is completed within 30 days of being served with the ADA lawsuit, and you are a small business (as defined), then the statutory damages may be cut in half - $2,000 instead of $4,000.
4) These lawsuits are often a race to the courthouse because they allow the recovery of only Plaintiff's attorney's fees. There are ways to minimize the calim for attorneys fees and an experienced ADA california defense lawyer can guide you through the process, especally if the California ADA defense attorney or law firm is retained quickly upon learning of the lawsuit.
Since these lawsuits are often mostly about attorney's fees, it is important to cut off the damages as quickly as possible. This in turn will minimize your damages and may help achieve an early settlement.
If you have any questions about California ADA lawsuits, please contact our office.