More and more so-called “drive-by” lawsuits are being filed across the country against small businesses, citing a lack of compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. These lawsuits earned their name due to the plaintiffs’ practice of driving around town and taking a picture of an accessibility violation and then filing a complaint with the courts. The plaintiffs literally "drive by" and attempt to collect cash based on nothing more than a photograph.
Plaintiffs never have to visit your property
In most of these civil complaints, plaintiffs have to prove either physical or monetary loss due to the actions of the defendant. In a “drive-by” ADA lawsuit, the complainant may seek to collect attorney fees and court costs for what is usually a matter of offering a proper disabled parking space.
The courts then require that the business owner to bring their property into compliance. It may be that the plaintiff did not have any business or even want to enter the establishment, but the business owner will be expected to pay up and fix their establishment just the same.
ADA compliance is mandatory
The small businesses that face the most problems are those that have been in business for well over twenty-five years, which is the same amount of time that the ADA has been in existence. But the letter of the law does not excuse ignorance. Any business operating anywhere in the United States must meet the same requirements for accessibility for parking, ramps, doorways, and restrooms.
Tax incentives and the DOJ may help
If you need more information about ADA regulations, you can contact the Department of Justice, where they can provide you with any needed regulations information. You may be able to deduct any renovations completed to come into compliance as the government offers sizeable tax incentives on an annual basis for these matters.
If you are served notice of an impending drive-by ADA lawsuit, it is a good idea to contact an attorney experienced in handling these cases to represent your interests.