Many small business owners don’t realize that they’re not in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA. This legislation sets high standards for handicap access that comes with strict enforcement and harsh penalties for businesses that aren’t up to code.
Potential ADA violations
What makes ADA adherence challenging is the periodic updates that the regulations go through. If a business owner isn’t reviewing all their architectural barriers often enough, they might be adherent to outdated rules. Some of the common measures that the ADA requires in order to prevent architectural barriers that discriminate against people with disabilities are:
• Wide parking spaces
• Ramps instead of stairs
• Flat doorknobs
• Wide doorways and aisles
• Low counters
A strong ADA defense comes from not just complying carefully with every requirement set forth by the act but also having sufficient insurance coverage for your business. In some cases, general liability insurance will cover your business in this type of lawsuit, but it depends on the specific policy and complaint. It’s always worth it to call your provider to verify what your policy does and doesn’t cover.
“Drive-by” lawsuits increase the risk to business owners
Regulations are an important step in ensuring that everyone has equal access to their local businesses. But there are those who are playing the system to their own advantage, hunting down handicapped parking and accessways that aren’t to code and suing these businesses. This has made the need for small businesses to pay careful attention to the minutia of the ADA’s regulations.
Sometimes, the best ADA defense is to voluntarily remove the barrier in question. Doing so prevents you from having to admit liability while removing the court’s power over you since you can’t be ordered to fix something that’s already been done.
Adhering to ADA regulations helps to create a world with more equal access for everyone. It’s important that small business owners stay up to date on the latest rule changes and evaluate potential architectural barriers regularly. There is no shortage of individuals eager to catch any adherence missteps, and the legal consequences are often harsh.