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What are parking lot drive-by lawsuits based on the ADA?

On Behalf of | Jan 5, 2023 | ADA |

The introduction of the Americans with Disabilities Act provided customers with better access to business. While the act’s purpose is amazing, it opened up an easy way for people to file lawsuits against business owners.

These lawsuits are known as “drive-by” or “surf by” lawsuits that serve no real purpose other than bullying a business owner and costing them money. In some cases, complainants may ride around checking out parking lots for the sole purpose of spotting violations of the ADA so they can get these complaints filed.

What happens in a drive-by lawsuit?

In a drive-by lawsuit is brought by someone who notices something not in compliance with ADA at a business. They don’t have to be a business’ customer to file the claim. Some attorneys have created boutique-type practices based solely on filing these claims.

The non-compliance points of the lawsuit are often very minuscule. One example is the failure to have a disabled parking spot labeled as “Van Accessible” even though there’s a sign and the other requirements for the spot are all met.

What’s the purpose of a drive-by lawsuit?

Under the ADA, people can sue businesses for non-compliance. Their actual damages are permissible in these lawsuits. There’s a loophole here that can cost businesses a lot of money. Even though the person who’s filing the lawsuit never tried to enter the business and didn’t have any damages because of the non-compliance, they can include their lawyer fees in the lawsuit.

Instead of automatically filing the lawsuit, the complainant could alert the business owner that they need to fix something. They could file a lawsuit if the business owner doesn’t correct the issue within a reasonable time. Once the lawsuit is filed, the business owner may have to pay to correct the issue and pay for the complainant’s legal fees.

All business owners should ensure they are in full compliance with ADA laws. Compliance is the first step in protecting your business, but you also need someone on your side who’s familiar with the options for addressing drive-by lawsuits when they occur.