What can you do if you are a small business owner and you are sued for an ADA violation?
If you receive a complaint filed in a court alleging that you have violated requirements under the ADA, take a long breath. Read the allegations and remember – these are just allegations. After you read the complaint thoroughly, evaluate your facility so you know if the allegations are meritorious or if they are simply not true. Never jump into settlement discussions immediately without evaluating the merit of the complaint. If the complaint is true and your business does not comply with specific regulations contained under the ADA, do not try to convince a judge or the other side’s lawyer that your business is simply too small to comply with the ADA or you do not have the money to comply with the ADA. This could lead to more problems. Ignoring the problem or thinking that the ADA does not apply to you or your business can be damaging down the road. The best thing to do if you have received a complaint alleging ADA violations is to retain a competent attorney that deals with ADA.
What happens if my business is sued for an ADA violation and I fix the problem?
Fixing the actual issue is the first thing you want to do. For instance, if your handicapped parking signs are too low and you fix them and put them to the proper height, this will certainly be taken into consideration. However, it will not automatically “dismiss” your lawsuit or make the lawsuit “moot.” The court will take into consideration your good-faith effort to remedy the issue and your “legal exposure,” like attorney’s fees and costs, may be reduced.
If my business is sued for an ADA violation, will my insurance policy cover the award if I was to lose in court?
It is a good habit to always read your insurance policy thoroughly. Some insurance policies will provide defense and some may ultimately cover the entire award. However, if you decide to challenge the suit and defend your business, it is necessary that you retain counsel. If you do not challenge the suite, you may receive a “default judgment” which is a binding judgment for the other side based on your failure to take legal action and respond.
What can I do to preemptively protect my business from an ADA lawsuit?
Have your business inspected for access compliance by a Certified Access Specialist (CASp).
What should I do if I become aware of an ADA claim or lawsuit alleging that my business does not comply with the Act?
To evaluate your situation and to protect yourself, consult with an attorney. An attorney will be able to give you advice and can provide you with the tools to protect yourself from expensive lawsuits.
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Last update: June 2018.