man in a mechanical wheelchair is passing by the alee of the park

The ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) is the law of the land. Ignoring the requirements to provide accessible access to people with disabilities can have serious legal and financial consequences for businesses and localities across the U.S. Failing to install and maintain an ADA compliant sidewalk or curb ramp slope which allows safer access to public areas can easily spark a lawsuit.

Crumbling stairs, steep curbs, and broken sidewalks create a trip hazard for everyone who uses them. For those with low vision or who use a walker or wheelchair, they are an obstacle to safe access and present even more danger of accident and injury.

Is your city or business putting enough focus on ADA compliance? What are the consequences of failing to comply with ADA requirements?

Legal Actions and Lawsuits Surrounding ADA Compliance

Reviewing these landmark cases and legal actions makes clear the seriousness of failing to install or maintain ADA-compliant sidewalks, parking lots, and entryways:1,2,3

  • $15-million-dollar settlement for Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Failing to install curb ramp slopes, ease-of-access aisles, and accessible parking resulted in the city signing a $15-million-dollar settlement agreement that outlines the improvements needed to create an accessible community. This included accessible pathways for all parks, upgraded restrooms, and improved access to city services.
  • $1.3-billion-dollar commitment in Los Angeles, California. The City of Los Angeles agreed to a legal settlement that was called for by citizens and advocate groups. This settlement outlines massive infrastructure repair and improvement, including fixing their famously deteriorating sidewalks to meet ADA ramp and surface requirements. This may be the largest settlement regarding an American city’s accessibility thus far.
  • The City of Philadelphia. Sidewalks and pedestrian routes have been named in a lawsuit against the city under the ADA rules, which require these areas to be accessible for residents and visitors with disabilities.
  • The City of Oakland faced an ADA lawsuit due to inaccessible rental units that limit or prevent citizens from having access to rent-controlled housing or force them to live in inaccessible units with unsafe access.
  • $113 million for Portland, Oregon, which settled a class-action lawsuit with the agreement to repair and replace its sidewalk ramps to a safer curb ramp slope.
  • A settlement of $19,000 from Colorado Springs to a local couple, combined with a commitment to install 15,000 ADA-compliant curb ramps in the city, with a further investment of $300,000 for full-time ADA inspectors to improve their ADA compliance.
  • More than 142 local government entities have been named in lawsuits for failing to maintain ADA compliance, and most of these end in very large settlement agreements to fund new construction of ADA sidewalks, ramps, and other improvements. Atlanta, NYC, Seattle, and Long Beach have all been named in recent lawsuits.

A woman and a man who is a wheelchair user having coffee together

Planning Ahead for ADA Compliance

Local governments and business owners often agree to settlements that require them to correct the issues and work toward compliance, in order to avoid the very steep fines and penalties that go along with being found in violation of the ADA. Businesses and cities found to be in violation face a $75,000 fine for the first incident and $150,000 for any additional failures to comply.

In many communities, businesses are still held responsible for the public sidewalks in front of their buildings and, of course, for parking areas and public facilities that are privately owned. Installing the right ramps, curb slopes, and turning areas now is a far more affordable way to provide access to customers and citizens while avoiding a costly lawsuit under the ADA. Contact us today at ADA Solutions for affordable, planned approaches to ADA compliance.

Sources:

  1. https://nextcity.org/features/view/ada-compliance-accessible-design-cities-lawsuits-doj
  2. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-08-16/ada-lawsuits-target-poorly-maintained-sidewalks
  3. https://koaa.com/news/news5-investigates/2019/03/27/city-of-colorado-springs-agrees-to-settle-second-ada-lawsuit-in-6-months/