There are significant costs involved for businesses and facilities which are not ADA compliant, some of which may not be on your radar. The Americans with Disabilities Act outlines fines and penalties for noncompliance, but many states allow private parties to be awarded damages directly, and ADA noncompliance is often used as evidence in personal injury cases.
This overview of the ADA fines for noncompliance, reasons to maintain safe sidewalks, compliant entryways, and public accommodations, as well as examples of the amount of damages awarded in cases of noncompliance with the ADA may help you decide to make that needed upgrade as soon as possible.
Understanding the Costs of an ADA Violation
There are several ways that failing to comply with ADA regulations can wind up costing your business more in the long run. These costs fall into three distinct categories.
ADA Penalties for Noncompliance
At the federal level, bringing a lawsuit under the Americans with Disabilities Act may result in a court order requiring the defendant business to achieve compliance within a given number of days. However, many states allow people with disabilities who bring these lawsuits to collect damages. These include:
- Standard fines of $4,000 per violation, sometimes awarded per visit
- Compensatory damages for documented costs or expenses involved
- Punitive damages for pain, suffering, and emotional distress
- Attorney’s fees and the plaintiff’s costs of pursuing the lawsuit
Drive-By ADA Lawsuits
In some cases, a lobbying group, a law firm, or a single individual will file multiple lawsuits under ADA Title III, by those individuals actively seeking businesses that are not in compliance against which to file complaints. California and other states allow this strategy, while some states have taken action to stop “serial” filings by a single individual or group.
Sometimes multiple individuals file a flurry of lawsuits over the same violation, all of which must be defended against and that can result in high legal costs. Often these groups or individuals will offer settlements to the businesses they have filed against, with the threat of an ADA lawsuit to pressure targeted companies to pay up “or else.”
Personal Injury Lawsuits
Add to these direct costs the risk of someone with a disability sustaining a personal injury on your property. Those who rent or lease a business location are considered responsible, along with the property owner, to make sure that accessibility guidelines are followed.
Slip and fall accidents, unsafe sidewalks or ramp surfaces, and the failure to maintain clearance for disabled visitors leave a noncompliant business owner wide open to very large personal injury lawsuits, settlements, and awards. Some examples of the large awards granted or settlements accepted in cases involving an ADA violation include:1
- A single award of $13 million in punitive damages
- A jury award of $8 million in punitive damages
- Several cases with over $1 million in punitive damages
- Settlements ranging from $78,000 to $6.2 million dollars by businesses among the 70% who settled out of court to avoid the costs and publicity of a trial
Achieving and Maintaining ADA Compliance Saves Money
With these high costs looming and additional penalties for knowingly or intentionally avoiding ADA regulations, most businesses, government organizations, and health care facilities would be well-served to install the right equipment to maintain their compliance as regulations change. Protecting against fines, fees, lawsuits, and high-pressure settlement offers starts with keeping your entries and sidewalks fully accessible.
ADA Solutions offers a wide range of compliant tiles and tactile warning plates, which are useful for both new and old concrete installation. Wet or dry, our dome tiles are fully ADA compliant and meet the legal and practical needs of your disabled customers and employees. Contact us today to find the solutions you need to avoid the high costs of being reported for an ADA violation this year.