If you have a disability and sustained an injury because a business failed to comply with ADA accommodations, you could be entitled to legal action.
The Americans with Disabilities Act and its Provisions allow for many loopholes, as well as grey areas, which is why having a qualified expert on hand can make it much easier to determine whether a violation has, in fact, taken place and what steps are next.
If you are looking to submit an ADA claim, you
likely have dozens of questions, and want to know your options moving forward. This article will help you understand:
- Regulations companies must follow under the ADA
- What the ADA considers a disability
- What is considered a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act?
- Most common violations
- Facts about ADA
- How to take the next steps
Americans with Disabilities Act
The Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, is a federal law which protects the rights of people with disabilities. The ADA gets rid of barriers which would otherwise prevent participation in many aspects involved with working and living in America.
The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits
any level of discrimination towards people with disabilities in the workplace.
Employers are prohibited from discriminating against people with disabilities
in regard to employment related
activities including things like:
- Pay Scale
- Benefits Packages
The goal of this federal law is to provide equal access to opportunities for every citizen. This extends to employment, accessible transportation, equal access to accessible housing, and more.
The ADA also requires businesses and government facilities to provide accommodations for people who have a legal disability. Compliance negates any chance of discrimination against those who have disabilities.
example, someone with a wheelchair should be able to
gain the same access to a public library, a civic building, or a restaurant
with the same ease as someone without a wheelchair.
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How the ADA Defines A Disability
The ADA defines a disabled person as a person who has a
physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life
activities. This includes tasks like:
- Taking care of oneself
- Performing manual tasks
Someone who is substantially limited means that they are generally unable to perform a major life activity in the same way that the average person from the general population would be able to perform.
It also pertains to a person who has a history or record of such an impairment, or a person who is perceived by others as having such an impairment.
Disabilities listed under this federal law include things like physical handicaps, learning disabilities, and impairments with hearing or sight. Some examples of covered disabilities include:
- Psychiatric disabilities
- Physical impairments
- Hearing impairment
- Sight impairment
- Speech impairment
- Muscular dystrophy
- Multiple sclerosis
- Specific learning disabilities
- Mental retardation
Those who fall under these categories are in a position to file a claim against a business if said business violates ADA accommodation requirements or employment requirements.
What Is an ADA Violation?
ADA violations generally involve situations where a company failed to provide access or amenities in a public place for people with disabilities. Businesses and government facilities alike are legally required to provide accommodations for people who have disabilities, in most cases. With some minor exceptions to very small businesses, commercial and government facilities are expected to keep their places of business safe for employees and for customers. Failing to follow these requirements can manifest in the form of penalties for the businesses in question and costly private lawsuits.
The likelihood of private lawsuits increases
when the violation in question has caused injury to the individual with
disabilities. It is the duty of businesses to make sure that all of their
patrons are accommodated, including those with disabilities.
There are local and state regulations which vary from one location to the next. Yes, there are precise requirements under the federal law for businesses to follow, but it is imperative that businesses also remain compliant with state-wide regulations and local requirements.
This duty for businesses and restaurants is called an affirmative duty. Business owners must make sure that people with disabilities can access all of their facilities safely before any injury takes place. Disabled persons must have access in what are legally defined as “public” places.
Public accommodations are defined as private entities that own, operate, or lease to a place of public accommodation. These include the following:
- Retail stores
- Private schools
- Daycare centers
- Movie theaters
- Doctors’ offices
- Workplace and Office Buildings
- Restroom facilities
The only places that are exempt from these
requirements are private membership clubs and religious organizations.
Violations of ADA accommodations in any of
these areas leave the business open to legal ramifications such as:
- Restrictions on business licenses
- Legal injunctions prohibiting the business from operating until the conditions are rectified
- Lawsuits for personal injury damages to an injured individual
Most Common ADA Violations
There are common situations where people with
disabilities have a case against a business for not abiding by ADA regulations.
- Failing to install a wheelchair ramp where one is required
- Failing to provide handicap parking spaces in a parking lot
- Failing to provide adequate handicap restroom accommodations
- Failing to provide handrails in the walkways
- Having walkways that are too steep or too narrow
- Having problems with escalator or elevator systems.
With each of these common violations, a plaintiff will have a case against that business if an injury was sustained because of the violation. This is considered negligence - whereby the business knowingly ignored their duty and by so doing, allowed a patron or employee to sustain injury.
Public restrooms must have stalls that provide adequate width for handicap accessibility. Every public restroom must be handicapped-accessible.
Merchandising shelves in a store must have 36 inches between one shelf and the next aisle over. Floors have to be cleaned on a regular basis, so no merchandise is in the way, causing a potential hazard to someone who, for example, is in a wheelchair.
Parking lots must include a curb ramp which projects into an access aisle. There has to be a route for someone who is handicapped you access the building. There should also be a van accessible handicap space in the parking lot.
Ramps must be an appropriate size. Common violations for ramps find their way into court because the landing area was too small, the ramp was too steep, had inadequate handrails or edge protection, or the side flares on the curb presented problems for those in wheelchairs.
If somebody in a wheelchair or an OPMDM (which is a mobility device used by a disabled person) is injured making their way up a perfectly accessible wheelchair ramp, that does not qualify as an injury sustained because a company failure to adhere to ADA accommodations.
However, if they are injured trying to make their way up a walkway that is too narrow for the wheelchair or trying to hoist their way up a set of stairs because a wheelchair ramp does not exist, the company can be sued.
Similarly, should a disabled person sustain an injury trying to make their way up a walkway because handrails were not properly installed, there is an opportunity to receive compensation for the injuries by filing a lawsuit against the business. This is known as a Premise Liability Case.
More Quick Facts About The ADA
The Americans with Disabilities Act protects people with disabilities from discrimination in hiring. Specifically, if that person is equally qualified and able to perform the same functions as someone who is not disabled. However, the ADA does not require companies to hire an individual just because they are disabled.
Outside of employment, the Americans with Disabilities Act stipulates that businesses have to provide reasonable accommodations so that people with disabilities can access the same things that everyone else can access. This means having equal access to an entrance into a building in order to get into a restaurant or go to and from work. It means having equal access to facilities in the kitchen and the bathroom.
Many businesses believed that providing accommodations to people with disabilities is prohibitively expensive. But, the office of US Department of Labor has found that 57% of all accommodations for people with disabilities cost nothing to make or implement, and the remaining 43% cost around $500. More importantly, there are ample tax benefits to help companies provide the same opportunities to those with disabilities.
Businesses that have fewer than 15 employees do not get coverage for ADA provisions.
In a place of public accommodation that is leased, the landlord and the tenant have to decide who is responsible for making the changes and providing services to those who are disabled as part of the lease agreement. However, both landlord and tenant could be legally responsible for injury sustained due to a failure to adhere to ADA accommodations.
Businesses are not required to provide braille materials for sales tax or menus as long as retail stores or restaurants have staff qualified to read information to blind customers.
Businesses do not generally need a qualified interpreter in order to communicate with someone who is deaf so long as they can exchange information using a pen and notepad.
The number of complaints filed for ADA violations represents a small percentage out of the millions of lawsuits filed every year. It is believed that such lawsuits flood the courts simply because small or minor cases will often receive a considerably disproportionate amount of media attention compared to other types of lawsuits.
Getting Legal Help with ADA Violations
ADA Requirements can be quite complex. Thankfully there are qualified attorneys who can help individuals with disabilities seek recompense for personal injuries, employment violations, or issues with housing and transportation.
Businesses can also turn to qualified professionals for assistance in compliance with local and state regulations. Here at Anderson Hemmat, we have over 60 years of combined experience helping our clients get the compensation they deserve. Our Denver ADA Claims Attorneys can help you get to the bottom of your claims, guiding you through each step of the way.
Give us a call today to speak with one of our Attorneys on a free consultation, where we will help you understand:
- If you have a case
- How much your claim may be worth
- What steps to take next
Get the injury representation you deserve. Give us a call today, or fill out our contact form to speak with our experienced ADA Claims Attorneys.