State of Access Lawsuits in California, and Nationally for 2013

Despite the passage of SB1186, in an attempt to cure lawsuits, California is ending another year as a hotbed of litigation. This includes the increasing number of lawsuits for SB1186. While many of my professional contacts (architects, attorneys, mostly) have hoped that the passage of SB1186 would decrease the number of lawsuits by making it difficult for attorneys to send out demand letters — this has proved to be the opposite. The lowered amount for damages seems to have only provided more incentive for serial litigants to sue on an even broader basis, to retain the level of income they are accustomed to.

Nonetheless, the fact remains, the only real avoidance of a lawsuit is to be compliant. A tape measure does not lie. It does not vote for Democrats or Republicans. Should someone sue you for not having proper access, having proper access will go a long way to saying “Hello, I have proper access. You are wrong to bring me to suit.” In fact, having compliant access is the only sure fire way to win. Legislation like SB1186 is just a band-aid on a festering issue.

Keep in mind though, SB1186 is, after all, only California law. The issue of ADA lawsuits is proving more widespread than just California.

Some national professional groups have begun to notice that going to courts isn’t worth the hassle. Insurance could help, as a band-aid, but if you are sued too many times for being non-compliant, they will drop you. Compliant access is the only real long term solution. This property management magazine speaks very broadly on the issue… probably because state laws differ on this issue, especially for condominium spaces…. so national groups must rely on local expertise.

As issues of compliance become more noticed by professional property managers, so too are they more noticed by potential plaintiffs. Here’s an article about a possible serial litigant in Missouri.

If anything, signs point to ADA compliance and lawsuits mushrooming even further in 2013. Any thoughts on this?

This will be the last article I post this year. I hope you all have a very happy, access compliant holiday, whatever state you are in.

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