We recently resolved an ADA Title III website lawsuit against a local hotel owner quickly, inexpensively and without the need for a trial.
Hungry plaintiffs’ attorneys are looking for new targets to sue as COVID-19 quarantine orders mean fewer personal injury cases. Most businesses are sitting ducks for a lawsuit claiming that their websites are not accessible to the disabled. These lawsuits are likely to increase as plaintiffs’ attorneys move into this area of practice to stay afloat.
Many are familiar with the often-frivolous lawsuits filed by disabled “testers” claiming that they were denied access to a local place of business due to architectural barriers. These cases are usually filed to extract an attorneys’ fee without doing much more than filing a form lawsuit based on the “findings” of a hired gun expert. Since most businesses are guilty of at least minor violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)’s Title III architectural access provisions, the plaintiffs’ lawyers can usually get away with it.
Recently, these same attorneys have turned their attention to business websites because court decisions have held that they fall within the protection of Title III. In a Title III lawsuit, the plaintiff’s attorney can obtain an injunction and recover attorneys’ fees and court costs. Defendants in these cases will usually be held to the “WCAG 2.0” standard, a set of industry guidelines governing website design intended to make websites more accessible to those with vision or hearing impairments.
The best defense against these lawsuits is to prevent them from happening in the first place. Our firm has worked with consultants familiar with WCAG 2.0 that can quickly detect potential violations and make recommendations for fixes. We can put you in touch with a consultant to fix a small problem before it turns into a bigger one. If the case is already in litigation (i.e., you have been served with suit papers), consider retaining a firm that has handled these cases.
Be informed and take corrective action: consult with an expert to determine whether your website meets legal guidelines. If you’ve already been sued, retain an attorney with experience handling this type of case.
We recently avoided an ADA Title III lawsuit and a threatened “shakedown” against a client by investigating the claim and making a forceful defense against any liability, as well as counseling the client on updating its website to be WCAG 2.0 compliant.