Worried about whether your property complies with the ADA?
Many California business owners are worried whether or not their property complies with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the tangle of California regulations put in place to insure access for the disabled. Their concern is well placed. A single violation can cost your business as much as $4,000 per violation. Even worse, making sure your company is in compliance means digging through federal, state and municipal codes that are frequently in flux and might not even apply!
California has provided an easy solution called the Certified Access Specialist Program (CASp). CASp allows you to protect against access violations before they become a problem, and in the event a violation is discovered, the program reduces your potential liability dramatically.
In order to take advantage of CASp you will need to hire a Certified Access Specialist to inspect your place of business and prepare a report. A Certified Access Specialist is a professional who has passed an examination and has been certified by the State of California to have specialized knowledge of the applicability of state and federal construction-related accessibility standards.
The access specialist will give you a report and help you prepare a schedule of improvements if she finds any access violations on your property. Once the inspection is complete, and you begin moving forward with the schedule of improvements you will then have “qualified defendant” status.
Qualified defendant status does not mean that you are a defendant. What it means, is that IF you are sued for an access violation after the report is issued, you will receive special protections and limits to your liability. Specifically, your statutory damages are reduced to $1000 for each instance of a violation if you can demonstrate that all construction-related violations that are the basis of a claim were corrected within 60 days of being served with the complaint.
What if I lease? Can I still be sued?
Both property owners and tenants can be sued for an access violation, so your landlord has in interest in making sure that you are in compliance. However, many landowners do not take any steps to make sure they are complying, so its best not to rely on them. If you have been sued or are worried that a law suit may be coming, give us a call or send us a message.
By Andrew J. Benard, Esq.