Small business owners often put all they have into their companies. Whether these business owners wake up before dawn to prepare breakfast at a small diner or put late nights in at an up-and-coming pub, they devote themselves to serving their customers and employees and to offering the best products or services they can. Unfortunately, these same small shop and restaurant owners are often at highest risk of being sued or fined, not because their products aren’t up to par, but because they are often targeted in disability scams. Small businesses are often not aware of the latest ADA standards or are not equipped to meet the needs of disabled patrons. However, what’s worse is that these types of scammers don’t care about whether or not they have actually entered the many small businesses they sue, or that these businesses update their buildings to comply with ADA standards – they just want money.
Why it’s so Important
A recent case in Jacksonville involved a “serial suer” who is said to have sued more than 40 small businesses throughout Northeast Florida. The law firm backing this serial suer, who is a double amputee, is suspected to have collected anywhere from $85,000 to $150,000 in the first few months of 2017 alone, all from small businesses that settled pre-suits with the firm. However, there are many small business owners who cannot afford to pay up, and end up suffering.
It is vital for businesses to stay in the know about ADA standards. ADA standards are issued by the DOJ and DOT, and are based on the board’s ADA Accessibility Guidelines. There are unique provisions for assembly areas, medical care facilities, lodging, educational buildings, detention and correctional institutions, social service centers and residential buildings. Small business owners should be aware of the DOJ standards that apply to the type of facility they operate from. The latest revised ADA standards were published in 2010, and became mandatory in 2012.
Appropriate ADA signs should be used to mark wheelchair inaccessible areas as well as stairwells, elevators, restrooms and fire exits. ADA signs feature visible lettering along with raised braille lettering for visually impaired customers. CustomSigns.com has compliant ADA signs for each use.
Most customers who shop small and local businesses are interested in supporting their community and experiencing all that their city has to offer. However unfortunately, there are those who are out to collect money in any way they can. Every business should be knowledgeable about ADA guidelines, prepared to accommodate disabled customers, and ready to avoid costly lawsuits, whether they are legitimate or not.