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ADA Violations – Lawsuits Targeting Business Websites

You Could Get Sued Just for Having  a Website

Web Accessibility is facing a crucial situation right now. Many business websites are sued due to ADA violations. While ADA regulations work when it comes to commercial and public entities, there are some complications in the website’s world

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ)  published the Standards of Accessible Design in September 2010. These standards stated that all electronic information and online technology should be accessible to people with disabilities, including computer hardware program software and documentation. However, on December 2017 the DOJ withdrew the motion of rulemaking in connection with the accessibility of web information.

  • Companies have been turning into other sources of consultation such as the WCAG published by the World Wide Web Consortium through its Web Accessibility Initiative. Besides federal regulations establish the use of the WCAG 2.0. These guidelines describe errors that may be easily corrected, but they may also provide barriers to website readability.

Because of the absence of statutory, regulatory, or other controlling language on this issue, most retailers are facing ADA lawsuits claiming their websites are not accessible. According to an analysis by Seyfarth Shaw, a law firm that specializes in defending such cases, “nearly 5,000 ADA lawsuits were filed in federal court for alleged website violations in the first six months of 2018”. What is more, they predicted, “the number of lawsuits will climb to nearly 10,000 by the end of the year, a 30% increase from 2017”.

Who Is at Risk?

Do you think that all businesses are aware of the penalties they can face? We can say that probably not, and that is why so many lawsuits are conducted this year. As rules are not set yet, many sites fail to accomplish ADA compliance. And even if they want to make their website accessible, the cost ranges from several thousand dollars to a few million dollars, depending on the complexity of the site.

Many businessmen have complained the law allows plaintiffs to demand huge payouts in damages without first giving the business owner the opportunity to fix the websites.

The consequences of violating the ADA rules can have lasting effects on your business. Instead of paying fines and legal fees, there could be actions taken that impact your staff and the way you do your work.

ada III lawsuit in federal 2013-2018

ADA Title III Lawsuits has increased drastically. The 2018 numbers exceeded 2017 by almost 30% as a consequence of the amount of website access suits.

federal website accessibility lawsuits (first six months)

ADA violation lawsuits have increased by 30% from 2017 to the first half of 2018. By the end of the year suits were expected to double this number.

What Are the Regulations for ADA Compliance?

As discussed before, this point can be frustrating because the website accessibility laws are open to interpretation. Today, there isn’t a process that can guarantee you are compliant. What you consider correct the law could be interpreted to rule that you are not complying. Just understanding the accessibility laws differently could mean you violate a rule you thought you had taken care of on your website.

Federal Website Access Lawsuit - 1053

Between January and June 2018, New York doubled the ADA violation lawsuits in comparison with Florida. There is an estimate of 1053 lawsuits.

Top 10 States for ADA Title III Federal Lawsuits 2018

January and June 2018, California had the most ADA Title III lawsuits and doubled New York´ suits. New Jersey was the least affected by far.

What Can be Done?

But this is not a lost cause, and we have the solution for you. The best you can do is to make sure your website complies with accessibility standards. You need to be careful and check the changing regulations to avoid expensive fines and embarrassing public lawsuits.

At Bright Vessel, we want to help our clients address this issue by using UserWay. As it provides “helpful accessibility plugins that work without refactoring your website existing code.” Do not wait until you receive the lawsuit notification to start acting out. Contact us so we will assess and help you make your site accessible for everyone!