Helping Clients Navigate ADA Compliance &
The “Murky Underworld” of ADA Website Lawsuits
Few things are more intimidating to a business owner, especially a small business with relatively limited resources, than being served with a lawsuit claiming their website is not compliantly accessible and therefore violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or similar state laws (most commonly the Unruh Civil Rights Act in California and similar accessibility law in New York). While the passage of the ADA in 1990 was aimed at ensuring that those with disabilities can be equal members of society, the way the law was drafted has resulted in unintended consequences where businesses not meant to be within the scope of the law, mainly stand-alone e-commerce websites, are subjected to “a contagion of lawsuits.” After being served with an ADA lawsuit, business owners learn that there is a seemingly murky underworld of lawyers and “serial plaintiffs” who have taken advantage of a law that had good intentions and created a thriving “cottage industry” at the expense of small business owners who are often struggling to keep their businesses afloat.
ADA Lawsuits Alleging Website Non-Compliance Are Proliferating
Unfortunately, the number of ADA lawsuits alleging website non-compliance due to lack of accessibility is increasing exponentially. According to a recent report, while there were only 117 lawsuits filed in 2017 based on ADA website accessibility issues, in 2023, 4,334 such lawsuits were filed. It is no wonder that more and more business owners find themselves panicking as they learn they are the defendants in an opaque lawsuit. After all, there are no clear rules as to what constitutes an accessible website, in particular, since the World Wide Web Consortium and the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are not legal standards per se. Moreover, courts disagree on whether an online business with no physical presence is a “place of public accommodation” subject to the ADA. As if that is not enough, some of these “serial plaintiffs” withdraw their lawsuits at the last minute so as not to get an unfavorable outcome that will put the “shakedown” of businesses based on the ADA to an end, such as was believed to be the case in a similar area of “ADA tester” cases that the Supreme Court considered.
While the surly nature of ADA website lawsuits and the characters behind them are frustrating, ignoring any lawsuit, regardless of the merits, is untenable as doing so can have devastating consequences, including by way of a default judgment. With that in mind, a common challenge that those on the receiving end of ADA accessibility lawsuits face is who to turn to. They may be bombarded with solicitations by lawyers who reach out upon seeing a particular business is sued, claiming they can help. It is hard for a business to know who to trust because some lawyers purporting to defend business owners may be “chummy” with the serial plaintiff lawyers or act as a plaintiff’s counsel in other cases, leading to potentially more unfavorable outcomes.
An ADA Website Lawyer Who Understands The “Murky” Landscape
At RICHT, we are an ADA website compliance lawsuit defense lawyer passionate about acting as a steady hand to help clients astutely navigate the confusing landscape of complaints by “opportunistic and vexatious ADA litigants” who allege the inaccessibility of a website. While we hope that in response to the growing calls for reform, the courts or lawmakers provide reprieve to businesses by providing much-needed clarity as to the application scope and compliance parameters of the ADA, until then, we will serve clients as trustworthy counsel in defending their businesses from ADA lawsuits. From general ADA website compliance aimed at minimizing the chances of an ADA lawsuit to insurance coverage analysis as well as ADA litigation strategy and defense, we offer a full suite of services to help clients protect their businesses from ADA website compliance risk.
ADA Website Compliance & Lawsuit Defense Services We Offer
ADA WebAccessibility Compliance
ADA Litigation Strategy & Defense
ADA Insurance Coverage Review
ADA Website Compliance Resources
Find Out About How We Can Help You Navigate ADA Website Compliance Lawsuits
ADA Website Compliance Lawsuit News
Lawsuits Multiply Amid Stalled Regulatory Process On ADA Website Access
Critics have long urged the Department of Justice to issue technical standards to ensure that websites are accessible to visually impaired users who employ screen reader software. But the agency has only issued guidelines that have been called vague and toothless as the number of Americans with Disabilities Act suits against website operators continues to climb.
Website Accessibility Lawsuits Rising Exponentially In 2023 According To Latest Data
According to a report authored by UsableNET – a New York-based accessibility solutions company, lawsuits against website owners alleged to have breached the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) have increased rapidly during the first half of 2023 across virtually every metric conceivable.
US Supreme Court Mulls Limiting Disability Bias Lawsuits
U.S. Supreme Court justices on Wednesday raised concerns about lawsuits targeting hotels and other places of lodging for omitting details in their reservation systems about accessibility features for people with disabilities, but indicated they might opt not to decide the case.