But here is some good news for you: most claims can be settled early at a reduced cost or even dismissed. All you need is to follow several simple steps to ensure that your website is accessible while referring the matter to experienced ADA defense attorneys. Here is what you need to know and to do to protect your business from website accessibility lawsuits and ensure ADA compliance.
1. Know the Consequences of ADA Lawsuits
You should know that although the cap for such damages under New York law is set at $500, there is no limitation on the attorney fees. In the absence of action and strong legal defense, these fees can amount to tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The first thing you should do when receiving an ADA website accessibility claim is to take it seriously. Ignoring the lawsuit or demand letter can lead to the judgment by default, where you will have to pay the plaintiff’s damages plus hefty legal fees.
Are ADA Accessibility Lawsuits a Scam?
To ensure a strong defense against ADA website accessibility lawsuits, you should know:
•why you are sued and if these are the typical claims,
• who is suing you and whether you are targeted by serial plaintiffs,
• what are the existing issues with your website,
• what are the requirements for ADA accessibility,
• how you can ensure your website compliance,
2. Find Out the Typical Claims
The majority of claims filed by these plaintiffs included similar language. Most often, plaintiffs claim that defendants’ websites are not equally accessible to blind and visually-impaired users in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. In particular, the claims may allege any of the following:
• website is not accessible per the WCAG 2.0 or WCAG 2.1 accessibility standards,
• defendant’s website lacks alt text,
• the website requires the use of a mouse to browse or create an account.
3. Check If You Have Been Targeted by Serial Plaintiffs
The next thing to do is to check if you have been targeted by serial plaintiffs. These are individuals associated with law firms to attack businesses with lawsuits to generate income in the form of legal fees.
The law doesn’t prohibit duplicative lawsuits, which allows plaintiffs to file simultaneous claims on closely related issues. Meanwhile, courts are disfavoring serial ADA lawsuits and are looking for concrete or particularized injury to a plaintiff when judging an accessibility claim.
Some law firms, for example, Mizrahi Kroub lawyers, have been especially notorious for filing hundreds of website accessibility claims. The list of plaintiffs represented by Mizrahi Kroub is numerous, so here are just a few names: Carmen Tavarez-Vargas, Christian Sanchez, Dilenia Paguada, Deshawn Dawson, Edwin Diaz, Jose Figueroa, Jose Quezada, Robert Weekes, Victoriano Tavarez, Shael Cruz, and Yensy Conteras.
You can find an expanded list of law firms and plaintiffs filing multiple ADA accessibility lawsuits on Samuel Law Firm’s website. The good news is that there are robust legal strategies to defend the claim filed by serial plaintiffs. If you see any of those names on your summons, you should contact ADA defense lawyers immediately.
4. Skip Accessibility Overlays
Many developers of so-called accessibility overlays claim to ensure website compliance when users paste their code onto their websites. Unfortunately, this software fails to repair all possible accessibility issues and thus ensure ADA compliance.
Besides, the Terms of Service of most of these software developers explicitly state that:
• their solutions are not legal services,
• they provide no warranty that their software will meet your needs,
• your sole remedy is to discontinue using their services.
Thus, if you are using any website accessibility overlays, such as accessBe and similar solutions, you should stop relying on this software. Instead, learn about ADA Accessibility WCAG standards and run website audit and remediation.