In many cases, noncompliance with ADA rules can result in accidents and significant injuries. This can occur if a certain accommodation is not available, or if an accommodation is unsafe or not functioning correctly. If a person is hurt as a result of an ADA violation, they may sue the business for compensation. However, most businesses will comply with the law to avoid this risk.
There are two types of lawsuits that can be filed under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by individuals who have been injured because of another's lack of compliance: negligence suits and pattern-or-practice suits. In a negligence suit, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant was negligent in some way that caused his or her injury. The plaintiff cannot just claim that the defendant violated the ADA; rather, he or she must show that the defendant was negligent in implementing or failing to implement an appropriate plan under the act.
In a pattern-or-practice lawsuit, the plaintiff does not have to show that any individual employee was responsible for the alleged discrimination. Rather, it is enough that the employer maintained an illegal employment practice that was common or regular within its workforce.
Individuals who believe that they have been discriminated against based on their disability can file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). If the EEOC finds reasonable cause to believe that the complaint is true, the complainant is entitled to seek relief in federal court.
People with disabilities can sue places of public accommodation for refusing equal access under Title III of the ADA. Suits may be brought in federal court. The legislation provides for remedies for infractions through court orders, as well as enabling plaintiffs to collect legal expenses incurred as a consequence of the litigation.
Plaintiffs must show that (1) they are individuals with a disability; (2) they were denied services by an entity that receives federal funds; and (3) such denial was because of their disability. If these elements are shown, then the defendant has violated Title III of the ADA. Plaintiffs can seek damages or other relief as determined by the court.
There is a two-year statute of limitations for filing suit under Title III of the ADA. In general, this means that if you are denied access to a service on January 1, 2008 and not reinstated as a result of compliance with the ADA by June 30, 2010, then you are out of luck. However, there is an exception called "continuing violations". Under these circumstances, you can still file a lawsuit even if you have previously been granted access to the service. Your previous experience does not affect your ability to bring a claim in the future if the violation continues to exist.
Title III also includes a private right of action for retaliation against persons who oppose discrimination based on disability.
To establish a violation of the ADA, a plaintiff must establish three facts. First and foremost, he must be disabled. Second, the establishment serves as a site of public accommodation. Third, due of his impairment, he was refused full and equal treatment. If these elements are shown by clear and convincing evidence, then the defendant is liable.
Liability depends on whether the business was willing to make reasonable modifications in its policies or practices. For example, if a restaurant is found to be inaccessible to persons with disabilities, the court could require it to make structural changes to allow people with disabilities to have equal access to its services.
However, this type of modification would be difficult for many businesses to accomplish. Therefore, they should not be held liable if they make every effort to accommodate individuals with disabilities but fail to do so.
Individuals with disabilities may also seek legal remedies through the federal government's anti-discrimination agencies. These agencies can investigate alleged violations of the ADA and issue rulings that determine liability. In addition, the agencies can bring lawsuits on behalf of individuals who have been denied rights under the ADA. Finally, individuals with disabilities can sue directly in federal court if the agency fails to act or if it decides not to pursue the matter.
It is important for individuals to understand their rights under the ADA because there are penalties for violating those rights.