Why are CASp inspections important?
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As of the first half of 2020, the leading cause of ADA lawsuits continues to be for construction related accessibility claims. Despite the 15% decrease in ADA cases filed so far, Seyfarth Shaw, the firm that tallies them, still expects numbers to rise as more states reopen. Likely, the drop can be attributed to closures because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a legislation that prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability. ADA compliance is expected for a place of public accommodation especially those that provide services to the general population. Due to today’s legal landscape, ADA compliance has become paramount for business owners and this means getting CASp inspections included in property planning. In this article, we will share with you what a CASp inspection is and why getting one is a good idea for your site.
Despite the pandemic, America continues to see growth in the number of businesses, with California taking the biggest slice of the pie at 4.1 million small businesses registered. Aside from the ADA which is a state and federal law, California also protects the rights of persons with disability with the California Disabled Persons Act and the Unruh Act. Under the former, you can be slapped with a $1,000 fine, while for the latter, you can be penalized with $4,000 for statutory damages if found in violation of these laws. In both cases, the penalties are for each offense. Between the inconvenience and payment to lawyers, the costs of legal proceedings can really add up.
It is also important to consider compliance as there are at least 61 million people with a disability currently living in the whole country. This number cannot be taken for granted by property owners especially those who have commercial property. When your business meets applicable standards this means that you are opening your services to more customers which is a win-win situation both for your bottom line and the general public.
Prevention is always better than cure. In matters of health, prevention is not just the avoidance of illness but your overall state of fitness. For businesses, prevention for ADA violations means staying ADA compliant and keeping your services in tiptop shape. It is very hard to get full marks in compliance, but it is a good rule of thumb to strive for 100 percent. One way for facilities to know if they are adhering to the ADA is by getting a CASp inspection report.
A Certified Access Specialist (CASp) is an expert in construction related accessibility standards. Certified Access Specialists also need to get certified by the state so the CASp inspection reports they furnish go on official record.
There are two ways you might encounter a CASp. You can voluntarily get a CASp inspection before formally opening your business or you might also get a court-mandated CASp inspection once such a complaint is filed against you. Here’s why you should hire a CASp before any incidence of a construction related accessibility claim.
Although laws seek to protect everyone’s basic rights, they can also be prone to abuse by crafty individuals. In a way, the law provides incentive to people so that they can proactively be on the lookout for violations. While this is a boon for the legal industry, it can suck capital away from small businesses. With this in mind, Senate Bill 1608 was filed so that certification services may be availed by businesses to check their site for ADA compliance.
Because of SB 1608, CASp inspections go on file. A business can even advertise that their site has been inspected by a CASp by hanging a sign on the door. In the worst case scenario that you receive a complaint for disability access, an existing CASp report can give you qualified defendant status. As a qualified defendant, a business can ask for a 90-day stay on the legal proceedings as well as an early evaluation conference. The purpose for this early evaluation conference is so that the business can meet with the complainant civilly under the court’s supervision.
For the most part, SB 1608 can help businesses bring down the costs of ADA non compliance but it still warrants getting the services of a Certified Access Specialist and it doesn’t penalize abusive complainants. The best prevention for lawsuits is not just getting CASp inspected but making sure that your site is adhering to applicable construction related accessibility rules.
Think your site needs the help of a CASp inspector? Feel free to contact us for more info on CASp inspections.