The Cities Being Sued for Sidewalk Accessibility

The Cities Being Sued for Sidewalk Accessibility

27 December 2021 By Admin

The Americans with Disabilities Act is a Federal law that helps prevent discrimination against people with disabilities. Even though this civil rights law was passed in 1990, there still continue to be violations of the ADA compliances causing difficulties to people with disabilities in several areas in the United States.

The ADA is the law in the United States for making access to public areas easy for people with disabilities. Non-compliance with the ADA guidelines and the inability to provide accessible access to people with disabilities can result in both financial and legal problems for both businesses and cities in the United States.

Failure to install and maintain an ADA compliant sidewalk or a curb ramp slope to make public areas easily accessible to people with disabilities can result in lawsuits being filed.

Damaged sidewalks or steep curbs may cause a trip hazard for those who use them, thus increasing the chances of an injury or accident. If a city or business does not comply with the ADA Standards, hiring an ADA construction specialist would be advisable before any legal complications arise.

Consider the following example of the difficulties and challenges caused to a woman having a disability due to non-compliance with the ADA.

Following her brain tumor surgery, 66-year old Susan Goodlaxson has been using the wheelchair for almost five years. She lives in the Baltimore area in the United States. From her dining room window, she looks at her neighbor gardening and other neighbors chatting with each other. But she cannot join them. This is because she uses a wheelchair and there is not even a single accessible curb ramp on the block where she lives, despite it being mandatory as per the Americans with Disabilities Act. Even if she has to go down, she needs to get her wheelchair down a 7.5 inches steep curb, which means a high risk of falling. Also, to get to the library, she needs to avoid the curbs that don’t have ramps along with damaged sidewalks. Life is really difficult for Susan Goodlaxson, and she is not the only one.

In Baltimore and many other cities in the United States, non-compliance with the ADA law results in tremendous difficulties for people with difficulties.

  • Talking about Baltimore, only 1.3% out of all the curb ramps meet the ADA Standards.
  • Less than half of the curb ramps are ADA compliant in Boston.
  • 27,621 corners in San Jose, California, have faulty or no curb ramps.

All this could have been easily avoided had the local Government entities hired an ADA construction specialist. Several instances of lawsuits and legal actions being taken against cities for ADA non-compliance. In fact, more than 140 local government entities have been mentioned in lawsuits for failure to comply with the ADA Standards.

  • In 2019, Philadelphia was sued because of the conditions of the sidewalks.
  • In 2019, Chicago was sued for failing to install audible pedestrian signals.
  • IN 2018, Atlanta was sued as only 20% of the sidewalks were in the condition to be used by people in wheelchairs, and only around 30% had curb ramps.
  • In 2015, Los Angeles agreed to a commitment of $1.4 billion for ADA compliance, which is the largest of the lawsuits. And it would take almost 30 years for Los Angeles to become ADA compliant with sidewalks and curb ramps.
  • Seattle, Oakland, Oregon, Long Beach, San Francisco, and NYC have been mentioned in ADA lawsuits being filed in recent years.

What do local governments and businesses need to do?

ADA compliance lawsuits can result in hefty penalties for businesses and local governments. A first ADA non-compliance would mean a penalty of $75,000 followed by a $150,000 for any subsequent penalties.

Hiring an ADA construction specialist for ADA compliance is far more affordable than a costly lawsuit under the ADA. An ADA construction specialist would help install the right curb slopes and ramps to make public areas and facilities easily accessible to people with disabilities.

Hiring an ADA construction specialist is affordable to comply with the ADA Standards. The ADA construction specialist ensures safer access to public areas without the problems of a lawsuit.

With the rising cases of non-compliance and the number of lawsuits being filed, it makes sense for government entities to seek professional help from an ADA construction specialist before it gets too late.


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