UsableNet, a leading provider of Accessibility Technology and Services has revealed, via its 2019 Midyear ADA Web & App Accessibility Report, that Lawsuits have reached a rate of one-an-hour in 2019.
Think about it. That’s a lot, and no end is in sight. Remember, this number includes only claims being filed in federal court. A growing number of state filed lawsuits and demand letters are being sent directly to non-compliant companies, claiming harm and requesting compensation for damages.
At this point, most companies that are being served or threatened with accessibility non-compliance lawsuits are settling fast and paying up because it is cheaper to settle than to defend. A protracted lawsuit is not something that any business relishes and because internet/digital accessibility is a relatively new thing with only guidelines to follow and few actual pertinent laws on the books, it’s open season for litigation.
According to their report, not much time passes from when a case is brought to when a settlement is made. The average case is open less than 60 days and the vast majority of companies settle and do not take the case into a protracted court process.
Web accessibility lawsuits filed referring to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) are becoming more common as differently-abled people demand equal access in the digital realm, but most brick-and-mortar companies still support their digital presence as an extension of their core business and many are unwilling to make the required investment to create a truly inclusive digital environment. Surprisingly, some companies are truly are unaware of digital accessibility and some businesses even feel victimized when they receive a website accessibility claim.
The time is coming where organizations will allocate the necessary resources to ensure digital accessibility instead of spending those funds for defense attorneys and settling cases, but right now the main costs in defending an ADA lawsuit is for legal fees. Sometimes court costs and small amounts for damages are imposed, but this can change.
As industry in general becomes more familiar with the concept of digital accessibility, those who do not comply will be burdened with more costly judgments against them. At this time the usual recommendation by counsel is to settle fast and then act fast to make the website/digital publication accessible in order to mitigate and defend future claims.