Businesses all over California are being hit by lawsuits for nonconforming accessible parking stalls. While most of these stalls may appear to be in compliance, most are not and even if the accessible stall is the correct size and has the proper signage, there are still hidden nonconforming conditions on the ground in the form of the accessible parking stall level.
Accessible parking stalls and the adjacent aisle must be level. If not, those disabled individuals that use a specialized van can not load and unload via the ramp or hydraulic lift that many of the vans have on the passenger side. This is a really big issue as it really makes no sense to have an accessible stall with the proper signage that the disabled can not use because they can not get out of their van.
I wrote about this issue in detail in my blog on December 9, 2013 at which time I showed an example of a nonconforming stall and discussed the issues related to stall level and despite my warnings, businesses are continuing to have lawsuits filed against them for accessible parking spaces that are not level. Drive around town as I do and it’s easy to spot businesses that have received lawsuits………….they have a brand new completely regarded and repaved accessible parking stall. The photograph above shows just such case.
Previously the parking lot shown in the photograph had an accessible parking stall at the other end of the parking lot that was not level. To get this parking space level, the new accessible space needed to be completely regarded and a retaining curb was installed to deal with the grade difference. Not necessarily the best situation, but always better than a lawsuit.
As many of the ADA lawsuits that my clients receive are for ADA violations in the parking lot, I can not stress enough that accessibility in parking lots must be PERFECT. Having a parking lot with perfect accessibility is one of the best ways to avoid ADA lawsuits although it’s also important to address ALL of the ADA issues on a property to be completely secure. Also, please remember when making ADA improvements, you must consult your local building officials as to any permits or approvals that may be required.