Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Signage Matters

I am still to this day mystified as to how business owners react to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).   The photograph above is a prime example of exactly what I am describing.

This photograph was taken at a gas station in the City of Pico Rivera.   The gas station has one van accessible parking space; however, there was a 3/4” change in elevation between the van accessible parking space and the walkway to the gas station convenience store.   Because of the ¾” change in elevation, the gas station received a lawsuit and as a result, they removed the entire van accessible parking space and poured a new concrete parking space that was 100% level with the adjacent walkway.   Everything is good now????

Well, as with so many businesses, the parking space was only one of many violations of the ADA that exist at the gas station.   It was at this point that I offered my services to the gas station manager as I thought they may want to avoid future lawsuits.

Sure enough, as with most business, they believed they were O.K. now and did not want to enlist my services as a professional ADA consultant.   

Unfortunately, the business owner has gone from bad to worse if that is possible and will probably be involved in another lawsuit in the next year or two.   The basis of the lawsuit will be the incorrect signage located in front of the new van accessible parking space.   Of particular issue is the tow away sign which I will discuss. 

The tow away sign is required at all vehicular entrances.   There is an exception that allows the tow away sign to be located adjacent to the accessible space as shown above.   So far, so good, but now we need to examine the sign.   The accessibility code is very specific as to the language of the sign and provides the exact language in a paragraph of the accessibility codes.   In addition, the signage is to provide the location and the telephone number of where a towed vehicle can be obtained.   This contact information is important because legitimate tow companies will not tow without that information.   Finally, the accessibility code state the sign shall be 17” wide x 22” high and shall have text that is 1” high.   It’s obvious the tow away sign in the photograph above does not meet any of these very specific requirements.

Believe it or not there are numerous other issues with regards to the other signage shown above including sign size, mounting height and other missing signage.   It’s hard to believe, but these few signs can get the business owner into a whole lot of trouble in the form a lawsuit.

Now for the sad news……..correct signage for this location will probably cost a total of $150.00 maximum.   In reality if there is a lawsuit, the cost to the business owner will be no where near that amount.  More than likely the owner will pay $4,000.00 to a plaintiff or if the business owner chooses to fight it, the cost of an attorney will exceed the cost of the correct signage.   And to be honest, my fees as an ADA consultant would be far less then both the cost of a lawsuit and the cost of an attorney.

Unfortunately, I see this often where owners are just too stubborn to pay for the services of an ADA consultant and end up in a lawsuit where they ultimately pay the plaintiff and then pay my fee as an ADA consultant and then pay the cost to fix the issue.   Why are business owner not proactive and eliminate the lawsuit by enlisting my services?   Now one will ever know what these business owners are thinking, but one thing is for sure………….it’s costing business owners thousands of needless dollars.

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