Cal Accessibility

Myth #4: Fixing My Business Will Be Too Expensive; Therefore, I Am Unable to Do Anything to Reduce My Risk.

The most important step is the first one: accept the legal responsibility to make your building or business compliant with access laws, just as you do with health and safety laws. You may be surprised that many issues, such as adding signs, re-striping parking stalls, lowering restroom mirrors, or changing door hardware, are simple to fix.  Each small step you take to improve access to your building or business will reduce your exposure to lawsuits as your building becomes more and more accessible.

There are advantages to taking steps toward compliance. First, most courts look favorably upon proactive businesses that have a plan of action to fix their building, even if the plan is not yet finished. So, even if you’re sued, you may lower your financial exposure to damages.

Furthermore, the Construction-Related Accessibility Standards Compliance Act (CRASCA) barrier at the location SB 1186 (Steinberg 2012) reduced the statutory damage amount. If a business hires a CASp when the violation is corrected within 60 days, damages are reduced from $4,000 to $1,000. If a small business corrects the violation within 30 days, even without a CASp inspection, damages are reduced from $4,000 to $2,000. Amendments provide small businesses (fewer than 50 employees) a grace period from the liability for statutory damages for 120 days following the date that a structure or area was inspected by a CASp to allow the business time to remove barriers that the specialist identifies. Businesses may get 180 days to correct violations if a building permit is needed to make the corrections.

SB 269 creates a rebuttable presumption, for the purpose of an award of minimum statutory damages (civil rights damages), that certain technical violations do not cause the plaintiff to experience difficulty, discomfort, or embarrassment. SB 269 states for purposes of the presumption that a small business has 25 or fewer employees. A small business must correct the technical violations within 15 days of the service of a summons and complaint, asserting an access claim or receipt of a written notice. 

The claim must be based on one or more of the following technical violations: 1) Interior signs, other than directional signs or signs that identify the location of accessible elements, facilities, or features when all are not accessible; 2) The lack of exterior signs, other than parking and directional signs; 3) The color of parking signs, provided the background contrasts with the color of information; 4) The order in which the parking signs are placed or the exact location or wording of parking signs; 5)The color of parking lot striping, provided that it exists and there is sufficient contrast; 6) Faded, chipped, damaged, or deteriorated paint in otherwise fully compliant parking spaces and passenger access aisles; and 7) The presence or condition of detectable warning surfaces on ramps; except when the ramp is part of a pedestrian path of travel that intersects with a vehicular lane or another hazardous area.

Finally, there are tax credits available to you to offset the cost of creating disability access, such as The California Business Portal “Go-Biz” You can check with your tax specialist for details.