New Florida Law Provides for ADA Inspections
This year, the Florida Legislature passed a bill designed to protect business owners in the state from frivolous ADA lawsuits, while also ensuring that all violations are addressed within a reasonable timeframe. The new law, former bill 727, went into effect on July 1st.
Inspecting Premises for ADA Violations
Under the terms of the new law, business owners are given the opportunity to voluntarily hire an ADA expert to evaluate their business for ADA violations. However, only certain individuals qualify as experts under the new law, including:
- Licensed engineers;
- Certified general contractors;
- Certified building contractors;
- Licensed building code administrators;
- Licensed building inspectors;
- Licensed plan examiners;
- Licensed interior designers;
- Licensed architects;
- Licensed landscape architects; and
- Anyone who has prepared a remediation plan that has been accepted by a federal court in a court proceeding or settlement agreement, or who has been qualified as an expert by a federal judge.
Once the evaluation is complete, the expert creates a remediation plan to help the owner fix any violations within a certain time frame.
Remediation plans must be submitted to the Department of Business and Professional Regulation to serve as proof that the company is attempting to comply with ADA regulations. All plans must include details about how any deficiencies will be remedied, as well as the following information:
- The date of inspection;
- The name of the expert who inspected the premises;
- The estimated date of initiation and completion for each measure that the business has agreed to undertake;
- Proof that the expert is qualified; and
- A written statement provided by the expert attesting that the information contained in the plan is accurate.
Business owners are required to complete the alterations within ten years of the inspection.
Certifications of Conformity
Once the repairs have been made, the expert will submit a certification of conformity with the Department. These certifications are valid for three years after they are issued and must contain specific information, including:
- The date of inspection;
- The name of the expert who inspected the business;
- Proof that the expert is qualified, such as a license number or sworn statement; and
- A statement in writing from the qualified expert stating that the certificate is complete and accurate.
When a person files a lawsuit against a business alleging a violation of the ADA, courts are required to consider any remediation plans or certifications that have been filed by the company before the plaintiff’s complaint was submitted.
Although the Department has been instructed to develop and maintain a website that provides an electronic registry of remediation plans and certifications of conformity for members of the public, the law has only slowly begun to be implemented, leaving business owners and customers alike often unsure of their next steps.
Call an Experienced Public Accommodations Lawyer About Your Case Today
Florida’s new law could have a significant impact on the process of filing a claim for a business’s violation of the ADA. To ensure that you are properly represented, please contact a dedicated Tampa public accommodations attorney at Saady & Saxe, P.A. Attorneys At Law by calling 813-909-8855. We are eager to address your questions and concerns and help you through every step of your case.