Can You Afford $25,000? Website Accessibility Lawsuits Cost Money
I looked up the definition of clickbait and most sources say you’ve got to mislead in some way so I think I’m in the clear.
How about we settle on attention grabbing headline?
If you receive a website (or app) accessibility demand letter under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) $25,000 is a conservative final tab after you’re done at the buffet of plaintiff’s law firm.
Here’s the itemized bill for smallish businesses:
- $5,000-$15,000 plaintiff’s law firm fees
- $5,000 your defense attorney fees
- $5,000-$20,000 website / app audit and remediation
And that is with no embellishment whatsoever.
Those are very real price tags once the dust clears on a settlement.
And if you want to dig your heels in and fight at trial, the price goes much higher.
The figures above are for settling an ADA claim.
The numbers vary based on what anti-descrimination law you’re alleged to have violated (e.g., California Unruh Act, New York State Human Rights Law, Federal Fair Housing Act, etc.).
I’ve also read recently that some plaintiffs’ law firms have accepted less because COVID-19 is decimating small businesses which means that whomever they’ve sent a demand letter cannot afford any more than X amount.
(It’s not like they’re offering COVID coupons out of the goodness of their heart; plaintiffs’ lawyers know it makes more sense to accept less than get nothing at all.)
A Few Possible Answers
If 25,000 clams (and the time and energy associated with dispensing of said clams) sounds like more chowder than you can stomach, here are three very affordable paths you can travel:
- Take your website down.
- Forward your domain to your Facebook business page.
- Majorly simplify your website to only the accessible, bare essentials.
Let’s quickly go over these options.
Take Your Website Down
Ask not what you can do for your website, but what has your website done for you?
If you’re not getting a lot out of your website, you could always just take the extreme action of taking it offline completely.
Simple yet effective.
Unless the plaintiffs’ lawyers come up with something new and very creative, you can’t be sued for an inaccessible website if there’s no website at all.
(Yes, technically it’s inaccessible if you take it down but it’s inaccessible for all.)
Forward to Facebook
Facebook made their business pages as a way to kinda replace having your own business website so Facebook pages are effective placeholders.
You could always forward your domain over to your Facebook page.
You’ve got your contact info, logo, essential information, and latest updates — that’s not a bad silver participation medal.
Simplify Your Website
I actually had a Wordpress theme developed around this concept.
The idea was, let me make a standard looking design that meets all the WCAG 2.0 AA success criteria and then people who want to use the Wordpress platform can use my theme to quickly and easily make their website accessible (though you still have to account for all of your past content).
Again, we’ve got the placeholder effect but this time you retain your domain name and SEO benefits (website age, existing content, etc.).
Hasn’t sold nearly as well as I thought it would but the premise is still viable: simplify your current website to the point where it’s completely accessible.
A lot less technical knowledge required and a lot cheaper to implement.
In a Nutshell
Your downside risk is easily 5-figures if you keep your website as is (I’d bet money your website has WCAG failures which would lead to a demand letter if a plaintiff’s lawyer saw it.).
Even if you’re proactive, making your website will likely cost at least low 4-figures.
If that’s too much, the three options above dramatically lower your downside.