2023 California Website Accessibility / ADA Compliance Lawsuits for Small Businesses

California has been the most litigious state when it comes to “ADA website” litigation and small businesses have been hit especially hard.

Among the most active law firms are Potter Handy, Pacific Trial Attorneys, Wilshire Law Firm, and Manning Law Firm.

And there are literally dozens of other plaintiffs law firms that have engaged in website accessibility litigation in California, but these four are the names that I have seen come up the most.

Of course, there are other highly active plaintiffs law firms, but these are the ones that I’ve seen come up the most.

So if you do receive a demand letter or if a complaint is filed against you, of course you need to retain counsel.

And what is especially worth noting is that online only businesses cannot be successfully sued. So if you are an online only business obviously that is highly relevant to you.

And that has come about because of the Martinez v. Cot’n Wash decision.

And in that decision, which is a state court decision, the result is that online-only business can online-only businesses cannot be successfully sued.

And you couple that with the federal court precedent that is the same and that eliminates litigation- successful litigation against online-only businesses in California.

So practically how do you prevent this litigation from even coming about?

Well, first, I always recommend that you get your WAVE errors down to zero and if you can get your WAVE alerts down to zero, that’s even better.

WAVE is the most popular website accessibility scan.

It is able to flag a handful of accessibility issues and plaintiffs’ lawyers commonly use- regularly use WAVE to form the basis of their material claims their claims of how your website is inaccessible.

So if you can get your WAVE errors down to zero, same with the alerts, that is a great first step.

It doesn’t mean your website is accessible.

It doesn’t even mean that you resolve these errors successfully in a way that is accessible.

But what it does mean is that you have prevented the automated scan from detecting an error.

The most important accessibility issue is alt text.

So when it comes to all text, you want to make sure that any meaningful images have a concise and descriptive alt text value assigned.

If you have -when it comes to decorative images, so images that have no meaning or are not important or do not convey information, you want to make sure that you have an alt attribute in place but you leave that alt attribute empty.

This can help prevent litigation by itself.

Now tere are other claims that plaintiffs’ law firms make but what is important is that having no alt text or missing alt attributes can lead to multiple accessibility issues claimed.

And if you can reduce those number of issues that can be claimed that is going to be much better than not having not addressed alt text at all.

And so the causes of action are commonly the Unruh Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act will be named.

But this this is the state of website accessibility litigation in California.

And, of course, there are other steps that you can take to reduce litigation.

I have an ADA compliance course that is coming out that will help greatly reduce the risk of litigation. I will provide more details in the description- in the YouTube description below this video.