The value of a CASp review
Accessibility regulations can seem like a complicated maelstrom of overlapping and conflicting requirements. The confusion over codes makes easy prey for "drive-by" lawsuits, which often target small businesses that may not have the knowledge of what's required and will therefore opt to settle an individual claim quickly.
What's more frustrating is that lawsuits are often filed over seemingly insignificant issues or deficiencies that are actually quite easy and inexpensive to address. The lowest-hanging fruit for drive-by suits are the most obvious visible defects, such as incorrect signage or parking-stall dimensions. At Marx|Okubo we commonly see accessibility lawsuits or questions related to issues like:
• Disabled-accessible parking stalls that are missing or incorrectly striped or sized
• Out-of-date or missing disabled-accessible parking-stall signage
• Ramps and curb cuts that are steeper than allowable
• Entry doors with thresholds that are too high, or door opening force that is too great
• Tables and chairs that do not accommodate disabled patrons
CASp a helpful reprieve for California
In California the state legislature has stepped in to provide a measure of relief for vulnerable property owners. The Certified Access Specialist (CASp) program, created by Senate Bill 262, is a way to "meet the public's need for experienced, trained, and tested individuals who can inspect buildings and sites for compliance with applicable state and federal construction-related accessibility standards," according to Division of the State Architect website.
Property owners and small businesses in California can now better manage risk by proactively identifying and addressing issues of non-compliance before getting hit with a lawsuit. Having a CASp inspection report helps in three significant ways:
1. A qualified inspector will identify issues of non-compliance based on the applicable codes and regulations. A property owner does not necessarily need to bring the property up to current standards in all areas.
2. A CASp report will prioritize issues so that a property owner can strategically address them over time, following an appropriate plan of action.
3. With a CASp certificate of inspection, a property owner gains legal benefits that can substantially reduce financial liability in the event of a future lawsuit.
The peace of mind that comes with having state-regulated accessibility information in hand to help you plan for updates and keep you covered legally can't be overlooked. If you need more information on starting the process for a CASp inspection, don't hesitate to call a Marx|Okubo consultant at one of our three California locations.