It is important to ensure that anyone, including those with disabilities, can access the internet in the digital age. This means that web developers must ensure that their sites adhere to strict accessibility guidelines. Failure to be compliant with accessibility laws can lead to extremely costly lawsuits that go far beyond paying off the plaintiff. Throughout this article, we will discuss the hidden costs of breaching the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) 1990.
Legal costs are extremely expensive. There are two ways that firms can pay for legal counsel. First, they can cover the costs internally by using their $175 an hour legal advisor. Secondly, they can pay for outside counsel and hire a veteran litigator, which can cost anywhere from $600 per hour. You can see how long legal battles can soon rack up the expenses. For best practice, just invest in a premium service like accessiBe to test your website against accessibility regulations.
Plaintiff Legal Costs
As well as paying for their legal fees, the chances are that they will need to pay for the plaintiff’s fees, regardless of whether they win or lose. Although you will need to pay for their legal fees, watch out for attorney bill inflation.
The chances are that you have a staggered plan in place to integrate accessibility onto your website, which would allow you to spread the cost of the process. However, if you lose an accessibility case, you will be ordered to make your website accessible, using outsources web technicians to do so. This can be extremely expensive when compared to just getting everything compliant in the first place.
As well as paying the legal costs, your brand will suffer damage to its reputation. This is one of the costs that can’t be quantified. If a business breaches ADA and fails to litigate the case, despite all odds pointing against them, it’s impossible to say how many people will boycott the company. For example, Domino’s Pizza was sued in 2019 by a blind man over claims that he couldn’t order a pizza by using a screen reader. The courts were in favor of the blind man and the pizza giants are still in litigation. This means that many disabled customers will be unlikely to use Domino’s Pizza.
Accessibility Training Costs
Finally, when you come up against an ADA lawsuit, you will have to ensure that everyone gets quality training. Usually, you would have your in-house training team educate everybody. However, they will be busy answering depositions and dealing with the lawsuit. Therefore, to show that you have trained everybody in compliance, you will have to outsource the training. Outsourced training will be a lot more expensive.
There are a lot of hidden costs behind ADA lawsuits that businesses may not consider. The best way to avoid facing a lawsuit, and potentially going out of business, is to simply ensure that your website is accessible from the start. The cost of being compliant will be nothing in comparison to facing a lawsuit.