Tire dealers across the US are being targeted for lawsuits under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act and must take action to make their websites compliant immediately, experts warn.
Traction News understands that tire dealers have been targeted with claims for tens of thousands of dollars from lawyers acting on behalf of legally blind clients, demanding they settle or face court proceedings likely to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Dealers face fines and damages north of $100,000
Under the ADA laws, websites that don’t meet accessibility standards can be fined up to $50,000 for a first violation and $100,000 for a second – and that’s before compensation for damages is awarded to plaintiffs.
The legal threats follow a case in May 2019, when a legally blind Florida resident, Juan Carlos Gil, sued the country’s largest car dealership, Fort Lauderdale-based AutoNation, saying he could not access the company’s websites using specialized screen reader software.
Under the 1990 ADA laws, businesses must make their physical premises accessible to people with disabilities. But a recent decision in Federal Court against pizza company Domino’s, and then backed by the Supreme Court on appeal, means that businesses must now make their digital property accessible, too.
The number of ADA lawsuit filings in federal court has skyrocketed in the past two years, since a vision-impaired man, Guillermo Robles, sued Domino’s because their website was not compatible with his screen reader.
What can tire dealers do to make their websites ADA compliant?
Matthew Walker, managing director of Tireweb Marketing (publisher of Traction News), said tire dealers should take urgent action to ensure their websites meet ADA rules.
“The Domino’s and AutoNation cases have really opened the floodgates and I know lots of dealers have been receiving letters from lawyers,” he said. “The amounts involved are eye-watering – so don’t risk it. Take action now.
“The first step is testing whether your site can be viewed and used successfully using commonly available screen reader software.”
That’s easier than it sounds. Walker recommended tire dealers use the free WAVE web tool to test their site’s compliance and receive suggestions for improvement. There’s also a plugin from UserWay, which dealers can use to upgrade their website’s compliance weak points.
Ezytire customers encouraged to seek ADA compliance advice
Walker said Tireweb Marketing, which offers a website development, design and marketing service to dealers, had also made changes on the back of the upsurge in ADA suits.
“We’ve implemented changes to the Ezytire framework to become ADA compliant and we are very happy to provide advice to any dealers on our platform about whether their sites are at risk.
“We’re happy to provide all our clients with advice on what they need to do to become ADA compliant.”
For more information and to check if your website is compliant, call 212-634-4846 or visit www.ezytire.com.
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