We just published our mid-year ADA web and App report created by the UsableNet research team reviewing all lawsuits filed in federal courts under the ADA and California state court under Unruh. We review the cases to identify where a digital property, including websites, mobile apps, and video, is the subject of the claim. Our bi-annual reports let UsableNet inform our clients and provide them with the most up-to-date advice for planning their digital accessibility initiatives.
Here is my main take on some key numbers based on what we have seen in 2022 and what's driving those numbers. The full report can be downloaded for free here.
1. Web accessibility lawsuit numbers are high and set to only get higher.
The overall number of claims is increasing, but the number could be low concerning the potential number of businesses. The trend for 2022 is to end up with over 4500 cases, a 10% increase. With over 2.5 million companies in the US with a digital website and most of these cases settling fast in favor of the plaintiff, we only see this trend increasing. The main factor restricting growth is the relatively low number of plaintiff firms focused in this area.
So, as new law firms recognize the opportunity due to a lack of legal and technical certainty, the number of cases will most likely keep rising.
2. 'The DOJ Effect' in 2022 boosts ADA web lawsuits for E-commerce and Florida.
The DOJ's March statement confirmed that the DOJ believes equal access under the ADA covers websites. This guidance has most likely re-energized the plaintiff bar. In particular, we see this in Florida data. Florida cases decreased after the Winn-Dixie decision.
However, in Q2 of this year, we've seen a new rise in cases in Florida. The new ADA web compliance cases in Florida are aimed primarily at e-commerce. The Winn-Dixie and the March DOJ guidance agreed that e-commerce sites are most likely subject to the ADA.
3. New plaintiff law firms enter the report's top ten list.
The Plaintiff firms of Stein & Nieporent LLP, Deyuan Lin, and Fox Rothschild LLP have all entered the top ten list during the first half of 2022. Yet again, the top ten plaintiffs still represent over 80% of all cases. In contrast, the top ten defect firms only represent 15% of cases. There are more than 1,000 different defendant lawyers across hundreds of law firms working on active ADA-based lawsuits, while only 38 plaintiff law firms.
4. Healthcare gets a renewed focus on digital compliance from plaintiffs
Equal access to healthcare is undoubtedly essential and is increasingly managed online, from booking appointments to paying bills. Consider the healthcare industry's increasing digitalization with the DOJ's recent actions to enforce digital accessibility on websites with Covid vaccine information. Therefore, it should be no surprise that healthcare is back at number three on the list of industries most likely to receive a lawsuit.
5. No company is too small to avoid lawsuits.
Ecommerce is still the most targeted type of industry. With most of the Internet 500 already sued, it's no surprise that the attention has come down the revenues stream, with over 75% of cases now affecting companies with less than 25 million in revenue.
6. Accessibility widgets will not help you avoid lawsuits for ADA web compliance.
Businesses using accessibility widgets received more than 300 lawsuits, a big YOY increase. In 2021, we reviewed 400 cases for the entire year. These lawsuits list the widget features as a barrier to equal access in addition to WCAG violations and other user web barriers. Some defense lawyers tell us that they feel some plaintiffs are now tagging sites with widgets.
With this and the numbers, it's hard to see how accessibility widgets can still argue that they enable accessibility and decrease your chances of litigation.
UsableNet will keep you informed on the latest ADA Digital lawsuit trends. You can download the full 2022 midyear report now.
Our next report is due out in December! To collect data for our bi-annual reports we monitor and document all digital accessibility-related lawsuits where a website, mobile app, or video content is the subject of a claim in federal court under the ADA or in California state court under the Unruh Civil Rights Act. The data from this report includes only filed lawsuits in court records and does not account for claim letters sent directly to companies.
Looking for more regular, monthly updates on filed ADA cases for digital accessibility? Click to view our new ADA Accessibility Lawsuit Tracker.
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