Earlier this year, there was a news story published by several of the most popular sources, which discussed an increasing number of disability-related lawsuits. In this day and age, there is an expectation that businesses will accommodate the physical needs of those with certain impairments. If your St. Petersburg business is not doing so, you could land yourself in the courtroom with disability lawsuits.
Though the majority of cases involving disability access settle out of court for less than $10,000, for most small companies that is a very large chunk of money to be paid out. It could be devastating to many.
Among the most common complaints filed is that over the lack of proper access for wheelchair-bound patrons. After all, when confined to a wheelchair, a single step is enough to deter entry to a business. If you are serving the general public, your facilities should be handicap accessible. It is not enough to build a simple ramp. There are many guidelines to which a business must conform. Furthermore, a faulty ramp is just as likely to lead to a slip and fall accident case, as a bad staircase.
It is important to have ramps when the entry to a public facility is raised above ground level. In order to avoid an unwanted meeting with a personal injury attorney, it is wise to be familiar with all of the federal guidelines before installing such a ramp.
There are four primary issues to consider when constructing a ramp. The first is the size of the ramp; the second is the incline at which it rests; the third is that it should have a secure tread; and the fourth is how structurally sound the equipment is. Remember, wheelchairs – without a passenger – are quite heavy. Add in the average 200 pounds of an adult male, plus the weight of a companion, and your ramp must be able to support a rather large load.
Incline. According to established guidelines, a ramp should have 12 inches of length for every inch of rise. That is to say that the average eight-inch tall step would require a ramp at least eight feet in length. The maximum rise that a single ramp can cover is 30 inches. If there is a need to span a greater height than that, two or more ramps must be utilized.
Width. In addition to an easily navigated slope, your ramp must be wide enough to accommodate the footprint of a wheelchair. Regulations state that the ramp must be at least three feet wide; however it is important to keep in mind the amount of traffic that your ramp will see. While 36 inches is enough to allow a single wheelchair to move freely, oversized scooters or extra-wide wheelchairs might not be so fortunate. If your Saint Petersburg business sees a lot of wheelchair traffic, it might be wise to consider a wider ramp. Also consider the width of the landing that the wheelchair leads to. It should be at least 60 inches in width and deep enough to allow the door to freely open without hindering a person in a wheelchair.
If you require the assistance of a wheelchair and have been harmed as a result of a faulty wheelchair ramp, you do have the right to consult a personal injury attorney. You may be able to collect compensation to pay for any resulting medical bills or lost wages.