Applying the Americans With Disabilities Act to Non-Disabled People in Florida
What can be done if a non-disabled person is injured in a slip or trip and fall and that the injury was caused by a defect on property that constitutes a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)? In some states a violation of a statute or ordinance that causes an injury raises the principle of Negligence Per Se. In others, such a violation can be used as evidence of negligence. Either way, being able to cite a violation of the ADA could be helpful in proving a personal injury claim. Good legal research might save the day. It is well known that the Americans With Disabilities Act was adopted to be and remains a civil right act. It is intended to protect the rights of those with disabilities. However, the ADA contains technical standards that look suspiciously like those found in building codes. One might ask – how do the requirements of the ADA apply, if at all, to someone who might suffer an injury due to the violation of those requirements if the injured party has no disability? The scope of this article purports to answer that question only in the context of Florida law. The application of what is described here to other states would depend on how the state in question has dealt with the ADA requirements. If it has does what Florida has done, then there may be some applicability. The Florida statutes state that the Florida Building Code (FBC) is to provide a mechanism for the protection of public safety, health, and general welfare for all the people of Florida and shall establish minimum standards primarily for public health and life safety, and secondarily for protection of property as appropriate. The Preface of the FBC states that the Florida Building Code, Accessibility is adopted and incorporated into the FBC. The FBC is composed of nine main volumes, of which The Florida Building Code, Accessibility is one. The Florida statutes go on to state that the federal Americans with Disabilities Act Standards for Accessible Design and related regulations are adopted and incorporated by reference as the law of the state and are incorporated into the Florida Accessibility Code for Building Construction. Both the FBC and the Florida Accessibility Code contain architectural and design standards. Those standards are intended to protect “ALL THE PEOPLE OF FLORIDA”. The purpose of the Florida law is to make the standards set forth in all parts of the FBC, including the Accessibility Code, apply to all persons and not just those in a protected class. Therefore, a violation of the Accessibility Code which causes an injury to non-disabled person is just as much a violation as it would be if the injury was incurred by someone with a disability.