Most hospitals, clinics, and physician practices have fancy websites these days, but those websites may be the newest source for law suits – ones that your insurance may not cover. It is not clear whether state and federal accessibility laws apply to all websites, but good risk management practice suggests that healthcare organizations convert their sites to meet accessibility standards to avert unnecessary claims by “mass torts” lawyers.
In January 2017, one of the country’s largest healthcare chains – HCA Holdings, LLC – was sued in federal court under allegations that its 150+ websites violate the ADA because they are not accessible to blind individuals.
Attorney Steven E. Helland gives a quick summary of current status of ADA website cases in this YouTube video:
Further details of multiple suits are available at the law firm website https://www.fredlaw.com/practices__industries/website_accessibility/#group_2_1371146
(Medlaw.com has no affiliation or relationship with Mr. Helland or his firm, and while we find this information useful and important, we do not specifically endorse this attorney or firm by virtue of linking to it.)
One important factor that is not specifically highlighted in these articles is the fact that many professional liability policies and accompanying General Liability and other specialty coverages, such as cyber insurance or D&O, may not cover ADA claims, or may limit coverage to “defense only”. A growing number of ADA law suits against healthcare organizations for hearing impaired individuals for real-world access issue complaints has shocked many providers when they discover they have limited or no coverage.
For more information on standards for website accessibility visit https://www.w3.org/WAI/intro/wcag
UPDATE 3/24/17: Publicly Accessible Online Content May Require Closed Captioning