Lawsuits for Deaf, Mobility Disabled Patients: Was Your Access to Healthcare Limited?
Last Updated on September 24, 2021
At A Glance
- This Alert Affects:
- Mobility-disabled (e.g., wheelchair users) and deaf or hard-of-hearing individuals who had trouble accessing healthcare services due to a facility’s lack of proper accommodations.
- What’s Going On?
- Attorneys working with ClassAction.org are investigating healthcare facilities across the country to ensure they have the proper policies, equipment and procedures in place to ensure equal access for mobility-disabled, deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals.
- What You Can Do
- If you encountered an accessibility issue at a hospital, doctor’s office or other healthcare establishment, you may be able to file a lawsuit to force the facility to come into compliance with federal and state disability laws. To learn more, fill out the form on this page. After you get in touch, one of the attorneys handling this investigation may reach out to you directly.
- What’s the Catch?
- There is none. Attorneys working with ClassAction.org have reason to suspect that some medical facilities may not be meeting the needs of disabled, deaf and hard-of-hearing patients and want to help those affected. It costs nothing to get in touch or to contact an attorney about your rights.
Attorneys working with ClassAction.org are investigating whether healthcare facilities across the country are providing the proper accommodations to ensure disabled, deaf and hard-of-hearing patients have the same access to care as those not living with disabilities or hearing impairments.
Allegations have surfaced that some facilities are violating the requirements set forth by state and federal laws by, for instance, failing to provide interpreter services or accessible exam rooms.
In light of these claims, attorneys working with ClassAction.org are helping patients who have had trouble accessing proper medical care file lawsuits in order to enact change and provide equal access for all.
If you encountered an accessibility issue at a hospital, doctor’s office or other healthcare facility, attorneys working with ClassAction.org are ready to help. Tell us what happened to you by filling out the form on this page or read on for examples of common accessibility issues in the healthcare industry and how a lawsuit could help.
What Are Some Examples of Healthcare-Related Accessibility Issues?
For Wheelchair Users and Other Mobility-Impaired Individuals
Wheelchair users and other mobility-impaired patients may have had their care hindered by a lack of accessible:
- Medical exam or hospital rooms
- Exam tables and chairs
- Body weight scales
- Waiting area seating
- Exam equipment for procedures such as mammography, x-ray, MRI, etc.
Some patients may have also encountered staff members who were not properly trained on how to assist wheelchair users.
For the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Deaf and hard-of-hearing patients may have experienced accessibility issues in the form of:
- Lack of qualified interpreter services
- Lack of TTY/TDD services
What Are the Legal Requirements for Hospitals and Medical Offices?
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) makes it illegal for places of public accommodation, which include hospitals and doctors’ offices, from discriminating against an individual based on his or her disability.
Under the Act, medical care facilities must provide full and equal access for people with disabilities by:
- Ensuring the grounds are physically accessible
- Making reasonable accommodations to policies, practices, procedures, facilities and services
- Ensuring effective communication between patients and staff
For instance, guidelines for an accessible exam or hospital room might include making sure a mobility-disabled patient has a clear pathway to the room and enough clearance to maneuver through the doorway.
Further, the room may require additional floor space to accommodate certain equipment, such as a portable patient lift, and to allow for turning space for a wheelchair or scooter. The table or bed may also need to be accessible from both sides as some wheelchair users may only be able to transfer from the left or the right.
What Facilities Are Being Looked Into?
Attorneys working with ClassAction.org are interested in helping patients who encountered accessibility issues at any of the following:
- Doctors’ offices
- Dental offices
- Rehab clinics
- Labs and imaging centers
- Physical therapy centers
This list is not exhaustive.
How Can Lawsuits Help Facilitate Access for Disabled and Deaf Patients?
In a successful case, the defendant – whether it be a hospital, lab, doctor’s office or other provider – could be required to take all the steps needed to ensure its facility and services come into compliance with state and federal requirements.
For instance, the facility could be required to:
- Modify policies or procedures to ensure deaf and disabled patients have full access to services
- Purchase new equipment, such as exam tables, chairs or scales
- Hire interpreters to ensure proper communication with deaf and hard of hearing patients
- Retrain staff on the rights, communication needs, privacy concerns and treatment of disabled and deaf individuals
- Be subject to monitoring of required changes to ensure compliance
For example, in a lawsuit filed against Quest Diagnostics, the plaintiffs want the company to change its check-in kiosks so that they are independently accessible by the blind and others with visual impairments.
While this lawsuit is still ongoing, prior ADA cases have successfully forced healthcare providers to implement auxiliary aids, accessible patient rooms and beds, and braille and large-print prescription labels, among other changes. Lawsuits could also serve as a warning to other facilities that may not be acting in compliance with state and federal disability requirements.
In some states, monetary damages for humiliation and emotional injury, as well as statutory damages (an amount of money stipulated within a specific law for a violation), may also be available.
What You Can Do
If you feel your care was hindered by accessibility barriers at a hospital, lab or other medical facility, attorneys working with ClassAction.org want to hear about it.
They’re working to identify which facilities are breaking the law when it comes to providing equal access for people with disabilities and hearing impairments and are ready to take the steps needed to help those affected.
To learn more about what you can do, fill out the form on this page. It costs nothing to get in touch and you’re not obligated to take legal action simply because you spoke to someone about your rights.
Before commenting, please review our comment policy.