For those who live with disabilities, even everyday activities can sometimes be incredibly challenging. This is the primary reason the Americans with Disabilities Act was created and signed into law.
The current COVID-19 pandemic though has many worried that disability act violations may become widespread as states attempt to prioritize medical care.
Some disability rights groups are concerned that disabled persons may not receive attention in favor of others.
It’s essential to understand precisely what the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is and what it says. Through understanding what the ADA says, we can clarify what protections it offers to disabled persons when it comes to equal access to medical care and other necessities.
What Is the Americans With Disabilities Act?
The Americans with Disabilities Act was passed by the United States Congress in 1990. The law provides certain protections to disabled persons and protects them from discrimination based on their disability.
Some of the protections offered by the ADA include:
- Equal access to employment
- Equal access to government services and programs
- Equal access to public accommodations
- Equal access to transportation
- Equal access to telecommunications
The law provides a framework for what constitutes equal access and provides those with disabilities recourse in the event of discrimination.
In the current COVID-19 situation, that means equal access to health services and government programs designed to help people affected by the pandemic.
What Violations May Be Occurring Due to COVID-19 in Florida?
The COVID-19 pandemic has a lot of people scared. Around the country, hospitals are concerned that supplies may become limited and resources strained due to the virus. This can range from necessary supplies such as masks and gloves to advanced equipment such as ventilators.
Prioritizing Coronavirus Patients Who Are Otherwise Healthy
For disability rights groups, this has led to fears that doctors may be forced to make decisions over who gets treated. The primary concern is that hospitals will need to ration out the resources mentioned above, and priority will be given to afflicted individuals who are otherwise healthy.
Redirecting Resources Away from the Disabled
These groups, such as Disability Rights Florida, fear that healthcare workers may perceive disabled individuals as having a lesser chance of survival if infected with COVID-19. Doctors and other healthcare professionals may then decide to direct resources towards nondisabled people who believe in having a better chance of survival.
Why Are These ADA Violations Such a Concern?
Their fears are not necessarily unfounded either. In other states, including Washington, Alabama, and Tenessee, lawsuits have already been filed related to such acts. In Italy as well, there have been numerous stories of discrimination on the bases of age or disability.
Hospitals and health care aren’t the only areas that have those with disabilities concerned either. In education, the State of Florida has passed a provision allowing the Secretary of Education to approve waivers to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
Across the board, disabled individuals are facing the possibility of discrimination due to COVID-19. The issue though, is that even during a pandemic, violating a disabled person’s rights is against the ADA.
What Legal Protections Do Disabled Individuals Have in Florida?
The ADA provides disabled persons with legal recourse in the event they face discrimination due to their disability. This includes if they receive poor treatment at hospitals or if they are not given the same access to healthcare as nondisabled individuals.
An attorney experienced with the ADA will be able to address specific violations. Once these violations are established, a suite can be brought against the violator, whether that is a government organization, hospital, or public place of business.
It is essential to work with a reputable attorney who is trusted in these matters.
Some attornies have been known to abuse provisions in the ADA for financial gain, which can undermine valid ADA claims. Legal ADA violations are a serious matter, and protecting the rights of disabled individuals is essential, even during a crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
About the Author:
Andrew Winston is a partner at the personal injury law firm of Winston Law. For over 20 years, he has successfully represented countless people in all kinds of personal injury cases, with a particular focus on child injury, legal malpractice, and premises liability. He has been recognized for excellence in the representation of injured clients by admission to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and named one of America’s Top 100 High-Stakes Litigators. Mr. Winston is AV Preeminent Rated by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, enjoys a 10.0 rating by AVVO as a Top Personal Injury Attorney, has been selected as a Florida “SuperLawyer” from 2011-2020 – an honor reserved for the top 5% of lawyers in the state – was voted to Florida Trend’s ”Legal Elite,” recognized by Expertise as one of the 20 Best Fort Lauderdale personal injury attorneys, named one of the Top 100 Lawyers in the Miami area for 2015-2017, and one of the Top 100 Lawyers in Florida for 2015-2017 and 2019.