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Lucy, Esq.
Lucy, Esq., Attorney
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Experience:  Lawyer
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In iowa, does the county attorney's office need to legally

Customer Question

in iowa, does the county attorney's office need to legally be handicap accessible? i went to talk to one about a case and had to talk outside on the sidewalk in the cold cos there were steps in the front and the back keeping me from entering... kinda irritating considering this is 2016
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Hi,

I'm Lucy, and I'd be happy to answer your questions today. I'm sorry to hear that this happened.

When determining whether a public accommodation needs to be accessible, the law is looking at when it was built, not necessarily the function. A person technically could still reach the County Attorney's Office by phone, email, letter, or probably fax, so the issue here isn't that the inaccessible building happens to be the County Attorney's Office. The ADA requires that all public accommodations built after the law went into effect (in January 1992) be accessible by persons with disabilities. Older buildings need to be made accessible when they are modified or remodeled, UNLESS doing so would alter the historic nature of the building.

So, the start of the analysis is - when was this office built? Is it in a historical district? Would adding ramps ruin the historical nature of the building? If the building was constructed before 1992, would it be readily achievable to install ramps anyway? If the county can afford to have a ramps installed to allow people to access the attorney's office, then they can be required to do so, even if the building is older and hasn't been remodeled (unless it's a protected historical building).

The ADA provides that a successful plaintiff is entitled to recover attorney's fees from the property owner. So, you may want to talk to a local attorney about doing the research on when the building went up and what the cost would be to make the building accessible. Most lawyers take these cases with the agreement that you'll only pay when you get a judgment, so you should be able to hire an attorney at the County's expense. A good place to find someone is www.martindale.com.

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