Across the United States, an estimated 3 to 5 million individuals annually participate in parasailing. In Florida, parasailing is a particularly popular watersport with residents and tourists alike due to the miles of pristine shoreline and perfect weather year-round.
Even though this fun water sport is relatively safe, accidents do still occur. This is largely because there are few laws and regulations in Florida when it comes to parasailing. This means that boat operators and parasailing companies are largely left to make safety choices themselves. If they negligently put profits before the safety of their customers, catastrophic and fatal parasailing accidents can occur.
If you, or someone you love, suffered an injury in a parasailing accident in Florida, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the business or boat operator responsible. Boat captains and parasailing companies must act responsibly and not take tourists out in poor weather conditions or with faulty equipment. When they fail to protect their customers, they can face legal liability.
Parasailing Rules in Florida
No federal regulations or guidelines require specific training or certification for parasailing operators. Furthermore, there is no federal requirement for the regular inspection of parasailing equipment or the suspension of operations during unfavorable weather conditions.
Florida goes one step further and has just a few parasailing laws and regulations in the state books. According to Florida law, commercial parasailing is prohibited in certain weather, including:
- Wind speeds of more than 20 mph
- Gusts of wind 15 mph higher than the sustained wind speed
- Wind speed during gusts that exceed 25 mph
Parasail operators must also have insurance specific to parasailing before they can operate in the state.
How Common Are Parasailing Accidents?
Parasailing accidents, though relatively rare, can have catastrophic consequences when they do happen. Each year, between three and five million individuals partake in this exhilarating activity. Over the span of three decades, the Parasail Safety Council noted 1,800 injuries and 70 fatalities due to parasailing. This translates to roughly 60 parasailing accidents every year, many of which occurred in Florida.
What Are the Causes of Parasailing Accidents?
When you parasail, you are strapped into a harness attached to the parasail canopy with a rope connecting you to the boat below. As the boat glides through the water, it lifts you into the air along the water and shoreline. It can be an exhilarating experience until something goes wrong. While parasailing is relatively safe, many things can go wrong during an excursion.
Wind plays a pivotal role in parasailing safety. Sudden gusts or changing wind patterns can lead to accidents. Inexperienced parasailers and boat operators might underestimate the impact of wind, putting participants at risk.
While no boat operator or parasailing company can change the weather, it’s crucial for operators to continually monitor weather conditions and ensure that they are suitable for parasailing activities.
Operators must continually monitor wind speed and direction to ensure everyone’s safety. Sudden gusts or changes in wind direction can pose significant risks to parasailers, making real-time wind monitoring an essential task.
Besides the wind, the sea’s condition also impacts parasailing safety. Rough seas can make parasailing dangerous. Operators should be attuned to sea conditions to prevent accidents related to waves and surf.
The mechanical components of parasailing, including harnesses, ropes, and sails, must be in impeccable condition to guarantee safety. Mechanical failures, such as frayed ropes or malfunctioning harnesses, can lead to accidents.
Many parasailing accidents stem from mechanical failures, such as broken harnesses or towlines. Routine equipment checks are vital for identifying and addressing potential issues that could result in a serious accident.
Boat Operator Error
The person responsible for operating the towing boat is crucial in ensuring the safety of parasailers. Errors in boat speed regulation, sudden changes in direction, or improper equipment handling can result in accidents. Proper training and experience are imperative for boat operators to minimize the risk of accidents.
An experienced boat operator can respond appropriately when an emergency happens. They have the skills and training to avoid accidents and mitigate complications when they occur.
Accidents involving the parasailing boat, other watercraft, or stationary objects, such as piers, can lead to serious accidents. Parasailing boats are not the sole vessels on the water. They often share the waterways with various other watercraft, such as speedboats, sailboats, jet skis, and fishing boats. Collisions with other boats can occur without proper navigation and distance maintenance. Operators must remain vigilant, continuously scanning the surroundings to prevent accidents caused by unintended contact with other boats.
In addition to other watercraft, boat operators must pay close attention to stationary objects in and around the water. Parasailing boats must navigate around, including piers, docks, buoys, and anchored vessels. Failing to maintain a safe distance from these objects can result in parasailers being propelled into or colliding with them.
The towline, the connection between the parasail and the boat, must be sturdy and withstand the forces exerted during the activity. Weak or damaged towlines can snap under tension, causing parasailers to plummet into the water or nearby structures.
All parasailing companies and boat operators must regularly inspect towlines to prevent serious and fatal parasailing accidents. Operators should establish stringent inspection protocols, including examining the towline’s entire length for signs of wear, fraying, or damage. Such inspections should be performed before each flight and logged for documentation.
The towline should be replaced immediately when an inspection reveals any signs of wear or damage. Waiting until the towline fails is not an option, putting participants in grave danger. Establishing and adhering to a clear replacement protocol is vital in maintaining the highest safety standards.
Who is Responsible After a Parasailing Accident?
Determining responsibility after a parasailing accident in Florida is not always easy. In general, several parties may share responsibility for a parasailing accident, including the:
- Parasailing Company
- Boat Operator
- Equipment Manufacturer
- Other Parties.
Responsibility can vary depending on the specific circumstances of each accident. In some situations, both the parasailing company and the boat operator can share liability. To obtain maximum compensation, it is essential to identify all liable parties. An experienced Florida injury attorney can help you through this process.
Contact Our Florida Parasailing Accident Lawyers
If you’re injured in a parasailing accident in Florida, you have a right to seek legal compensation. These accidents can result in significant injury and damage. Our Florida personal injury lawyers can help hold the negligent boat operator or parasailing company responsible for the harm they’ve caused.
Call the dedicated personal injury attorneys at Prosper Shaked Accident Injury Attorneys, PA. We know that you need someone on your side to fight insurance companies, and we know how to do just that!
For help understanding how much your case should be worth and what your best path to compensation is, contact our office today to schedule a free consultation. Our number is (305) 694-2676.