July 15, 2015

Parasailing Accidents

Categories: Negligence, Personal Injury

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Parasailing is one of the most popular attractions along Florida’s coastline. You pay your money, take a ride in a boat, strap yourself into a harness – possibly with a friend lashed to your side – and ride a huge parachute upward as you trail behind the boat. The views are fantastic, the exhilaration is like nothing else… and the danger is real.

Prior to October of 2014, regulations in the parasailing industry were few and inadequate, leading to injuries and death as ropes broke, harnesses failed, and passengers either fell or were carried disastrously off course. Finally, after several tragic deaths over the last decade, Florida lawmakers last year passed several rules to enhance the safety of this very popular sport.

Codified in Florida Statutes section 327.37, parasailing operators must observe the following general rules (not a complete list):

  • Someone in the boat other than the operator must be able to observe the person parasailing
  • No parasailing at all may occur between half an hour after sunset to half an hour before sunrise
  • Life jackets must be worn

Commercial parasailing companies must also adhere to the following additional requirements, from Florida Statutes section 327.375:

  • Obtain liability insurance – and show proof of it to any customer who asks – of at least $1 million per occurrence and $2 million annual aggregate
  • Be licensed by the US Coast Guard
  • Have a functional VHF marine transceiver on board, along with a separate electronic device capable of providing access to the National Weather Service forecasts and current weather conditions
  • Keep a weather log for each trip and stop parasailing under certain weather conditions:
    • Sustained local wind speed of 20 mph or above
    • Wind gusts at 15 mph or more higher than the sustained wind speed
    • Wind gusts in excess of 25 mph
    • If rain or heavy fog reduces visibility to less than half a mile
    • If a lightning storm comes within 7 miles

Despite these regulations, Floridians and tourists interested in parasailing will want to research the reputation and safety record of parasailing companies before engaging in the sport. If you are injured while parasailing, consult with a qualified attorney as soon as possible after your accident.

The Tampa, Florida law firm of Wagner, McLaughlin & Whittemore is proud to fight for the rights of accident victims. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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