Parasailing Accidents

Florida Parasailing Accident Lawyer

More than three to five million people each year enjoy the sport of parasailing, and many of them partake in the sport for the first time, according to the Parasailing Safety Council (PSC). Many people think and often assume there is a state or federal agency regulating parasailing, such as someone to inspect the parasailing equipment, license the operators, and enforce a regime of strict safety regulations, or that there would be someone to make sure that they are insured. These assumptions are wrong—parasailing is virtually unregulated by federal or Florida state laws.

Several attempts to pass legislation in the state of Florida have failed. Today, the only requirements for parasailing are the U.S. Coast Guard’s approval of the vessel, a boating license, and the use of life preservers. The equipment directly associated with the recreational sport—the harness, the parasail chutes, any towlines, etc—are not regulated.

According to the PSC, since 1982, 429 parasailing rides resulted in serious injuries and 72 deaths. Of the deaths, 9 were the result of passenger support equipment failure, 58 were from the inability to escape from the passenger support system, and 5 were unknown.

Documented incidents have reported victims being dragged through palm trees, being slammed into buildings, being dropped hundreds of feet only to be being dragged under the water and resulting in drowning. Others reported sprained ankles, broken legs, amputation, punctured lungs, fractured pelvis, brain injuries, and death. Even as the number of operators worldwide has declined over the past decade due to high insurance and equipment costs, the number of injuries has increased by about 15%, says Mark McCulloh of the Florida-based Parasail Safety Council.

Parasailing is often described as sport where a passenger (single rider or tandem riders) are dangled up to 350 feet in the air using a parachute and winch system and harness, which is attached to and towed by a speedboat below. The driver of the boat determines where you go and where you land. The ride normally lasts 10-15 minutes.

According to PSC, the single root cause of the majority of parasail fatalities begin as a tow line separation from the tow vessel in high winds, resulting in a water landing. A parasailing canopy separated from its tow line can remain inflated by the wind with a passenger being towed in the water placing them in harm’s way. In addition to gusty winds, weather conditions, equipment failure (tow ropes, harness), high speed water and deck landings, canopy rotation, line popping, whiplash, and careless or untrained operators and/or boat captains can also cause serious injuries and deaths.

Read some important parasailing safety tips.

If you or a loved one has suffered serious injuries or death from parasailing (or any other water sport) or in a personal watercraft in Florida, throughout the U.S., or while on a cruise and would like to learn more about your legal rights, please contact Baker & Zimmerman here or by calling (954) 509-1900 or calling toll free at (800) 886-LAWS. We offer free consultations and charge you only if we win your case.