Florida leads the nation in boating accidents, but lately a great deal of emphasis has been placed on another type of Florida water-related injury: parasailing accident injury. This year, there has already been a parasailing fatality in Sarasota County and since 2002 there have been nine deaths as well as a number of injuries. Experts and Florida personal injury victims claim that lack of safety regulations are to blame for the accidents. Currently, there are no equipment and safety standards for parasailing operators, and attempts to impose such rules have not been able to pass the legislature.
No government agency even tracks the number of parasail operators in Florida, but it is estimated that in 2011, there were between 70 and 120 such enterprises in Florida alone. Many are in cities such as Daytona Beach, Fort Lauderdale, and other cities with strong tourism markets. Many tourists trying out parasailing spend considerable money on the adventure and many assume that the industry is regulated. In Florida, this is currently not the case.
The Federal Aviation Administration regulates many businesses, but the agency lists parasail as “kites.” As a result, they are only regulated to the extent that they are kept at a safe distance from flight paths. The Coast Guard inspects boats and licenses boat operators of all water craft above a certain size. However, the agency does not regulate the procedures, training, parachutes, harnesses, and other facets of a parasailing business. Therefore, the parasailing equipment, towlines, are harnesses are not regulated by any agency.
According to experts, many parasailing accidents occur because of equipment failure or due to towline separation. Since Florida does not currently have any regulations in place for equipment, it is challenging to ensure that all operators use safe equipment. Reputable operators work to ensure that they protect customer safety, but with no federal regulations, there are no formal requirements for safety.
Parasail operators and the parasail industry have been supporting the introduction of safety standards for parasailing. In fact, the Parasail Safety Council helped draft the Alejandra White Act – the bill which would have imposed safety standards, regulations, and insurance on parasail operators in Florida. That bill failed to pass legislature. The Parasail Safety Council has stated that until regulations and standards are in place, injuries will continue to take place. In an effort to stem more Florida brain injuries and serious life-threatening agencies, it is likely that a new bill will be introduced in the next session to regulate the industry.
Being injured in Florida is frightening, especially if you are visiting the state and are in unfamiliar territory. You do not have to go through the process alone. If you have sustained an injury, contact the Flaxman Law Group in Miami, Homestead, or Hollywood to discuss your case. Your initial consultation is free and comes with no obligation.