Florida boating accidents do not always just involve boats. Parasailing accidents are also quite common on Florida’s waters. However, despite liability lawsuits and attempts to pass new legislation, parasailing is not as regulated an industry as some would like. In 2008, Rep. Carl Domino, R-Jupiter proposed a bill which would have required boat owners offering parasailing to meet certain standards and to carry liability insurance. The bill failed to pass committee.
In 2004, after two teenage girls were killed in a Florida parasailing accident, Sen. Jim Sebesta, R-St. Petersburg tried to pass some regulations to impose standards for operations and equipment of parasailing companies. The regulations failed to pass, despite a great deal of publicity and support.
Many experts believe that Florida needs parasailing regulations and standards because Florida is a magnet for the sport. Although there is no regulation for the sport and therefore no specific knowledge about the number of commercial parasail companies in Florida, according to The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, there are approximately 70-120 such businesses in Florida.
While parasailing can be fun, it can also be dangerous. According to The Parasailing Safety Council, there have been 380 parasailing accidents in the US between 1990 and 2009. These resulted in 22 fatalities and 78 serious injuries. In many cases, accidents occur when lines break, causing the parasail fan to go careening out of control. Often, the victim will travel through water and may even hit land, sustaining serious injuries. Many victims of parasailing are Florida brain injury patients or spinal cord injury patients. The force with which the victim is thrown usually results in serious injuries.
In addition to snapped lines, other things can go wrong, too. There is a risk of drowning with parasailing, especially in cases where there are problems with the equipment. Any Florida boating accident or malfunction affecting the boat can also affect the lines and the safety of the parasailer. Sudden weather changes can also cause an accident.
The U.S. Coast Guard is expected to release a report about the parasailing industry next month, complete with recommendations about regulations for the industry. Another parasailing accident over the 2010 Labor Day weekend has resulted in more publicity and attention to this type of boating accident.