Plan on Parasailing? Be Aware of the Potential Dangers.
Millions of people go parasailing each year. The thrill of being hoisted hundreds of feet in the air is exhilarating, but it can also be deadly. Parasailing injuries and deaths are commonly caused by simple equipment failures. A lack of regulation and failure to do even basic inspections can lead to devastation on the water.
At Mase Mebane Seitz, we represent individuals and their families who have been seriously injured or lost a loved one in parasailing accidents. Parasailing operators who take passengers out in dangerous weather conditions or fail to ensure that the equipment is safe must be held accountable.
1. Parasailing Is Largely Unregulated
For the most part, the parasailing industry remains unregulated. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) conducted an in-depth examination into parasailing accidents and found that many could have been mitigated or avoided.
As noted in the report, there are no federal guidelines or regulations that govern the industry. Further, parasailing operators are not required to have special training or certifications beside the requirements for operating a vessel that carries passengers for hire.
2. Routine Equipment Inspections Are Not Required
One of the most common causes of parasailing accidents resulting in injury or death is faulty equipment. Despite this fact, there are no requirements for routine equipment inspections. Upon post-accident inspection of parasailing equipment, the NTSB found that in many cases, the gear was unserviceable or unsafe.
Currently, parasailing operators need only a license to operate a vessel, but no special license or training is required. Several attempts have been made in the Florida Legislature to place additional regulations on the industry, but none have been successful.
3. A Small Equipment Failure Can Have Deadly Results
Because of the nature of parasailing, even a minor equipment failure can have deadly results. Most parasailing accidents result in serious, catastrophic injuries or fatalities because people are suspended in the air via a towline at staggering heights.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) allows parasailers to fly up to 500 vertical feet. At this height, wind conditions can quickly change. If the person is attached via a weak towline or one with faulty connectors, even low-level winds can snap it, sending the person plummeting.
4. Towline Failure is a Leading Cause of Injury and Death
Towline failure is the leading cause of parasailing accidents. The NTSB found that a towline’s strength is reduced by over 50% when bowline knots are used. When bowline and hitch knots were used together, the line’s strength was reduced to less than 40% of its advertised strength.
Bowlines are a critical component in parasailing and are regularly used. A weakened towline in strong winds is extremely dangerous. South Florida tourists planning on parasailing should inquire about equipment inspections and ensure that towlines are stored properly and not tied with bowline knots.
5. Florida Law Prohibits Parasailing in High Wind Conditions
In 2014, after a series of fatal parasailing accidents, the Florida Legislature passed the White-Miskell Act. The bill, named for two parasailing accident victims, amended the Florida Statutes to define “commercial parasailing” and require operators to maintain a liability insurance policy and hold a license to operate a passenger vessel by the United States Coast Guard.
According to Section 327.375 of the Florida Statutes, commercial parasailing is prohibited if:
- Sustained wind speeds are more than 20 miles per hour (mph);
- Wind gusts are 15 mph higher than sustained wind speeds;
- Wind speed during gusts exceeds 25 mph;
- Visibility is less than 0.5 miles; or
- If a “known lightning storm comes within 7 miles of the parasailing area.”
Parasailing operators are required to “use all available means” to determine weather conditions and keep a weather log when passengers are taken out on the water. Inclement weather is a common cause of parasailing accidents, second only to equipment failure.
Injured in a Parasailing Accident? Contact Our Office Today.
If you or a loved one was injured in a parasailing accident while visiting Miami, contact Mase Mebane Seitz for a free case evaluation. Our lawyers will fight for you to get the maximum compensation based on your injuries. Call our office today at (305) 487-8863 to get started.