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Florida Legislature Considers Tightening Parasailing Regulations After Deadly Accident

As a Fort Lauderdale boating accident attorney, I was very interested to read about a proposed state law aimed at increasing the safety of parasailing. As the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Jan. 19, the Florida Legislature is considering the Alejandra White Act, a bill named in honor of an Atlanta-area woman who died from injuries suffered on vacation in Clearwater Beach. White and her fiance, Shaun Ladd, were on a parasailing expedition when the rope connecting them to the boat towing them snapped, leading to a crash that killed White. The bill, which is expected to be introduced in the legislative session starting March 8, would have a provision requiring quick-release harnesses, among other things.

Parasailing, a popular tourist activity in Florida, puts riders in seats attached to a parachute. The seats are connected by ropes to boats that tow them in the air. White and Ladd were visiting the Tampa area over Labor Day weekend of 2010 when their rope snapped. Ladd was able to get out of the harness and drop into the ocean, where he was not seriously injured. But White couldn’t get out of the harness and was blown onto shore, where she hit several umbrellas before being impaled on a volleyball pole. She died six days later. The parasailing industry is completely unregulated in Florida and under federal law, MyFox Tampa Bay reported. In addition to the quick-release harness, the proposed law would require operators to carry insurance, keep operators at least 1,800 feet offshore, set standard for unsafe weather and require tow ropes of no more than 800 feet.

As a Hollywood boating accident lawyer, I’m very much in favor of this law. While parasailing accidents like this one are fortunately not common, that doesn’t mean there’s no need to keep parasailers safe. No one wants to (or ought to) die on vacation, and the Florida tourist industry hardly wants a reputation for being deadly. A change as simple as a quick-release harness could have turned White’s deadly accident into a scary but survivable experience. And to ensure that everyone is protected, it makes sense to require such a harness from every parasailing business. Most of the other provisions of the bill listed also seem to be attempts to increase safety. The insurance provision, however, is likely an attempt to address the sad question of what happens when there is an accident. One successful lawsuit could bankrupt a small business, so the required insurance would protect those businesses while ensuring that any victims are able to get fair financial compensation.

Cohn, Smith & Cohn represents visitors to Florida, as Florida residents, who were hurt because of someone else’s negligence. A great many tourists come to Florida specifically because we offer great opportunities for boating, with miles of coastline, lakes and rivers and a vibrant yachting industry in Fort Lauderdale. But when boating outings are left in the hands of someone who isn’t careful about safety, people can die or suffer serious injuries. Our Cooper City boating accident attorneys represent people who have lost a loved one or suffered permanent injuries as a result of carelessness by a boat operator. In a lawsuit, our clients can recover the costs of treating these injuries — now and in the future — as well as lost income and compensation for their physical and emotional injuries.

If you or someone you love was seriously injured in a Florida boating crash, you should call Cohn, Smith & Cohn to learn more about your rights. To set up a free consultation, call our main office at (954) 431-8100 or send us an email today.

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