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Parasail Safety: No Strings Attached?

According to the Parasail Safety Council (PSC), a not-for-profit professional organization, more than four million people each year enjoy the sport of parasailing. Also known as parascending or parakiting, parasailing involves gliding through the air, hundreds of feet above the ground or water, with the aid of a large parachute-kite towed either by a car, truck or boat. Parasail enthusiasts enjoy incredible coastal views, watch sea turtles and dolphins frolic and experience the addictive sensation of flying over crystal blue waters. It’s no wonder that this pastime remains a popular activity on pleasure cruises and at beachfront vacation destinations throughout the world.

Life lines

While parasailing can be the highlight of any getaway, it is not without its risks. Each year, parasailers find themselves in situations in which out-of-control parachutes drag them into collisions with buildings and other obstacles, and, in some cases, dashing them to the ground.  Recent parasail accident victims include two teenage girls who suffered serious injuries after their parasail snapped, smashing them into a condominium and power line. Their ordeal in the air ended with a crash landing onto a parked car. While both girls survived, victims in other recent accidents have not been so lucky.

An alarming lack of regulation

A comparison between statistics maintained by the PSC and data from the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions reveals that parasailers are 10 times more likely to be injured or killed than those who ride amusement park attractions. What makes this shocking is that the parasail industry remains largely unregulated, with few federal or state safety regulations.

Change on the horizon?

In Florida, which has the largest number of parasail operators in the nation, this is particularly problematic. While calls from family members of parasail victims to enact legislation have typically gone largely unanswered, Senator Maria Sachs is now preparing to re-file a bill that would regulate the parasailing industry. The previous Sachs-sponsored bill required parasail outfits to carry at least $2 million in insurance. The bill also prohibited parasailing in winds greater than 25 miles per hour, and in rain, fog or lightning conditions.

When accidents occur, the parasail operator may be at fault due to negligently maintained equipment or operations in unsafe conditions. Those injured in parasailing accidents should seek skilled personal injury attorneys to investigate their claims and seek the compensation they deserve.

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