Injuries Involving Parasailing
PARASAILING ACCIDENTS IN FLORIDA
When we talk about parasailing accidents in Florida, more than one body of law is usually involved. If the accident occurred near the Florida coast then Florida law may apply, federal maritime law may apply, and U.S. Coast Guard Rules of the Road and other federal statutes may apply. If you are looking for an attorney to handle a parasailing injury or death case for you or your family, the attorney you choose must be able to answer these 2 questions:
- What specific laws will apply to my case?
- Have you ever handled a parasail injury case before?
If the answer to either of these questions is: “I’m not sure”, or “Yeah, we handle a lot of injury cases”, then be very careful that you are not being reeled in by someone who has never handled a parasailing case–before they try to learn their way through your case.
Just like many attorneys who advertise for “aviation” accidents, it doesn’t mean they have ever actually handled one. But Frank, why would someone advertise that they handle parasail injury cases when they have never handled one previously?
Because they are perfectly happy to fumble their way through your case and hope to get a good outcome. Or, they know they can sign up your case and then send it out to a real maritime attorney—and at the end the referring attorney stands to collect a referral fee. Yes, they can sign you and then refer your case out to another attorney.
YOU FOUND THE RIGHT LAW FIRM
Yes, we have handled parasailing cases previously. Yes, we know which laws apply. We have more than 25 years handling maritime cases. We are maritime attorneys. We are not real estate attorneys, criminal law attorneys, probate, contract, or dog bite attorneys. We know boats. Cruise Ships. Parasail cases. JetSkis. This is what we do—throughout all of Florida.
WHAT IS PARASAILING UNDER FLORIDA LAW?
Parasailing is defined under Florida Statute 327.02:
(7) “Commercial parasailing” means providing or offering to provide, for consideration, any activity involving the towing of a person by a motorboat if:
(a) One or more persons are tethered to the towing vessel;
(b) The person or persons ascend above the water; and
(c) The person or persons remain suspended under a canopy, chute, or parasail above the water while the vessel is underway.
The term does not include ultralight glider towing conducted under rules of the Federal Aviation Administration governing ultralight vehicles as defined in 14 C.F.R. part 103.
WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS ON PARASAIL OPERATORS IN FLORIDA?
- The commercial parasail operator must have liability insurance.
- The commercial parasail operator must have a U.S. Coast Guard license.
- The operator must have a VHF radio.
- The operator must have a separate electronic device from which to obtain weather reports.
- The commercial parasail operator must determine the current and forecasted weather conditions, and record such information in a weather log for every trip passengers are taken on the water. (The log must be kept at the parasail operator’s business, per F.S. 327.375.)
FLORIDA PARASAIL RULES AND LAWS
How many people must be on the vessel to parasail legally?
Florida law requires that in addition to the operator there has to be at least one more person on the vessel to observe the parasail being towed. Unlike skiing, a wide-angle rear-view mirror is not sufficient. (F.S. 327.27)
What are time limits to legally parasail in Florida?
Time limits are one half hour before sunrise to one half hour after sunset.
What is the maximum legal wind speed for parasailing in Florida?
Commercial parasailing can be done up to 20 miles per hour “sustained” winds. However, if wind gusts exceed 25 miles per hour, or wind gusts are 15 miles per hour higher than the sustained wind speeds, or there is rain or heavy fog which produces visibility of less than one-half mile, or a lightning storm is within 7 miles, the commercial parasail cannot operate.
Is a life vest required during parasailing?
Yes, in Florida. It must be the non-inflatable USCG approved type of life vest. (Also known as a Personal Flotation Device, or “PFD”.)
What are geographic limits of where a parasail can operate?
Not closer than 2 miles of an airport, nor within 100 feet of a marked channel in the Florida Intracoastal Waterway.
TETHER BREAKS CAUSING INJURY
There are different grades of line that can be used by the parasail operator but vary in price for the higher quality line. When the tether breaks—either intentionally or unintentionally—the chute can lose lift and plummet downward uncontrollably. Or, in the case of a line break, the chute may be swept away by prevailing winds.
In the second category is where you see cases involving chutes and passengers being driven into power lines, buildings, parking lots, trees, etc. Regardless of what type of line is used it must be regularly maintained and replaced. The chaffing and wear on the tether is extensive from the stress of the chute against the wind and from the tether being winched back onto the spindle on the vessel.
VESSEL FAILS CAUSING INJURY
When the towing vessel fails the chute can lose lift—even when the tether does not break. Like a kite with no wind, the chute can fall quickly to the seabed. Usually the parasail operator is operating fairly close to the Florida coastline, and in the Keys and on the West side of Florida this generally means the water depth is not very deep.
When a chute fails at a highpoint, the riders can strike surface water and also strike the sea floor. One other type of injury which can occur—without the tether breaking—is where the vessel fails and the chute then strikes power lines, buildings, trees, etc. The vessel provides two critical functions in the parasail excursion: it provides the tow to give the Chute lift, and the vessel provides the means of retraction of the Chute—usually a large spindle.
Failure of either mechanism during the parasail ride can cause injury.
CHUTE OR HARNESS FAILURE CAUSING INJURY
Failure of the Chute or Harness is not reported as often as the tether breaking. For anyone who has been in a parasailing harness, they are very lightweight and provide no real protection in the event of a line break or Chute failure.
In theory if the line breaks the chute is supposed to drop down softly like a parachute. However, that is not what happened in many reported cases where the line failed. The chute can also fold or “helicopter” down to the sea surface. In either event of these types of chute failures they can cause severe injury to the riders.
CHOOSE THE RIGHT ATTORNEYS TO REPRESENT YOU
Yes. You can choose any dog bite injury or car accident attorney to represent you in your maritime claim. Think about this though: Would you have a foot doctor perform heart surgery? Would you allow a doctor who has never done surgery to perform surgery on you?
We trust the answers to both of those questions is “No”. We are the right attorneys to handle your parasail claim. We know the laws applicable to your case. We have previously handled parasail cases.
PARASAIL INJURY AND DEATH CASES ARE SPECIAL CASES
Parasail injury and death cases are special cases for several reasons.
First, many attorneys SAY they handle parasail injury cases but they have never even handled one. People injured in a parasail injury case want a “maritime” attorney to handle their case. Why is this? Because an attorney who handles car accident cases is very unlikely to know the special laws that apply to parasail injury and parasail death cases. People injured in parasailing accidents want a “maritime” lawyer because “maritime’ law is the law that is going to apply to that parasailing case.
Second, a parasail injury or death case is an incredibly unique type of case. They do not occur as often as auto accidents or dog bites, and that is why very few attorneys know how to actually handle such parasailing injury and death cases.
Third, the circumstances of how the parasailing injury or death occurred are very important. The parasailing accident will involve the application of U.S. Coast Guard Rules of the Road. It can also include a mix of some Florida laws. This is all the more reason to hire an experienced “maritime” attorney to handle your or your family’s parasail injury or death case.
Fourth, the insurance company for the parasailing company can seek to limit their payout to only the worth of the vessel used in the parasailing ride. And in most instances, the vessel used by parasailing operators is not worth all that much. A dog-bite attorney is not going to even know what this means. If you are trying to find an experienced attorney to handle your or your family’s parasail injury case, ask them these two questions:
- Can the parasailing company try to limit my recovery to the worth of the vessel?
- How do you fight a Limitation of Liability action?
If the attorney you are considering cannot immediately answer these two questions, they are not talking to the right attorney. We know the answers to these questions.
You can have confidence in our 25 YEARS of handling parasailing injury and death cases, boating crashes, JetSki collisions, and cruise ship injury cases.
We are ready to help you now. Florida: 888-BOAT-LAW. 888-262-5629
***None of the foregoing is legal advice and is not meant to give legal advice. Each case is different. This is why it is important to contact us on the specific facts of your case. What you say in making the claim can greatly affect your outcome.