Parasailing Accidents

Those who have gone up on a parasail will tell you, it is ranks among the most fun they had on their recent trip. Thankfully, the majority of parasail trips, most of them thousands of feet up in the air, have a happy ending and amazing photos for the memories. Unfortunately, for many of those patrons who were involved in a tragic parasailing incident with traumatic and catastrophic injuries, the memories are far from great.

On any day along the coast line of Florida, you will see a number of boats tugging large sails with legs dangling in the air at a distance. You might wonder why people are up on a parasail when the weather is not even that nice, or wonder whether the people who are way up in the sky will make it back in time to avoid the large and menacing dark clouds that are awfully close to them. These questions are usually asked too late, minutes or seconds before a tragedy strikes.

Leesfield Scolaro has litigated parasail cases ever since the activity became popular in the 1990s. For almost 20 years, the parasail industry was self-regulated. That is code word for “total lack of regulation”. In 2007, Ira Leesfield became involved in a high profile parasailing case where two sisters were victims of the negligence of the parasail operator. One sister lost her life, and the other sustained a traumatic brain injury. The case was resolved swiftly and successfully for the family. But it took several years to finally reach the goal Leesfield Scolaro had set for itself when it was retained by the family: Push for the passage of a law to regulate the highly dangerous industry of parasailing.

Finally, the Act that bears the name of our client who perished in the 2007 accident passed. It went into effect on October 1, 2014.

Parasail Florida Regulations:
  • Owner and/or operator of a parasailing vessel must maintain a bodily injury liability policy of at least $1 million per occurrence for an annual aggregate amount of $2 million.
  • Operators must have proof of insurance from a state-licensed insurer or eligible surplus lines carrier available at all times. Customers who request the information must be provided with the insurer’s name, address and insurance policy number.
  • Owners or operators of a parasailing vessel must maintain a valid license issued by the United States Coast Guard authorizing them to transport paying customers.
  • Parasailing businesses must monitor weather conditions and cease to operate in certain situations.
  • Every parasailing vessel must be equipped with a VHF marine transceiver and a separate electronic device capable of receiving National Weather Service forecasts and current weather conditions.
  • Parasailing is prohibited if the currently observed winds reach a sustained wind speed of more than 20 miles per hour or if wind gusts are 15 miles per hour higher than the sustained wind speed and if the wind speed during gusts exceeds more than 25 miles per hour.
  • Parasailing is prohibited if rain or fog results in a visibility of less than a half a mile or if lightning storms come within seven miles of the parasailing area.

If you sustained an injury during a recent parasailing activity, contact our firm immediately at 305-854-4900 to speak with our personal injury attorneys who have experience litigating against the parasail industry and know the parasailing regulation requirements.