Parasailing is just one of the many recreational activities that draws both tourists and residents to Panama City. The popular activity can provide both an exhilarating thrill and a unique view of our beautiful region. However, as a focused Panama City injury law firm, our team knows that parasailing accidents can be serious and can lead to major injuries, or even death. We represent those injured in such accidents, and we are also following legislation intended to prevent parasailing injuries in Florida.
This week, The News Herald reported on an attempt to increase safety regulations governing parasailing in the state of Florida. Noting that the current rules are general and that the commercial parasailing industry is largely unregulated, State Senator Maria Sachs of Delray Beach introduced a bill in November that would create a number of specific safety rules.
The bill would mandate inspections of passenger support systems, including ropes and harnesses, and require towlines meet specific requirements. Additionally, the proposal would prohibit parasailing in hazardous weather conditions such as winds topping 20mph, heavy fog, or lightning within 7 miles of the activity site. Other parts of the proposal focus on location, including a required 400-foot buffer zone between the parasailer and objects such as bridges, piers, and anchored vehicles.
Parasailing would be prohibited between 30 minutes after sunset until 30 minutes before sunrise, and companies would be required to provide a safety briefing to boat passengers and parasailers before takeoff. Parasailing companies would also be required to carry an insurance policy providing a minimum coverage of $1 million per person and $2 million per event. Several portions of Sachs' proposal tie directly to previous parasailing tragedies in our state.
In August of this year, a 28-year-old woman from Connecticut fell to her death, plummeting 150 to 200 feet when her harness broke while she was parasailing on the coastline in Sachs' district. Sachs noted that the death resulted from faulty equipment, so her proposal seeks to tighten related safety requirements. Other portions of the bill are informed by the tragic death of a 15-year-old girl in 2007.
The teen had been parasailing in Pompano Beach when a wind gust broke the parasail's tow line, dragging her out of control and ultimately causing her to fatally collide with a building. Portions of the bill relating to weather conditions seek to prevent a repeat of that accident. In more general terms, the bill would bring parasailing under the state's regulatory purview, a move Sachs hopes will keep residents and visitors safe. Many of the safety rules contained in SB 64 mirror the Unites States Coast Guard's safe parasailing parameters.
Victims injured in parasailing or other recreational accidents in Florida should reach out to legal counsel. While regulatory laws can help support a civil injury claim, they are not essential to recovery. If faulty equipment, poor maintenance, or other forms of negligence contributed to your injury, you may be entitled to money damages. Contact our Panama City injury attorney to arrange a free consultation to discuss your accident, your injuries, and your potential legal claim.