Here in Miami, parasailing is both a popular pastime and a hot topic. South Florida leads the country in recreational parasailing operations but like most states, it offers very little in the way of regulation. Hopefully, change is on the way.
The Parasailing Problem
The South Florida area has seen its fair share of serious parasailing accidents in recent years, including several deaths.
15-year-old Amber White died after high winds caught her parachute and slammed her and her sister onto a hotel roof in 2007.
Several years later, in 2012, 28-year-old Kathleen Miskell was visiting Pompano Beach from Connecticut when she and her husband decided to sign up for tandem parasailing. Her harness broke and she fell more than 150 feet and died.
Those are only two of the many Miami-area parasailing tragedies to rock South Florida in the last twenty years, but the high-profile media coverage they received helped to trigger a change out of Tallahassee.
New Parasailing Laws and Safety Regulations
The White-Miskell Act, named after the two young victims mentioned above, went into effect in October 2014. Its provisions include the following:
- Recreational parasailing is prohibited if bad weather is present or approaching. This includes high winds, limited visibility, and certain storm conditions.
- Each parasailing vessel must be equipped with a VHF marine transceiver and a separate electronic device for monitoring local weather conditions and National Weather Service forecasts.
- Commercial parasail operators must log weather conditions prior to launch.
- All of Florida’s commercial parasail operators must now be licensed by the U.S. Coast Guard.
- Parasailing activities are now limited near airports.
- Operators must carry at least $1 million in bodily injury liability insurance per occurrence, with an annual aggregate of at least $2 million.
- Customers are entitled to request proof of insurance, along with the state-licensed insurer’s name and address, as well as the insurance policy number.
Incredibly, these mark Florida’s very first parasailing regulations. There are still no federal parasailing laws in the United States.
Need Legal Help? Ask Our Accident Attorneys
The new Florida parasailing laws and safety regulations are a step in the right direction, but Florida visitors and residents alike must continue to exercise caution. Parasailing can be incredibly dangerous, and even the most experienced operators can make costly mistakes.
The good news is that Florida parasailing accident victims now have more legal recourse than ever before. If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a Florida parasailing accident, the legal team at Kaire & Heffernan, LLC can help.
Please contact our office to schedule a no-cost, no-obligation consultation with our Miami injury attorneys as soon as possible.