One of the most popular destinations for vacationers is the beach and for good reason. There are so many ways to have fun in the sun – swimming in the ocean, volleyball games, relaxing in the sand and soaking in the sun, and of course, visitors are bombarded by advertisements for water sports and other thrill-seeking activities, like parasailing.
Danger Lurks 500 Feet In The Air
It’s easy to feel like you are safe while parasailing, with all of the lines, harnesses, and of course the chute, which allows you to glide through the air, obtaining a bird’s eye view of the world below. Unfortunately, there is very little regulation when it comes to parasailing.
In fact, despite the clear danger Americans face when engaging in this sport, there are no federal regulations or guidelines for parasailing. This means business offering the activity have no guidelines for certification, training, inspection, or rules regarding remaining active during poor weather.
Accidents are common, and in most cases, caused by:
- Defective Equipment: Chute issues, harness defects, and line breaks can all mean that a parasailer could fall to their death unexpectedly.
- Line Popping: This is when a sudden slack is allowed in the line, usually caused by a change in boat speed or changing winds. When the line pops, it sends a jolt into the parasailers which can be surprisingly strong, causing injuries to the neck or spine.
- High-Speed Landings: If an emergency landing is required, the high speed of the landing, even in water, can hurt.
- Line Separation: If the line attaching the parasailer to the boat snaps or releases for some reason, the parasailers will float free with no control, which means they could crash into a building or land ashore, with no control over their speed.
It rare for a parasailer to be involved in an accident and to be able to walk away with minor injuries. In 2013, two teenage girls joined the thousands of others who learned this fact the hard way.
Parasailing Teens Crash Into A Building
On July 1st, 2013, two teenage friends decided that while on vacation in Panama City, Florida, they were going to go parasailing. One had participated in the activity before and had talked about how much fun it had been. So the two signed up and soon were soaring through the air.
While they were 1,000 feet in the air, the winds suddenly picked up speed because of an approaching storm. The line connecting them to the boat pulling the chute snapped.
Two terrified girls were left defenseless as the 70 mph winds batted them around. Unable to change course or slow down, they crashed directly into a building on the beach. When they hit the building, their chute collapsed and they bounced off the building then fell from the 13th floor onto the parked cars below.
Lives Forever Changed
Both girls survived but sustained serious, life-altering injuries. They both broke their backs and suffered brain injuries and were in critical condition.
Doctors rushed to save their lives and managed to, however it took multiple surgeries and months of rehabilitation therapy. They continue to struggle and fight. One of the girls has lost most of her vision and both have brain damage. The brain damage is so severe that even though they both pushed through and graduated from high school, their reading levels have backtracked to a third-grade reading level.
Despite all of their hardships, they’ve both regained the ability to walk, although they continue to be in pain. They also both hope to have careers of their own one day and go to college.
Their parents sued the company they went parasailing with, alleging that they were negligent for allowing the girls to go out during poor weather, for driving too close to the shore, and for using unsafe equipment.
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Lawsuits: What Is The Point?
After a horrific accident like this one, the victims are left dealing with the aftermath and pain. Although a lawsuit can’t bring back their once perfect health, it can help to cover their financial losses and ensure that they won’t have to worry about money in the future.
Medical bills, potentially lost wages, compensation for physical pain and suffering, and compensation for the emotional trauma sustained are all damages that can be awarded by the court.
How Much Is A Case Worth?
The amount awarded will depend on the actual losses sustained by the plaintiff. In order to show losses, evidence provided to the court may include medical bills, examples of possible wages that could or would have been earned by the plaintiff before their injuries, and doctor’s opinions of how they have and will continue to suffer.
How Soon Can A Claim Be Filed?
Almost immediately. Once someone is hurt due to someone else’s negligence, they typically become eligible to file a personal injury lawsuit. It’s also important to not wait too long to talk to a vacation accident attorney because there is a statute of limitations. This means that once a certain amount of time has passed, the victims will no longer be allowed to file.