2013 Panama City Beach Parasailing Accident Ends in Lawsuit for Aquatic Adventures

Posted on by in Personal Injury

Two Indiana teens were in critical condition after a freak parasailing accident in Panama City Beach, FL last year in July.

Sidney Good and Alexis Fairchild, 17, were parasailing behind the "Why Knot", a vessel owned and operated by Aquatic Adventures, on July 1 when a storm kicked up strong winds and the tether between their harness and the boat detached.

The girls were flung into a building, power lines, and parked cars after their parasailing rope snapped. Good sustained a cracked portion of her spinal cord and brain trauma and still suffers from long-term health issues from the horrible accident, including double vision and loss of peripheral vision.

Both girls were hospitalized with serious injuries and spent months rehabbing. Three days after the accident, troubling allegations have emerged about the Aquatic Adventures parasailing company's past.

Alexis Fairchild's parents have filed a lawsuit last month, naming parasail operator Aquatic Adventures Management Group and its owner Jeff Jones as defendants, along with Treasure Island Resort Rentals, the resort where Fairchild stayed while on vacation from Indiana. The suit seeks unspecified damages of more than $15,000 and alleges negligence.

The filed suit alleges Aquatic Adventures and its owner were negligent by taking Fairchild out in dangerous weather, operating too close to the shore and using unsafe equipment. The third defendant in this case, Treasure Island Resort Rentals advertised and sold outings with Aquatic Adventures, and was negligent by failing to ensure the company was qualified or used appropriate safety equipment.

Aquatic Adventures intends to vigorously defend itself, although court records show that they have been sued at least twice before by people injured during parasail outings with the company. Legislators have pointed to the incident as an example of the need for greater regulation of parasail operators and filled bills that would require operators to carry insurance, carry equipment to more closely monitor weather conditions and operate a safe distance from shore.

Miami Parasailing Accidents Statistics

Currently, there are approximately 238 commercial parasail concessions in the U.S. and its territories operating 637+ commercial parasail tow vessels. Approximately 3.8 million people enjoy this sport each year. 98% of all parasail fatalities result from the parasailor's inability to escape from a harness passenger support system following an unplanned water landing in high winds. There are no federal regulations governing parasailing operations, equipment inspection, and replacement or standards.

There are 130 million estimated total rides since 1982 until 2012, of which 1240 resulted in minor injuries, 429 in serious injuries requiring hospitalization. The statistics show 73 fatalities, of which 10 were caused by passenger equipment failure, 58 fatalities due to the inability to escape from the passenger support system and 5 fatalities due to unknown causes. Although parasailing deaths worldwide are rare, there have been 4 deaths in Florida in the past 2 years.

To prevent future parasail fatalities, the RULE 26/44 provision that places restrictions on Passenger Support Systems and Canopy size should be included in any new commercial parasailing regulations.

When Do Parasailing Accidents Occur and what Injuries Can they Cause?

Most accidents occur with unfavorable wind and weather conditions. More than half of the accidents occur in the start phase, followed by the landing phase and last during the flight phase. The causes of parasailing accidents include:

  • Unfavorable wind and weather conditions
  • Harness failure
  • Tandem failure
  • Mechanical failure of winches or tow boats
  • Other equipment failures
  • Lack of operator training

As to the sites of the injuries, the lower body is more prone to injuries rather than the upper extremity. Serious injuries resulting from a parasailing accident are usually:

Miami Parasailing Accidents Liability

Parasailing is part of the vacation-related services that may be subject to premises liability law and resort tort actions. The victim has the legal right to file a claim against guilty parties for damages in a civil court proceeding. Hotels, cruise lines and resorts providing parasailing services can be sued in the event of an accident. Also, the parasailing company and operators can be sued, and manufacturers can be held liable if the accident occurred as a result of faulty equipment.

Documents Needed for Building a Case in Miami

If you believe you have a case, building a strong one depends on several key documents that you need to have: medical bills, estimated future costs of your treatment and recovery, and assessment of your lost ability to earn wages. You are entitled to pursue compensation that covers:

  • Medical expenses
  • Pain and mental anguish
  • Loss of earnings and diminished earning capacity
  • Other permanent or long-term damages that affect your life

How Can Miami Attorney Sean M. Cleary Help?

Mr. Cleary is equipped with knowledge, skills, and resources to challenge even the most well-known resorts and parasailing companies operating in Florida. Injuries that occur in vacation areas request a different type of legal approach because the resort hotel personnel usually denies responsibility or the multibillion-dollar company has the most aggressive lawyers on their side, insistently encouraging you to accept a settlement that is far less than you deserve.

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