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UPDATE: Florida Lawmakers Propose Parasailing Regulations

Last month a 28-year-old woman fell to her death when a parasailing harness failed at 150 feet in the air. Florida legislators are now seeking to prevent similar incidents by closing regulatory loopholes and imposing new requirements. If enacted, the bill could do a lot to avoid deaths and serious injuries.

The legislation would add a number of safety provisions. Parasail companies would need to use standardized equipment, including towlines of a specified strength. The bill would prohibit parasailing in bad weather or near hazardous objects like power lines and water-side buildings. All operators would also be subject to insurance and inspection requirements. These provisions could have prevented several recent parasailing accidents.

Currently, parasail operations are subject to some oversight from the Federal Aviation Administration and the Coast Guard. But no agency is responsible for making or enforcing safety rules. Similar legislation died in committees, apparently due to over-regulation fears.

Despite the absence of directly applicable regulations or statutes, parasailing companies cannot operate with impunity. Many general legal concepts apply to these operations to hold owners and employees liable for unsafe behavior. In the case of a fatal accident, for example, a wrongful death claim would allow family members to pursue damages to compensate them for the loss of a loved one.

Even if this new legislation does not pass, these remedies will remain available to the victims of similar accidents.

Source: Sun Sentinel, "Parasailing safety proposal announced," David Fleshler, Sept. 10, 2012

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