Two teens who were seriously injured in a horrific Florida parasailing accident have reached a settlement with a number of defendants in the case.
The Florida injury lawyers of Chalik & Chalik represented one of those teens, and had previously represented the father of a 15-year-old girl killed in a Pompano Beach parasailing accident.
We have led the charge for reform of Florida’s parasailing laws, advocating for and eventually seeing through the passage of state regulation that now requires operators of these ventures to have valid licenses, carry a minimum $1 million insurance policy and adhere to strict guidelines for prohibition of use in windy, stormy conditions.
“Now parasailing operators are aware that they have to follow the regulations and we believe by having these minimal requirements in place, it will require the parasailing operators to be more accountable and make sure they’re operating safely and not doing reckless things,” Debi Chalik told The Sun-Sentinel.
Unfortunately, such changes came too late for two teens from Indiana who suffered life-threatening injuries in a July 2013 parasailing accident in Panama City. Both were 17 when the tow rope snapped and their parasail broke loose from a motor boat. High winds swept them into the concrete side of a hotel balcony before they slammed into power lines and onto the tops of several parked cars in a parking lot below.
Just prior to the accident, a storm was moving in and the girls reported one of the boat operators joked, “Aren’t afraid of a little lightening, are you?”
The confidential settlement agreement our attorneys helped secure is one that will help ensure these young women are financially secure the rest of their lives. Defendants in the case included the parasail company, the rental company, the resort where the girls stayed, the tow rope manufacturer and the distributor of the tow rope.
The settlement, however, is by no means a windfall, considering the extent of injuries each girl suffered. Each suffered brain injuries. One has permanent narrow tunnel vision and double vision. The condition has not been corrected, despite surgery.
Chalik’s client has undergone three skull surgeries, had four bones in her spine fused together. She suffers constant pain.
Both teens were able to graduate from high school, but only after extensive one-on-one tutoring and physical therapy.
The Parasail Safety Council reports that between 1982 and 2012, there have been 130 million parasail harness rides. Of those, 73 resulted in death. It’s estimated there have been thousands of injuries, particularly due to the fact the industry for so long faced no regulations whatsoever.
Some common causes of parasail accidents include:
- Equipment failure
- Improper licensing of operator/company
- Poorly-trained staff of parasail company
- Failure of parasail company staff to respond appropriately in emergency
- Parasail company/operators ignore weather warnings/unsafe conditions
- Parasail isn’t properly monitored
- Parasail company operates far too closely to beaches, other vessels or nearby buildings
Often, there may be more than one issue at play.
Parasailing should be a safe, fun activity for tourists and local Floridians alike. However, problems arise when these firms cut corners and put profits over people.
Settlements such as the one we helped secure for our injured client drive home the message to parasail operators and equipment manufacturers that cutting corners isn’t an option.
If you have suffered tourist injury in South Florida, call Chalik & Chalik at (954) 476-1000 or 1 (800) 873-9040.
Settlement reached in Florida parasailing accident that injured Indiana teens, March 9, 2015, By Anne Marie Tiernon, WTHR.com
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