One Dead, Two Injured in Horrific Parasailing Accident in Florida Keys

In yet another example of an enjoyable vacation experience gone tragically wrong, a woman was killed and two children were injured in a parasailing accident in the Florida Keys on Memorial Day. According to the Miami Herald, the three victims were aloft and enjoying flat calm conditions when storms suddenly surrounded them within minutes. The wind “pegged” the parasail, meaning that the chute becomes controlled by wind gusts instead of the boat towing the apparatus. In response, the vessel’s operator cut the line tethered to the victims. The three plunged from an unknown height and were dragged several yards by the chute, before colliding into the Seven Mile Bridge. 

On its face, the incident seems to be a clear case of liability on behalf of the boat operator. However, there are additional factors that could complicate a wrongful death or personal injury claim. A Miami resort and vacation injuries attorney will help navigate challenges, and some details on the recent accident are informative.

Negligence v. Recklessness

Most accident claims are based upon negligence, in which you must prove that the at-fault party directly caused your injuries through a breach of the duty to exercise reasonable care. Victims in the recent incident will probably not have a difficult time meeting this burden: It is not a stretch to see that it is a mistake to cut the only line tethering the parasail and its passengers to the boat.

However, a spokesperson from the Parasail Safety Council stated that the number one rule of parasailing safety is that you never cut the line. There are other options for regaining control. For this reason, the victims’ family might opt to pursue a case for recklessness. There is a higher standard to meet, but they may be entitled to punitive damages.

Vicarious Liability

The boat operator was clearly in the wrong but because he caused a fatality and injuries to two victims, the victims’ family could be limited in recovering an amount of damages sufficient to cover their losses. Fortunately, the claimants can also pursue the parasailing tour company under the theory of vicarious liability. Employers are responsible for the misconduct of employees acting within the scope of employment.

The Impact of Waivers in Vacation Accident Cases

This issue comes up often in resort and vacation accidents, as companies offering adventurous excursions want to limit their liability. Even if the victims did sign a waiver releasing the parasail operator, this accident involved extreme circumstances and possible recklessness – and maybe even criminal charges. Florida punishes “culpable” negligence as a Second Degree Misdemeanor. These factors could render the waiver void or invalid.

Speak to a Miami Resort and Vacation Injuries Lawyer About Your Options

For more information about your legal remedies, please contact Gerson & Schwartz, PA at (305) 371-6000 or via our website. We are happy to schedule a free case review at our offices in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or West Palm Beach, FL. A resort and vacation accidents attorney can advise you after assessing your unique circumstances.

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