Parasailing Accidents: What You Need to Know

Parasailing boat ride

Parasailing is a popular recreational activity occurring over land or water. Cars and trucks can power parasails over land, but recreational parasailing is mainly considered a water-related sport. 

Today, many parasails feature a seat suspended from a parasail wing, similar to a parachute, pulled into the air behind a boat. Depending on the design, parasails can hold two, three, or five people. Gondola-style seating allows larger groups to parasail together. Parasailing is also called parakiting and paraskiing. 

How parasailing got its start

Parasailing’s origins date back to the 1960s, when cars and trucks towed an early variation of a parasail on beaches to teach military pilots how to use a parachute. Sport parachuters also used the towable parasail wings for recreational purposes. By 1969, people were paying to fly in parasails with body harnesses. 

Parasailing Today

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) estimates up to 5 million people parasail each year, despite parasailing’s classification as an extreme sport. Understanding parasailing-related safety issues, and ways to protect yourself can help you decide whether parasailing’s right for you and what to do if you’re in a parasailing accident.

Is parasailing safe?

couple Parasailing on Miami Beach

Participating in any sport involves risk, but parasailing involves sailing at extreme heights, and parasailers cannot maneuver the parasail or adjust their flight conditions. Consequently, the NTSB notes parasailing accidents are more likely to cause fatalities or severe injuries. 

The NTSB also notes parasailing is a largely unregulated industry. While federal regulations could reduce the frequency of parasailing accidents, the Parasail Safety Council maintains that parasailing is usually safe. Still, the Parasail Safety Council recommends parasailers take safety precautions before parasailing to reduce the risks of injury.

Safety risks associated with parasailing

parasailing

Sportscasting.com says parasailing doesn’t make the top 15 most dangerous sports. Although many other sports are considered more dangerous, these significant safety risks are associated with parasailing:

  • High Winds: Wind gusts can blow parasails off course and put extra strain on the line, causing an accident.
  • Emergency Water Landings: High winds and equipment issues can prompt emergency landings. A high-speed impact with water can cause injuries such as broken bones or concussions.
  • Damaged Chutes: It’s possible to lose control of the parasail if the chute is damaged. Damaged chutes may cause emergency landings.
  • Defective Harnesses: Defective harnesses may fail to secure passengers to the parasail, causing them to fall.
  • High-Speed Landings: High-speed landings increase the force of impact, causing injuries.
  • Broken Lines: A line attaches the parasail to the vehicle supplying the power. A broken line detaches the parasail, leaving parasailers without power or control. 
  • Popped Lines: The line connecting the parasail and the vehicle can go slack if there’s a lull in the wind or power from the car or boat. Passengers may suffer injuries if a change in conditions causes the line to tighten abruptly. 
  • Storms: Failing to monitor weather conditions can lead to weather-related accidents. High winds and lightning strikes pose severe risks to parasailers.
  • Impact With Objects: A severed or popped line can cause parasails to veer off course. Operator error can also contribute to collisions with other airborne crafts or buildings.

What to do if you get injured in a parasailing accident

Happy couple Parasailing

It’s important to know what to do if you get injured in an accident. To fully recover after an accident, you may need to seek legal representation to ensure all damages are addressed and properly compensated for. Here are the important step you should take:

  1. Get medical help or call 911
  2. Get names and numbers of witnesses or anyone else involved
  3. Write down what happened and take photos
  4. Notify law enforcement
  5. Contact your insurance company
  6. Talk to a lawyer

How an attorney can help

Ensure you make sound medical and financial decisions after an accident by consulting an attorney right away. It’s natural to be in shock and not know what to do. Personal injury attorneys have specialized training and experience that equips them to evaluate the merits of a legal case after a parasailing accident. Here’s how they can help:

  • Utilize expert resources to investigate and access information relevant to your case
  • Subpoena maintenance records to determine if the company’s negligence contributed to your accident
  • Provide information about disability benefits and other financial options you can pursue while waiting to resolve a lawsuit
  • Fight to get you comprehensive medical treatment and take recommended medical tests
  • Get the maximum compensation for your injuries

You may not comprehend the extent of your injuries immediately. Consequently, whether you’ve been in a Miami parasailing accident or injured while parasailing in Key West, you must take time to have a proper medical evaluation to rule out whiplash and other injuries with delayed symptoms. 

Hiring a lawyer ensures you protect your rights and avoid statements or actions that mitigate the at-fault party’s responsibility for your accident.

Parasailing FAQ’s

Parasailing

What are the most common injuries in parasailing?

Contusions are one of the most common injuries stemming from a parasailing accident. Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) and broken bones are other common injuries. Severe parasailing accidents can cause death.

How common are parasailing accidents?

The Parasail Safety Council reports that, out of an estimated 141 million rides in harness parasails, there were 1,365 minor injuries, 520 severe injuries, and 79 fatalities. When combined, these figures represent less than one one-hundredth of one percent. 

What happens if you fall while parasailing?

Striking water at high speeds can cause significant injuries, including broken bones or concussions. A person knocked unconscious before or during their impact could drown. It’s also possible for parasailers to fall onto other crafts or people.

What are the dangers of parasailing? 

Parasailing dangers include striking the water, structures, or other aircraft at high speeds. Faulty equipment, operator error, and weather also pose risks to parasailers.

Sources:

Parasail Safety Council. (2013) Accident Statistics.

Parasail Safety Council. (2022) Consumer Alerts.

Francis, P. (2018) Sportscasting. The Most Dangerous Sport Isn’t What You Think. 

NTSB. (2014) Parasailing Safety.

About the Author

attorney Jack Bernstein standing in front of a blurred background

Jack G. Bernstein, ESQ.

Jack Bernstein is a hard working and highly motivated personal injury attorney in Miami, Florida with over three decades of experience. He is a strategist and idea person, with a genuine passion for helping his firm’s clients. If you've been injured, contact Jack Bernstein today for a free evaluation of your case.

The information contained herein is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.