When Vacation Turns to Peril: Tourist Injuries

Every winter, peoples’ thoughts turn to warm beaches and cold drinks. But sometimes even the most well-planned vacations can turn into a trip to the emergency room for the unlucky tourist. Jet skis, boats and parasail rides are only a few of the vacation hazards that can cause serious injuries, and in some cases, death. If your dream vacation in Florida becomes a nightmare because of a serious injury, knowing an experienced Orlando personal injury attorney can make all the difference.

In 2001, a 13-year-old girl and her mother went parasailing off the coast of Florida. They died when high winds snapped their tow rope. A few years later, people on a Florida beach rescued two girls after their parasail tow rope snapped, sending them floating over dangerous power lines.

Accidents like these often happen to people from outside Florida. On top of the injury, the investigations can be complex, often involving the local police, the Coast Guard and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Stormy weather and high winds are responsible for a majority of the parasailing accidents. Whether to take tourists on the water is a decision left to the parasail companies.

Most parasail operators’ insurance requires them to follow established rules for safety. Watching weather on the radar and being mindful of wind speeds helps companies decide when to cease operations for the day. Unfortunately, old-fashioned greed will cause some companies to take people out on the water in dangerous weather.

Jim Sebesta, a former state senator from St. Petersburg, introduced legislation to increase regulation on the parasailing industry three years in a row. The legislation would have outlawed parasailing in wind gusts over 23 mph. The legislation never passed.

In addition to parasailing, Florida is riddled with jet ski injuries and deaths every year. Sadly, most of the deaths could have been prevented with lifejackets. Some rental companies will rent jet skis to kids without regard to proper training and handling. In other instances, poorly maintained watercraft is the cause of accidents and injuries.

Knowledge is often the best way to prevent jet ski accidents. Operators can easily forget that there are other jet skis on the water. They also fail to realize that a jet ski cannot come to an abrupt stop. Operating the jet ski within the recommended speeds and being mindful of proper stopping distance can lead to a safer afternoon on the water.

Jet skis and parasailing are popular tourist activities. Staying safe can make for a more enjoyable and memorable vacation.