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Negligent Security Seminar | March 2015

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    At Your Own Risk? A Look at the Top Riskiest Adventure Sports in Florida

    Florida offers a multitude of thrilling adventure sports that attract adrenaline junkies from around the world. From scuba diving in the deep blue waters to soaring high above the coastline while parasailing, these activities provide an exhilarating experience. However, it’s important to remember that with excitement comes risk.  Knowing this, it is crucial to prioritize safety and take necessary precautions to minimize the potential dangers associated with these thrilling pursuits. Below are some of the riskiest adventure sports in Florida.

    Scuba Diving: Exploring the underwater world through scuba diving is an awe-inspiring adventure. However, it comes with inherent risks, including decompression sickness, equipment failures, and marine life encounters. To mitigate these risks, it is crucial to receive proper training, ensure equipment is well-maintained, and dive with a reputable and experienced dive operator.

    According to the Divers Alert Network’s most current Annual Diving Report (2020), which provides valuable insights into diving incidents and fatalities, Florida has experienced a notable number of scuba diving accidents. From 2008 through 2017, the report shows that Florida has witnessed a significant number of incidents related to scuba diving, including 95 in Monroe County, 31 in Palm Beach County, and 20 in Broward County. These incidents serve as a reminder of the importance of adhering to safety protocols and maintaining vigilance during underwater excursions.

    Parasailing: Soaring through the sky while attached to a parachute and towed by a boat offers breathtaking views of Florida’s stunning coastlines. Yet, as recent incidents have tragically highlighted, parasailing accidents can occur due to equipment failure, extreme weather conditions, or operator negligence.

    For example, in a devastating incident in June 2022, an Illinois woman lost her life and two young children were injured when their boat captain cut their parasail loose during a sudden storm, causing them to be dragged across the ocean and collide with a bridge in the Florida Keys. This unfortunate event serves as a stark reminder of the risks involved in parasailing and the need for utmost caution and vigilance. In 2007 a teen was killed and her sister seriously injured while parasailing off the coast of Pompano Beach, Florida.  Leighton Law’s John Leighton represented this family and worked with them and legislators to enact the nation’s first parasailing safety law.

    To ensure safety during parasailing, choose a licensed and reputable operator with a strong safety record. Research their adherence to regulations and inquire about safety measures, equipment inspections, and staff training. Assess weather conditions carefully, avoiding strong winds or storms. Stay informed about forecasts and follow the operator’s advice. Prioritize safety above all else when enjoying this thrilling adventure sport.

    Skydiving: Skydiving offers an unmatched rush of adrenaline for thrill-seekers. However, it is essential to acknowledge the inherent risks involved. Accidents can occur due to parachute malfunctions, inadequate training, or negligence by the skydiving facility. According to data from the United States Parachute Association, factors contributing to skydiving fatalities include parachute failures, medical issues, and collisions during freefall.

    To prioritize safety, choose a licensed and reputable skydiving center with certified instructors and a solid safety record. Follow all instructions from instructors and adhere to safety guidelines. Ensure equipment is properly maintained and inspected.

    Recreational Boating: Florida, with its vast waterways and thriving recreational boating culture, has seen a significant number of boating and jet ski accidents in recent years. According to the U.S. Coast Guard’s 2021 recreational boating statistics, Florida had by far more boating accidents, deaths, injuries, and property damage than any other state in 2021. Out of 723 Florida boating accidents, there were 60 deaths, 306 non-fatal injuries, and more than $13 million in property damage.

    While recreational boating offers high-speed excitement, collisions with other watercraft, reckless operation, and lack of experience can lead to accidents and severe injuries. Adhere to safety guidelines, wear life jackets, maintain a safe distance from other vessels, and never operate watercraft under the influence of alcohol or drugs. John Leighton represented families who suffered losses in the worst boating crash in Biscayne Bay’s history, as well as catastrophic individual boating disasters.

    Legal Remedies and Seeking Justice

    Engaging in risky adventure sports can provide unforgettable experiences, but it’s vital to prioritize safety at all times. However, accidents may still occur, and in such cases, it’s important to take immediate action.

    • Seek medical attention for your injuries.
    • Report the incident to the appropriate authorities, such as the operator, facility management, or law enforcement. This documentation will serve as crucial evidence later on.
    • Contact an experienced personal injury attorney who specializes in adventure sports injuries. They will guide you through the legal process, assess the viability of your claim, and advocate for your rights.
    • Collect any evidence related to the accident, such as photographs, witness statements, medical records, and any other relevant documentation. This evidence will help support your claim and establish liability.
    • Understand Florida’s specific deadlines, known as the statute of limitations, for filing a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit. Likewise cruise lines have very short statutes of limitations set by contract when you purchase a ticket to cruise (usually one year from the incident, with a six month written notice requirement). Missing these deadlines could prevent you from seeking compensation for your losses.

    By taking these steps, you can protect your rights and pursue justice for your injuries. Remember, consulting with a personal injury attorney is crucial to navigate the legal process and ensure you receive fair compensation for your damages.

    Article by:

    John Leighton

    A nationally-recognized trial lawyer who handles catastrophic injury and death cases. He manages Leighton Law, P.A. trial lawyers, with offices in Miami and Orlando, Florida. He is President of The National Crime Victim Bar Association, author of the 2-volume textbook,Litigating Premises Security Cases, and past Chairman of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America’s Motor Vehicle, Highway & Premises Liability Section. Having won some of the largest verdicts in Florida history, Mr. Leighton is listed inThe Best Lawyers in America (14 years), “Top Lawyers” in the South Florida Legal Guide (15 years), Top 100 Florida SuperLawyer™ and Florida SuperLawyers (14 years), “Orlando Legal Elite” by Orlando Style magazine, and FloridaTrend magazine “Florida Legal Elite


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