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Fun can lead to tragedy and personal injury

Two recent news stories remind us that activities which only seem to involve fun and joy can end in tragedy.

It was recently reported that the family of a 28-year-old woman who died while parasailing during a Florida vacation filed a lawsuit against the operator of the venture and the maker of the parachute. http://miami.cbslocal.com/2013/06/12/husband-of-ct-tourist-killed-while-parasailing-filed-lawsuit/

According to the report, the woman and her husband were parasailing side-by-side when the wife's harness malfunctioned and she fell 200 feet into the Atlantic Ocean. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and U.S. Coast Guard are investigating the accident. (We recently wrote about the variety of accidents which the NTSB investigates beyond aviation accidents. INSERT LINK TO OUR BLOG.) This case illustrates how many of these sporting activities such as parasailing, jet skiing, and others are unregulated to a large extent.

Sadly, this case reminds of a tragic case we are working on concerning a newly-wed couple who died on their honeymoon in a crash involving a sight-seeing helicopter in Hawaii. http://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2011/11/11/local-newlyweds-killed-in-hawaii-helicopter-crash/ In our case, the NTSB has conducted an extensive investigation that is still on-going.

Also, there was a recent story that a young lady in Allentown, Pennsylvania, settled a lawsuit involving an injury suffered in a ride at an amusement park. http://www.mcall.com/news/breaking/mc-allentown-fair-ride-injury-settlement-20130613,0,6216734.story

Parks and amusement rides are subject to some state regulation, but enforcement is often lax. We were involved in a case several years ago arising out of a collapse of a ride pavilion at Kennywood Park that led to the death of one patron and injuries to several others. http://old.post-gazette.com/localnews/20020601kenny0601p3.asp

The operators of recreational sporting activities have an obligation under local laws to conduct their affairs in a safe manner, otherwise, they are subject to wrongful death lawsuits of this type under state law. It is rare that any federal laws or regulations enter into these legal claims.

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