SOURCE: The Law Offices of Chalik & Chalik

January 23, 2014 10:00 ET

Parents File Lawsuit on Behalf of Teenage Girl Critically Injured in Panama City Parasailing Accident

Attorneys Call for Stricter Regulations

PANAMA CITY, FL and ROANOKE, IN--(Marketwired - January 23, 2014) - The family of an Indiana teenage girl critically injured in a horrific parasailing accident last summer in Panama City, Fla. has filed a negligence lawsuit against the parasailing company, its owner and the hotel that operated the excursions.

On July 1, 2013, 17-year-old Alexis Fairchild of Huntington, Ind., and her friend Sidney Good of Roanoke, Ind., went up in tandem when strong winds snapped their parasail free from its boat below. Witnesses watched in horror as the girls were flung across the shoreline, smashed into a nearby condo rooftop and were dragged into a power line, before plunging into cars parked below.

"Aquatic Adventures Management Group, which operated Why Knot Parasail, not only ignored the fact that weather conditions had deteriorated, but failed to operate the boat a safe distance from shore," said attorney Deborah Chalik, partner at The Law Offices of Chalik and Chalik, who filed the suit on in Bay County, Fla. on behalf of Alexis' parents Michael and Angelia Fairchild. Chalik and Chalik has successfully represented a number of cases regarding parasailing accidents.

Aquatic Adventure's owner Jeff Jones and Treasure Island Resort Rentals, Inc., also are named defendants. In addition to negligence, the lawsuit includes claims for loss of companionship as well as medical expenses.

Alexis suffered broken bones in her spine, a serious brain injury and a skull fracture and will continue to require medical care for years to come, according to her parents. Since the accident, Alexis has undergone three brain surgeries and she suffers from aphasia, a condition that affects a person's ability to speak, read and write. In addition, she had a spinal fusion surgery and will require plastic surgery on her chin, which was disfigured in the accident.

"Alexis is undergoing occupational and speech therapy and is under the care of a neurosurgeon," said her father Michael Fairchild. "Although she is improving with each day, she has a long road ahead of her."

To make matters worse, as the medical bills continue to mount, both of Alexis' parents lost their jobs after the manufacturing plant they worked for in Indiana laid off dozens of employees.

The Parasail Safety Council, which tracks injuries and deaths nationwide, reports more than 70 people have been killed and at least 1,600 injured between 1982 and 2012. Despite several fatal parasailing accidents in Florida in recent years, the parasail industry as a whole operates with few regulations. Until now, Florida lawmakers have been reluctant to regulate the parasailing industry. District 34 State Senator Maria Sachs is sponsoring SB320, which promises to clean up the industry through increased liability insurance requirements for parasailing operators.

"This lack of oversight means no one is keeping tabs on parasailing operators to make sure ropes that are damaged by sun and saltwater are replaced," said Chalik who has spent years pushing for reform. "Parasailing should be a fun and safe activity, but parasailing companies that cut corners or disregard the safety of their customers can turn the popular beachside pastime into a dangerous and even deadly trip."

About Chalik & Chalik
The Law office of Chalik & Chalik is devoted to helping the victims of personal injury. With offices throughout Florida, Chalik & Chalik's personal injury practice focuses on car accidents, trucking injuries and wrecks, slip and fall personal injury litigation, work-related injuries and medical malpractice. Over the past several years, the firm has handled several parasailing accident cases and has been at the forefront of securing legislation in the Florida Legislature to reform the parasailing industry. For more information, visit www.chaliklaw.com

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