Firm News

Bahamian College Student Awarded $3 MIllion Verdict After Devastating Kawasaki Jet-Ski Injury

August 30, 2011

Important Legal Implications for Personal Watercraft Industry

CORAL GABLES, FL – August 30, 2011 – Five years after Megan Sands suffered serious injuries in a Kawasaki Jet-Ski accident, a U.S. jury awarded $3 million in damages to the 26-year-old Bahamian college student.

“This tragic case has important legal implications for the personal watercraft industry,” said Coral Gables attorney Robert L. Parks, who represented Sands in the trial in Savannah, Georgia. “This verdict should put manufacturers on notice that they need to pay far more attention to safety, so that future tragedies can be prevented.”

On August 9, a jury in U.S. District Court Judge William Moore’s courtroom in Savannah, Georgia, ordered Kawasaki to pay $3 million to Sands, who has undergone nearly 20 hospitalizations and surgeries since the watercraft accident.

In its ruling, the jury cited Kawasaki for design negligence since the 2003 Jet Ski lacked a rear seat guard to prevent passengers from falling backward into the dangerous jet thrust, Parks said. In addition, the jury found that the Jet Ski’s warning advising users to wear a wet suit or protective clothing – a requirement for all personal watercraft manufacturers since the early 2000’s – was inadequate.

“There is no question that personal watercraft need to be designed with better safety features and warning notices,” said Parks. “The Sands case should be a wake-up call for the industry.”

Sands was a resident of Nassau on May 21, 2006, when she decided to go with her friends to Rose Island near New Providence. She boarded from the passenger side, as the watercraft operator proceeded slowly along the beach. The watercraft stopped and Sands spent several minutes talking with her friends, before deciding to head back. At that point the Jet Ski operator hit the throttle and lost control of the watercraft. Sands was thrown off the back of the craft, and suffered multiple injuries from the powerful jet of water coming from the stern.

“Ms. Sands has shown incredible resilience in continuing her career plans, since the accident,” Parks said. “She is to be congratulated for recently earning her master’s degree in counseling at Georgia Southern University.”

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About The Law Offices of Robert L. Parks, P.L.
The Law Offices of Robert L. Parks, P.L. is a Coral Gables-based plaintiff’s litigation firm specializing in aviation litigation, offshore resort litigation, premises liability, negligent security, commercial litigation, maritime/admiralty litigation, and general wrongful death and personal injury claims. Since being admitted to the Florida Bar in 1964, Parks has represented plaintiffs in hundreds of personal injury, wrongful death, aviation, offshore resort litigation, watercraft, large manufacturing and automobile cases in the Americas and around the world. For more information, please contact Robert L. Parks at bob@rlplegal.com or call (305) 445-4430.