Chances are you’ve seen a drone in the skies above us. If not, you can bet that you will sooner or later. As technology advances, drones will probably become a common part of everyday life. A lot of that will be convenient. You could get your parcels and groceries, even takeout food, delivered right to your doorstep by a flying robot. With the potential for mass encounters of the drone kind, it is important that everyone knows about the legal implications of drone liability.
Causes of Drone Related Accidents
Drone related accidents can be caused by any number of factors. A drone may be a defective product that malfunctions. Pilots frequently lose control of drones due to signal interference. Sometimes drones are operated recklessly. On some rare occasions, drones may be deliberately misused.
Examples of Drone Based Liability Claims
Drones have damaged property, inflicted injuries, and have been used to violate the privacy of both businesses and everyday citizens. Therefore, it is important for everyone to understand laws relating to drone liability. Drone operators need to understand the risks of drone usage while those living underneath these high-flying technological marvels need to know how drone use can impact their lives.
Property damage is a common type of drone-related liability claim. Drones can crash into buildings, slam into ground-based vehicles, and run into other aircraft. In 2016, a careless drone operator crashed a drone into the Empire State Building. In 2017, a drone even ran into a Black Hawk helicopter after the drone’s operator flew it out of range.
Drones don’t just damage private property; they can also damage public property. Drones have started brushfires during crashes and knocked out powerlines. Perhaps the worst example is from 2014, when a tourist accidentally flew a drone into Yellowstone’s Grand Prismatic Spring, risking the national treasure.
Another incident in 2014 resulted in more than property damage. During a promotional event at a TGI Fridays in Brooklyn, a drone crashed into a journalist’s face resulting in serious lacerations. The drone, which was covered in mistletoe, went out of control while attempting to land on someone’s hand. After becoming totally out of control the drone became entangled in the journalist’s hair, before colliding with her face and causing the injuries.
Invasion of Privacy
Peeping drones have drawn a lot of media attention. In Spain, a drone operator was caught using a drone to record nude sunbathers, while in Britain a drone was spotted canvassing a nudist beach. In Kentucky, a concerned father shot a drone out of the sky when he suspected that it was spying on his sunbathing daughter. Although some reports of peeping drones have later turned out to be misunderstandings, drone-based voyeurism is still a very real concern that falls into legally complicated territory.
Who is Liable for Drone Related Injuries and Property Damage
Drone liability is a complicated subject. If damages arise, whose insurance covers the damage? Is it covered by homeowner’s insurance? Does the drone operator have insurance? Are there grounds for a civil suit? What about the manufacturer? If the drone crashed due to a defect, they may be liable. Privacy concerns are even more complicated since it may be difficult to prove intent, especially when drones are regulated by an interplay between several local and federal laws, including FAA regulations.
Call Day or Night for an Attorney if you Have Questions
If you have any questions about drone liability suits in Missouri or would like a free consultation, contact attorney Chris Benjamin at KC Road Lawyers by calling 816-738-5725 or navigating to our contact page for a consultation at the firm’s Lee’s Summit or Butler Missouri offices.