Over the past decade and a half, drones have become more affordable, and increasingly capable of being operated by a novice pilot. But as more drones take to the skies, there is also a significant risk of accidents involving them.Drones can easily fall from the sky, crashing into your property or even a member of your family. In August 2016, the Independent reported that a London woman who died in a car crash may be the first person to die due to the non-military use of drones.
Even the military, with experienced pilots and some of the best equipment in the world, has had more than 400 drone crashes in accidents since 2001. From these incidents, we know that human error, mechanical failure, and bad weather can result in accidents. As more pilots and businesses launch drones to photograph events, deliver products, and perform other tasks, it seems like only a matter of time before people or property will be injured, and someone will need to seek compensation for their injuries.
If you or a family member were injured in a drone accident, call 1-866-521-0865 to speak to an attorney at McEldrew Young Purtell Merritt. We can help you determine if you have a case with a free consultation.
How Popular Are Drones?
Though they may seem like a modern invention, drones have been used since the mid-1800s. The military has provided much of the research and funding for today’s modern drones. In 2006, the first non-military drones began entering the market and the FAA issued its first commercial drone permit. In 2013, retail giant Amazon announced it was planning to use drones to make deliveries, which has brought renewed concern about the safety of drones in public spaces.
Commercial drones have faced a slew of regulations over the years, but personal and recreational drones have been used with much less scrutiny. These hobby drones typically have four propellers, and cost as little as $15, with an average cost of $280. Hobby drones are now a multi-billion dollar industry.
Regulation of Recreational Drones
The FAA has a few minimum regulations regarding recreational drones. These include:
- Drones must be under 55 lbs
- Drones must be registered to someone over the age of 13
- Drones must fly within a visual line of sight
- Drones cannot fly near emergency vehicles or other aircraft
- Drone operators must notify the air traffic control tower before flying within 5 miles of any airport
- Drones must be flown for a recreational purpose
Dangers From Recreational Drones
Drones are remotely-piloted, unmanned aerial vehicles, sometimes referred to as UAVs. Along with regulatory issues and privacy concerns, there are also very real concerns about the skill level of amateur pilots and the dangers these vehicles may pose to bystanders. Drone pilots are not required to receive any sort of training before operation and are only required to follow the FAA restrictions cited above.
But drones are not simple remote-controlled planes – they sport at least four long sharp blades, which can seriously injure or maim anyone that comes into contact with them. They can fly at top speeds of 100mph, up to 400ft in the air, meaning that when they crash, they can cause severe damage and injuries. Many people were made aware of the dangers that drones can pose when a story was reported of a drone cutting off the tip of a photographer’s nose, or when a drone famously “attacked” German Chancellor Angela Merkel. In Pennsylvania, a 375lb military drone crashed out of the sky landing next to an elementary school, though luckily there were no injuries reported.
New Drone Laws
The FAA has recently unveiled several new laws that have wide-ranging implications for the use of commercial and recreational drone use.
- Remote ID: The new remote-id laws state that every drone in US airspace needs to broadcast its location and the location of its pilot. This is a form of a license plate for drones, and allows them to be recognized without sharing their flight history or data
- Drones operating without a pilot: The FAA has agreed to allow American Robotics to operate their drones without on-site pilots. With this ruling, American Robotics is “ushering in a new era of widespread automated drone operations” that will change the way drones are operated in the future
- Commercial night operations/operations over people: The FAA now allows commercial night operations if the operator receives additional training and the drone is equipped with exterior lights. Commercial drones will also be permitted to fly over people if they meet safety requirements
Drone Accident Lawsuits
If you were injured by a drone, there may be several avenues for you to pursue legal action to recover your medical expenses or damage to property. These include:
- Negligent operation: Most cases of drone injury will involve a lawsuit against the operator for intentional or negligent conduct in the pre-flight preparation or flight of the drone
- Commercial operations without a license: The Federal Aviation Administration requires privately operated drones for commercial purposes to comply with a number of safety measures that hobbyists are not bound by.
- Defective products: If a drone crashes due to a product defect, the appropriate remedy for an injury could be a lawsuit against the manufacturer of the unmanned aerial vehicle
- Defective software: The accident could be the result of various third-party drone apps that are available on the marketplace, rather than the manufacturer
- Premises liability: If the drone is being flown on a property with the permission of the owner, the owner could also be responsible for injuries to guests on the property who are injured by the drone
Contact a Skilled Drone Accident Lawyer
Drone injuries can cause serious physical damages, as well as damages to property. It can often be difficult to determine who is exactly at fault in a drone accident, and proving who the negligent party is will be critical in bringing a successful lawsuit.
If you or a family member are injured by a drone, please call 1-866-521-0865 to speak to an attorney at McEldrew Young Purtell Merritt about seeking compensation for your injuries. This may include compensation for pain and suffering, as well as lost wages, damages to property, and medical bills. You can request a free consultation by filling out our form here.