Drones or “unmanned aircraft systems” (UAS) are more popular than ever. According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), in January 2016 more than 300,000 people had registered their drones in compliance with its new drone registration rule. The FAA’s registration rule that took effect in December 2015 mandated that all drones in the United States weighing .55 pounds or more needed to be registered and affixed with a registration number by February 2016. Accordingly, the FAA reported that drone registration now exceeds piloted aircraft registrations in the agency’s database. Since drone usage has skyrocketed over the years, state and federal agencies have focused on the potential liability issues that can arise such as personal injuries and defectively designed products.
Personal Injury Stories
In the most recent released magazine by the American Association for Justice (AAJ), there are a few stories that highlight the consequences of handling drones in an unsafe manner. For example, during a Gay Pride Parade in Seattle a drone careened off a plaza building and knocked a woman unconscious. The man operating the drone was convicted of reckless endangerment, sentenced to 30 days in jail, and order to pay a $500 fine to enroll in a drone safety course. Additionally, the AAJ reported that multiple injuries occurred when a drone recording an event crashed into spectators at Virginia Motorsports Park. The AAJ noted the common cause of personal injuries is either operator negligence or the drone itself is defective in design.
What Should You Do After Being Injured By A Drone?
In order to bring a negligence claim against the operator of the drone, you have to demonstrate unsafe or reckless operation. The AAJ suggests that a good starting point for your claim would be to review the safety standards found in the Drone Pilots Association Code of Conduct or the Academy of Model Aeronautics National Model Aircraft Safety Code. Drone users should be aware that many homeowner policies do not cover liability for recreational drone use, just property loss for the cost of the drone itself.
If a design defect in a drone has resulted in a personal injury and you are pondering a products liability claim, the AAJ notes that a good thing to consider is whether the drone was safe as designed. Generally, many state laws provide for strict liability for unsafe drone designs. When assessing you potential claim, the AAJ suggests that you inquire as to whether the drone came with propeller guards and whether the drone operator removed the propeller guards to possibly enhance performance. Other safety features to consider are the software options, in-flight collision avoidance systems, in-flight minimum safe altitude warnings, and parachute release that terminate flight.
Contact Us Today
The Bottaro Law Firm, LLC is well versed in RI and MA personal injury law. Accordingly, we encourage awareness regarding the stated risks of drones and encourage those who have been harmed by a drone to consult with experienced counsel to protect their rights. If you have a potential personal injury claim call or text us at 401-777-7777 or fill out our online form.