With Christmas comes gifts like hover boards and paintball guns that are highly desired but require skill to operate properly. An item sure to be a popular present this year is the unmanned aircraft system—commonly known as a drone. Drones, in the hands of new, untrained users, can be dangerous, and even when operated by experienced users they increasingly are causing accidents and injuries. https://www.faa.gov/uas/getting_started/
Drones cause accidents by dropping out of the sky or crashing into people and things. Collision with a drone, with its sharp angular parts, high speeds of travel and zooming in seemingly out of nowhere, naturally results in physical injuries and damage to whatever it hits.
Drones can malfunction for many reasons, such as an operator failing to correctly gauge speed, distance, angle, height, weather conditions, etc. A drone may unexpectedly lose power midflight. Also, a drone may have a defect in its design or manufacturing.
When someone is hurt by a drone that’s being used recreationally, general negligence principles apply. If the drone operator made a mistake that caused the drone to crash, the operator would be negligent and could be held individually liable. In such a case, a legal claim may be pursued against the drone owner.
However, many recreational drone owners do not have insurance coverage for accidents — at least not yet. Retailers are just now beginning to recommend that drone buyer’s purchase liability coverage, in case they injure someone while operating the device.
Defective drone liability
If the drone was defective, the injured person can sue the manufacturer of the drone for product liability. Drone defects are a developing area of the law; as of yet there aren’t standards for what constitutes a safe drone design or the manufacturer’s duty of care to users and others. However, as more accidents occur, more people will file legal action against drone makers, and standards will evolve as a consequence.
Invasion of privacy
Another form of injury drone use presents is invasion of privacy. Because drones are small and often equipped with cameras, they have the ability to reach places and vistas most people cannot. A drone can hover outside the windows of a private home or office or loom over a secluded backyard and take photos of people who rightfully believe they are protected by their right to privacy.
Allowing or directing a drone to intrude on someone’s solitude or private activities is an invasion of privacy that may subject the drone operator to liability if the intrusion would be considered offensive to a reasonable person.
In Georgia, the prospect of drones being used for this purpose is considered so offensive that the state legislature is considering a bill to legally prohibit unmanned aircraft from capturing images under a wide range of circumstances.
Many forms of relief are available to you if you are injured in an accident with a drone or your privacy is invaded. Remedies include monetary damages, punitive damages, and injunctive relief. The lawyers of Angell Law Firm are expert personal injury attorneys; it’s the only kind of case they handle. If you have been hurt and injured in an accident involving a drone you may be entitled to damages. Call (770) 217-4954 today to discuss your case.