Drones are exciting devices that have applications as toys and in industry. They may be used in the future to deliver products, and security agencies often use them for scanning properties remotely. However, the laws governing drones are evolving as the technology related to them changes. So far, operators who exhibit clear negligence and injure someone else with their drone may be held responsible for their carelessness in the same way they would after a car accident. We’ve explained five common causes of drone accidents or injuries below.
One threat of drones occurs when they fall out of the sky. Drones have the potential to run out of power or come to a stop in the sky, falling dozens or even hundreds of feet down. If a person or group of people happen to below the falling drone, critical injury such as a concussion can occur.
The spinning blades that keep a drone in the air are sharp and can seriously harm a person should they come into contact with them. In England, an 18-month old child lost his eye as a result of the spinning blades coming into contact with his face after a neighbor lost control of the drone. Because drones are newer to the market, the public is not as aware of the risk as they may be of a child staying away from fan or aircraft blades.
Another common hazard with drones, is when their operator loses control of them. The drone may then risk a crash that may cause personal injury or property damage. A drone is lightweight so may quickly reach speeds as fast as a car. Unfortunately children and adults have had eye, facial or other injuries after being struck by a drone.
There are many instances where the improper operation of drones have injured people. A cautionary tale is when a wedding photographer crashed his three-pound photo quadcopter into the faces of two guests during the reception. In this case, the laws consider whether the operator was negligent or acted in a responsible manner when operating a hazardous machine. Better safety manuals in products, and training for staff that use drones in the workplace are needed.
In some cases, drone technology will fail, causing the machine to crash into a person or harm them in some way. In cases like these, the drone operator may not be held responsible for the injuries, but rather, the company that designed and/or manufactured the drone. If it is not quite clear who was piloting the drone at the time, or what experience the pilot had, or they claim the device malfunctioned this legal recourse may be considered under product liability laws. In some cases the remote control or battery are faulty or lose their wireless connection to the device while it is in operation.
Because this is a newer area of injury or property damage law, it is key to hire an attorney, like a personal injury lawyer Chicago IL relies on, who is careful in their research and preparation.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from The Law Offices of Konrad Sherinian for their insight into drone liability and personal injury practice.