Harmed By Drones – It Definitely Could Happen

Posted by Olson Law Firm & filed under , .

Experienced Minneapolis Civil Litigation Lawyers

Drone technology is breaking new ground in many ways. Where the law is concerned, what recourse does an individual have if they have been harmed by drones? How likely is it that a person could become a drone victim?

A drone is defined as an unmanned aerial vehicle, or UAV. Drones are controlled remotely by operators. No longer is drone technology reserved for military personnel only. Small drones are widely available to consumers through retailers today. They are capable of flying at a top speed of thirty miles per hour as high as one thousand feet for a sustained time of about thirty minutes. This means there is potential for drones to cause any number of problems for the public. Offences to be aware of where drones are concerned:

Personal Injury & Property Damage

With top speed potential clocking in at thirty miles per hour, drones can cause serious injuries should one collide with a pedestrian or motor vehicle out on the road. Drones have quick maneuver capabilities which can lead to a loss of control. Featuring sharp edges, should it come into contact with a person, serious injuries could result. Collision with a motor vehicle could result not only in property damage to the car, but could also cause a major motor vehicle accident involving multiple cars and drivers.

Privacy Concerns

Estimates by the Consumer Electronics Association reports that approximately 340,000 drones were sold for recreational use in 2015. With ownership numbers rising, so rises the risk that drone related incidents will increase. If a neighbor would like to take a remote peek into your backyard or bathroom window, they very well could with a drone that is camera equipped and has hover capability.

Some of the most famous drone cases involve crashes, security breaches, personal injuries, aircraft related near-disasters and illegal drugs:

  • January, 2015: A drone crashed on the lawn of the White House. Despite the strict security surrounding the nation’s capitol, there was nothing that could detect an invasion of it’s immediate airspace by a drone. Lucky for the drone operator the White House did not press charges.
  • December, 2014: A photographer covering Brooklyn’s TGI Friday’s event using drones to capture images of couples kissing under the mistletoe got the tip of his nose clipped off when a drone flew out of control.
  • March, 2015: A Washington state news helicopter had a near miss with a drone that came within mere feet of the aircraft.
  • January, 2015: At the U.S./Mexico border a drone crashed revealing that it was carrying over six pounds of methamphetamine.

So, for good or bad, drones are here to stay it seems. In the early stages of a new consumer product or new technology there are few regulations. This is also the case where drones are concerned. There are no guidelines assuring that drone operators are qualified and competent. This puts the public at risk of out-of-control drones wreaking havoc on the public. There are no privacy laws in play which means that drone operators could also wreak havoc on unsuspecting victims. Despite the recent appearance of drones on the public consumer market, there are at least a few federal laws that govern their use:

  • Maximum altitude of 400 feet
  • Must remain in an obstacle free zone
  • Operation not allowed near people
  • Operation not allowed within five miles of airports
  • Weight limit of fifty-five pounds

However, considering that federal guidelines do not protect the privacy of individuals, such cases would then need to be reviewed by qualified attorneys. If you have received personal injuries or property damage because of a drone, or if you believe a drone has intruded upon your personal privacy, please contact us. We are here to help not only where injury and damages are concerned but also if your personal privacy has been compromised.

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