Jim Adler | The Tough, Smart Lawyer
By Jim Adler April 27, 2016


Photo by tiero (iStock by Getty Images)

The widespread growth of drones in our skies has come with nagging problems. Beyond issues such as invasion of privacy, one of those problems is drone accidents. Drones can crash into property or people. When they strike people, drone injuries may be the basis for drone accident lawsuits.

Notable Drone Accidents

Among notable drone accidents are these:
  • In June of 2014, Robert Edelman was flying a drone which crashed into AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys, in Arlington, Texas. No one was injured, but he later paid a $1,000 fine set by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
  • In September of 2015, a toddler was injured by shrapnel when a drone crashed near her stroller in Pasadena, CA. Pieces of the drone flew at the girl, 11 months, and her mother upon impact. The girl was treated for a cut and a contusion at a hospital, and police investigated.
  • In December of 2014, a small “Mobile Mistletoe” drone flown by TGI Friday’s at a New York location hit a news photographer on the face with one of its blades, cutting her nose.

Drones Are Popular

As for how popular drones have become, their use has multiplied by a factor of four each year since 2009. Just last holiday season, an estimated 400,000 drones were sold, says the Consumer Technology Association (CTA). The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) expects 30,000 drones to be in use by the year 2020. Many such drones are flying for commercial use, while others are flown for personal use by individuals. Some businesses even are considering using drones to make deliveries. Pizza, anyone?

Drone Laws, Registering a Drone

Though far from being airplanes, the small, hovering, remote-control drones which often are equipped with cameras are aircraft, and they are regulated by the FAA. Those weighing more than .55 (about half) of a pound and less than 55 pounds must be registered with the FAA. If your drone is a lightweight toy that cost under $100, it likely doesn’t need to be registered. But if you equip a lightweight drone with a camera, that added weight counts toward the minimum of .55 pounds requiring you to register the device. Registering a drone costs $5 for three years. Visit RegisterMyUAS.faa.gov to do so. You’ll need to be at least 13 years old and provide your full name, physical and mailing addresses and an email address. The FAA then will send you a certificate of registration. If requested by law officers, you can show this certificate. Also, you must write your drone’s registration number on the drone itself. If you don’t register your drone, you face possible criminal penalties of as many as three years in jail or as much as a $250,000 fine. Unfortunately, FAA rules governing the flying of drones remain rooted in old rules governing the use of model aircraft. So for now, as with a remote-controlled model plane, you should not fly a drone above 400 feet (the height of a building 30 to 40 stories tall) or near densely populated areas such as stadiums filled with people. You also should not fly a drone within five miles of an airport. And never let a drone out of your eyesight. Also referred to as radio-controlled quadcopters or unmanned aircraft systems (UAC), drones do not require a pilot’s license or even a learner’s permit. That means drones may be operated by those who are not skilled in doing so and may feel they earned their “pilot’s license” to fly by watching a how-to video on YouTube or watching a demonstration at a store. Neither may be enough to fly a drone safely.

Causes of Drone Accidents

Thus, drone accidents can occur, and they can be due to human error. Such errors can lead to a drone hitting a house, a car, a power line or a person instead of landing safely. If flown too high, drones even could interfere with low-flying aircraft, such as helicopters. Even for expert drone flyers, drone accidents also can occur because of bad weather, gusts of wind, collisions with birds and other unanticipated events. Still more drone accidents can happen due to equipment failure or loss of battery power on board the small craft. Also, with more and more drones flying in an unregulated manner, two drones operated independently by different persons could crash into each other and fall.

Drone Accident Lawsuit

If someone in your family was injured by a drone, notify our law firm today. We can help you explore your prospects for a successful drone accident lawsuit to claim payments for your injury losses. When a drone that caused injury was commercially operated, a drone accident lawsuit can target the company which owned or operated it. When the drone was owned by an individual for personal use, that individual and perhaps the manufacturer may be liable, as when equipment malfunctions cause drone crashes. In any event, let us know if you were harmed by a drone. As with any accident caused by someone else’s negligence, victims deserve compensation for their losses. We can fight for your legal right to such economic recovery.
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