Drones and quadcopters are increasingly popular with American gadget lovers, but these fun devices can have a darker side. Drone and quadcopter accidents across the United States are also on the increase, leading to property damage and injuries to innocent bystanders. If you or somebody you love suffers an injury from somebody else's drone, you could file a personal injury lawsuit. Learn more here.
Recreational use of drones
You can normally fly a small unmanned aircraft system (sUAS) for recreational use without a license. Nonetheless, you should still stick to the Federal Aviation Authority's safety guidelines.
Under these rules you must:
- Fly no higher than 400 feet
- Keep the aircraft in sight at all times
- Not intentionally fly over unprotected people
- Only fly in good weather conditions
Unfortunately, accidents still happen. In one accident, a well-intentioned holiday promotion resulted in an accident where a drone crashed into a New York photographer's face. In fact, there were three reported accidents in one day in October 2015.
Liability for a quadcopter accident
If a quadcopter or drone crashes into the ground, the chances are that it's only the owner who will feel any pain when he or she sees the repair bill. Nonetheless, if a quadcopter causes a serious injury, the injured party can seek damages from the operator. Of course, like any other personal injury lawsuit, the person with the injury would need to prove that the operator was legally liable.
For some accidents, the operator's liability seems obvious, but in many cases, your attorney would need to prove negligence through carelessness. Several factors could help determine the operator's negligence.
Examples that could prove the operator was liable include:
- Any breach of the FAA's safety guidelines. For example, if the operator flew the drone over a crowd of people at an event, an attorney could argue that he or she was negligent.
- Poor maintenance. An investigation could show that the drone was in a poor state of repair. A personal injury attorney would argue that the operator failed his or her duty of care.
- DUI. If the operator was drinking at the time of the accident, he or she may not have been able to adequately control the drone.
In many personal injury cases, the defendant's attorney will try to show that the plaintiff was in some way negligent also. For a drone injury, this is less likely to become an issue as you were probably just minding your own business when the drone struck you. However, if you were standing somewhere that was off-limits to the public, the defendant's attorney may use this against you. This type of comparative fault can reduce the value of any compensation you receive, so you should always seek legal advice
Why it's important to report the accident
It's important to report every drone accident to the police, especially if you don't have any witnesses. Without a police report, your attorney may later struggle to prove the incident took place. What's more, it isn't always easy to trace the drone's operator without police intervention. If you can't trace the owner, you'll find it harder to file the lawsuit.
Make sure you keep evidence of your injuries, too. Seek medical attention straight away and keep all details of the injury and treatment you receive. The Statute of Limitations in most states gives you a limited period (often two years) in which you can file the claim. This period normally starts from the date you receive or first realize you have an injury. A medical report can help you prove when this occurred.
If you suffer an injury from a quadcopter or recreational drone, you should seek the help of a trained personal injury attorney as soon as possible. He or she can make sure you present the strongest possible case and will help you get the right level of compensation. Click here for additional info.