Drone use continues to rise. People are using drones in a variety of different ways, both personally and professionally. For many, drones have made life easier, but this isn’t always the case.
Drones have caused injuries, property damage, and privacy invasions for thousands of people and many are taking legal action against drone companies and the operators and owners of these devices.
One of the biggest challenges is that drone operation is more complex than many people think. Drones are not toys and should not be treated as such. They occupy the same airspace as planes and helicopters and travel onto private property when in use.
The FAA has authority over the use of all hobby and commercial drones, and commercial operators are supposed to obtain a remote pilot certification, but many do not before using their drones.
Smaller drones flown by hobbyists must still abide by certain federal laws regarding where they fly, what time they fly, how they treat right-of-way, and whether they are flying over large crowds of people or over major landmarks. Drones are also not allowed to fly over emergency response efforts or leave the operator’s line of site.
FAA Files Lawsuit against SkyPan for Misuse of Drone
In one recent lawsuit, the FAA sued the company SkyPan for taking aerial drone photos over restricted areas and then publishing those photos.
The company had to pay $200,000 and agreed to pay $150,000 in the future every time it violates FAA rules. SkyPan also agreed to help the FAA create PSAs concerning safe and compliant drone operation.
Drone Regulations Might Be Easing
In 2017, the president issued an executive order allowing more drones to fly in the sky. The order also allows the FAA and the federal Transportation Department to grant waivers from restrictions.
The order further established the Unmanned Aircraft System Integration Pilot Program, which creates a group made up of state, local, tribal, and industry representatives who will update and establish national drone laws.
Drones and the Invasion of Privacy
In addition to personal and public safety, there are also concerns about privacy and how drones might infringe on the rights of private citizens.
Drones can easily fly over private land and on more than one occasion, a drone operator has intentionally invaded another person’s private space. There are fewer than half a dozen states with drone privacy laws, but that number is expected to rise as more and more people feel their privacy is invaded.
The Drone Aircraft Privacy and Transparency Act was introduced in 2017 by lawmakers from Vermont and Massachusetts in an effort to protect Americans from privacy infringement as it relates to drones. The law would affect both private and commercial drone users.
Have You Been Injured by a Drone?
Drone operators and drone manufacturers can both be held liable when someone is injured by a drone. Though operator error is a problem, many drone collisions occur because of technology flaws – a problem that existed before a drone even reaches the hands of the operator. In many cases, the problem was related to drone-to-controller communications.
If you suffered a physical injury, invasion of privacy, or other financial or personal injuries because of a drone, you could be eligible to take legal action. Drone lawsuits help those suffering damage in a drone incident recover compensation for current and future medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
There are currently numerous lawsuits related to drone operation pending in federal and state courts. Issues raised in these lawsuits include:
- Illegally created drone registration rules
- Destruction of personal property
- Personal injury
Laws will continue to evolve concerning drone use. As technology changes, the law must change too in order to keep up.