Technology and law have always made a strange pair. This is certainly true for unmanned drones, which have legislators and lawyers perplexed about everything from insurance claims to personal injury disputes. These devices are incredibly innovative and valuable, poised to improve disaster response, construction, real estate, and dozens of other industries. Regulations are slowly catching up, but the technology is not slowing down; the market for unmanned aircraft is expected to explode over the next decade.
Drones have sparked plenty of debate about personal injury law, property damage, privacy concerns, and many other legal areas. In fact, these gadgets have been a major concern for the FAA since their inception. The organization is predicting over 30,000 of these devices will be in use within five years, and specialists are setting aside billions of dollars to ensure their safe operation in tightly regulated commercial air space. Pending laws will govern:
The FAA and federal government must also take steps to regulate:
These problems may seem straightforward, but putting laws into place on this scale requires extensive state, federal (including multiple departments), and international cooperation. Some laws have already been drafted, including the Drone Aircraft Privacy and Transparency Act. This bill set up restrictions on private drone use, specifically outlining privacy standards and data collection regulations, how individuals can protect their rights, and the actions law enforcers can take to control drones.
Personal injury and property damage are two of the most pressing concerns lawmakers currently face. Insurers and legislators must consider where these aircraft operate (such as whether or not they fly over populated areas), their altitude, and their purpose. If a drone crashes into an individual, it would be covered under liability insurance, which also addresses privacy issues and property damage. Again, coverage varies based on several factors. For those working with or around drones, for example, workers’ compensation will need to be extended to cover drones’ use.
Pursing compensation would thus be similar to other liability claims; the company’s insurance would contact a plaintiff with a settlement price (if any). An individual can choose to accept that amount, which may cover the extent of his or her damages. If this is suitable, the matter can be settled out of court. However, for issues involving extensive damage, ongoing medical bills, or matters like wrongful death, working with an attorney may be the only way to receive the full amount a person is owed following damage caused by a wayward drone.
These laws will continue to evolve and so will the insurance policies written for drones. For example, if wrongful death claims increase as the industry grows, insurers will have to change the rates they charge for liability and other coverage options.
The only way to protect your rights in such a dynamic time is to contact an attorney who has followed these laws and will continue to do so as they develop. Though this is a new area, many of the requirements for personal injury suits and property damage settlements are familiar to experienced legal teams.
The Law Firm of Aaron A. Herbert, P.C. has extensive experience recovering the damages our clients are owed following a personal injury. We stay up-to-date on all relevant laws to safeguard their best interests; this includes personal injury and property damage caused by a crashing drone. Reach out for more information about these developing regulations, and schedule a consultation if your privacy or property has been threatened by one of these devices.