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Your Drone Is Your Responsibility

This falls squarely in the category of “21st century, first world problems,” but it bears repeating. We now live in a time where agile, versatile, extremely easy-to-use aerial surveillance technology exists in the form of drones. What was once a covert technology of the American military is now something that any American can buy in a store and start using.

However, just because you can buy a drone in a store and immediately take it to the air, it doesn’t mean you should. Especially from a legal standpoint. There are things that you, as a drone user, need to take into account if you don’t want to run into legal trouble and especially if you want to avoid being implicated in a personal injury lawsuit.

Register Your Drone

A few years ago, the Federal Aviation Administration, or FAA, came to the decision that drones are, in fact, aircraft. As a result, they fell under FAA jurisdiction, and it meant that no American is allowed to operate an unregistered aircraft. So while it is only a nominal fee, any American that wishes to legally operate a drone must fill out a registration and pay the fee for that registration before drone operation can take place. And there are stiff fines, running thousands of dollars, that can be levied against people who choose to ignore this and are caught.

Your Duty To Safety

More importantly than being legally registered, however, is your legal responsibility to operate a drone safely. In the same way that negligent practices on the road can lead others to take you to court if you drive a vehicle improperly, the same is true of drone usage. If you ignore the potential harm your drone can do, while in operation, this leaves you open to the same type of negligence-related, personal injury lawsuits that a careless driver is vulnerable to.

For example, one of the laws that is in place for drone usage is that, unless being used by qualified personnel, for specific, commercial needs, you are not allowed to follow other vehicles or people, especially without their consent. So if you were flying your drone, saw a sports car you were impressed with, and brought that drone down for a closer looking, colliding into the car and causing it to go off the road, you would be at fault. Not only did you ignore the laws in place that forbid you from following other non-consenting citizens with your drone, your actions resulted in an accident, possibly with injuries as a consequence.

So even though you weren’t “really there,” because the drone was being operated remotely, you must still face the consequences of this kind of vehicular negligence. Once drones became legally considered aircraft, any careless actions you take with drones can similarly be considered vehicular negligence, with the same legal and financial ramifications. You may think it’s just a “flying camera,” but in the eyes of the law, it’s a vehicle that you must operate with care.

This is why if you find yourself in a situation where someone’s drone hurt you, you should think about talking to a personal injury lawyer.