Drones and Liability: When It’s Not Fun Anymore
By Tony Fusco
Remember “Hoverboards?” They were one of the most popular gift found under Christmas trees last year but they were also among the most dangerous. Concussions, stiches, broken bones, spontaneous combustion. Hoverboards had it all. One even took down Mike Tyson! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bRzHqRwGgW0
This year there is a lot of speculation as to what will be this Christmas’ Hoverboard, i.e. the next Christmas mayhem machine…I’ve got one word for you…DRONES.
Drone sales are skyrocketing with no end in sight. From April 2015 through April 2016 drone sales grew 224% according to a report from the TPD Group’s Retail Tracking Service. Drone appeal isn’t just limited to the younger generations either, 90% of drone buyers are actually over the age of 31. http://www.marketwatch.com/story/drone-sales-in-the-us-more-than-doubled-in-the-past-year-2016-05-27
What kind of trouble can drones get you into to? Ask Trevor Bauer, the Cleveland Indian pitcher, who had to miss a start pitching in the ALCS this year after a drone propeller lacerated his pinky finger. http://ftw.usatoday.com/2016/10/trevor-bauer-drone-gross-finger-indians-blue-jays-alcs
Or singer Enrique Iglesias, who bloodied his hand trying to use a drone during a show. http://www.cnn.com/2015/05/31/entertainment/enrique-iglesias-drone-feat/
With drones becoming more and more popular and with more and more users entering the sky, the number of injuries and mishaps will be sure to rise with them, especially with new users. Reports are coming in of users losing control of their drones midflight, flying them into unwanted property or unwanted persons. One of the most publicized incidents occurred when a rookie user lost control and flew his drone onto the White House lawn. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/pogue-5-epic-drone-flying-failures-and-what-the-faa-is-doing-to-prevent-future-mishaps/
Drone Liability Protection?
As injuries and damages from drone use accumulates, liability claims are sure to follow. Perhaps one of the best gifts you can buy your significant other to accompany their drone is insurance and training to go with it. (Best Buy has safety brochures in their stores detailing proper drone safety measures for new users.)
“Homeowner policies will cover damage if a policyholder crashes a drone and damages someone else’s property. But a “first-party claim”—damage you do to your own home—isn’t covered.” Coverage for injuries to persons outside their family might also covered by the general liability portion of their homeowner’s policy. http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/national/2015/12/15/391862.htm
Unfortunately, not everyone has homeowners insurance. Luckily with drone ownership on the rise private plans are available to cover damage done by uninsured drone users. Membership in the Academy of Model Aeronautics charges adults $75 per year. All the group’s 185,000 members enjoy $2.5 million in personal liability coverage from Westchester Surplus Lines Insurance, part of ACE Group, and $25,000 medical coverage.” http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/national/2015/12/15/391862.htm
A new company, Verifly, has created an app that provides on demand polices for drone users for $10 an hour, and provides insurance during that time for within a quarter mile radius of the drone. http://verifly.com/howitworks.html
If you have any questions as to how best protect yourself or others against liability resulting from a drone or if you are one of those unfortunate persons injured by drone misuse call an experienced attorney at Barrett, Fasig and Brooks today.