What Is a Drone?
A drone is an unmanned aircraft. In a real sense, a drone is a flying robot. Formally they are known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or unmanned aircraft systems (UASes).
A drone can either be remotely controlled or it can fly autonomously using software-controlled flight plans that is in their embedded systems and works in conjunctions with onboard GPS and sensors.
At first, drones were mainly used by the military for anti-aircraft target practice and for intelligence gathering.
Today, drones have a wide range of uses and are accessible by civilians. Drones are used for search and rescue, traffic monitoring, surveillance, firefighting and weather monitoring.
Drones have also become a popular option for photography purposes since they provide great aerial views.
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The first ever drone that was used was called the Queen Bee and it was fitted with a radio and a server operated control in the back seat. Conventionally the drone was supposed to be operated from the front seat but it flew unmanned. Today there are various private companies that have been given the mandate to build drones.
Amazon was the first company in 2013 to announce that it would use drones for commercial deliveries. Drone surveillance and drone journalism is also popular today. Drone racing is also a popular venture among drone lovers.
More and more people have been interested in drones and drone schools have been opened to teach people about drones.
Do I Need a Lawyer If I’ve Been Injured?
If you were injured in a drone accident then your best bet is to contact a personal injury immediately to better understand your legal rights.
If you have been injured in a drone crash then contact our personal injury attorneys for a Free consultation.
Regulation of Drones
The high use of drones has brought about the need to have laws in place that regulate the use of drones. In the past drones have been found to cause accidents or hit aircraft and this is dangerous.
The U.S. Federation Aviation Administration (FAA) has provided regulations that manage drones. The regulations are referred to as the unmanned aircraft rules under Part 107 and it places limits on autonomous and semi-autonomous drone operation. The regulations include:
- A drone/unmanned aircraft should remain within a visual line-of-sight of the remote pilot in command and the person manipulating the flight controls of the small UAS or, alternately, within VLOS of the visual observer.
- A drone should at all times remain close enough the remote pilot in command and the person manipulating the flight controls for those people to be capable of seeing the aircraft unaided by any device other than corrective lenses.
- Drones shouldn’t operate directly over persons who are not operating it or under a covered structure or inside a covered stationary vehicle.
- Daylight-only operations, or civil twilight (30 minutes before official sunrise to 30 minutes after official sunset, local time) with appropriate anti-collision lighting
- Drones must yield the right of way to other aircraft.
Drone Accident Statistics
According to the Federal Aviation Administration, there were 582 new reports of incidents that were connected to unmanned aircraft in the U.S. airspace system.
These reports dated from August 21, 2015 to January 31, 2016.
- The findings showed that the new reports matched to those of past trends.
- Only a third of all the incidents were Close Encounters i.e these are incidents that would lead to a potential hazard.
- Reported incidents continue to increase as compared to previous years. During this period, there were three times the number of accidents as compared to the previous year at the same time.
- Out of 5 incidents, 3 happened within 5 miles of an airport and 9 out 0f 10 incidents occurred above 400 feet.
- A third of all Close Encounter incidents involved a multi-engine aircraft.
- There were 24 incidents where drones came within 50 feet near a manned aircraft. There were 11 incidences where aircraft made maneuvers to avoid the drone.
Statistics in Cities
In New York and Newark there were 43 close encounters and sightings. In Los Angeles and Long Beach, there were 25 close encounters and sightings. In Dallas and Addison, there were 18 close encounters and findings. In San Diego, there were 15 close encounters and sightings while in Orlando and Houston there were 13 and 11 close encounters and sightings. In both Philadelphia and Santa Ana, there were 9 close encounters and sightings. In both Atlanta and Chicago, there were 8 close encounters and findings. In Seattle, there were 7 close encounters and sightings.
According to a research done by Mashables, most drone accidents are caused by technological issues rather than human error.
According to the FAA, there will be up to 7 million drones being used in the U.S. The FAA projected that 2.5 million drones are being used this year
According to the FAA, there are more than 406,000 people who have registered their drones. However, their files show that to date, only 320,000 have been recorded to have been piloted.
The first death related to a drone was reported in London when a young woman died in a car crash. She was the driving the car and it was believed that her boyfriend was operating the drone. The drone was found in their car.
One other serious accident that has happened in the past in relation to drones is when a drone narrowly missed colliding with an Airbus A320 which was taking odd from Heathrow Airport in London. The Civil Aviation Authority in the U.K. rated this incident as a “serious risk of collision”. This is the top most rating of a collision.
Drone Accident Injuries
Many people see drones as harmless and the machines are great to use. However, drones have been known to cause serious injuries. There are cases where a drone hits you. Some of the injuries that can be caused by drones include:
- Facial lacerations
- Hand injuries
- Head injuries
- Eye injuries
- Potential broken bones, back, neck and spinal cord injuries.
Causes of Drone Accidents
- Lack of flight experience and knowledge
- Drone manufacturing companies market drones as easy to operate when they are truly not. Flying a drone requires training.
- Use of wrong drones by first time users. There are cases where first time users buy huge drones rather than starting with small ones.
- Ignoring rules set by the FAA. There are users who try to take photos near airports and this is dangerous since it can lead to a collision with a plane.
Steps to Take When You Are Injured From a Drone
- First you should ensure that you get medical help. Drones can lead to serious injuries and in some cases they may be internal. You may think that you are okay but truth is that you have injured yourself. It is therefore recommended that you seek medical assistance.
- Contact the company that had licensed you and inform them of the accident.
- Ensure you get you drone repaired before using it again. If you haven’t fully known how operate a drone, ensure that you get to learn the skills required. You can either go online or ask for guidance at the place where you bought the drone.
- Contact a personal injury lawyer that handles drone accident cases
Types of Drones
Drones come in various sizes that include little, small, large and big drones.
- Tricopter – a drone with three propellers
- Quadrocopter – a drone with four propellers
- Octocopter – this is a drone with four propellers. It is sometimes referred to as a multicopter or a hexacopter
- Camera drone
- A drone with or without GPS.
- Drone with stabilizers
Drone Accident Insurance
Homeowner’s policy and the renter’s policy normally covers drones. However, this is not enough adding to the fact that only 40 percent of renters in the United States have coverage. This is according to the Insurance Information Institute which is a nonprofit group.
A drone is normally covered as personal property and the average deductible is usually $500.
Insurance coverage that covers injury and damage caused by a drone normally relies on the circumstances of the accident. One has to prove that there was negligence and if the drone damaged someone’s property, it improves the chances of getting damages.
Every claim is evaluated depending on its own merit with the insurance company. If a drone causes damage to your personal property, then it falls under basic coverage on your structure. Homeowners insurance doesn’t however cover injuries to your own family members or pets. This is covered by medical insurance policy.
If body injury is caused to someone who is outside your family, the liability will fall under homeowner’s policy. This will protect you from lawsuits over privacy issues.
In case where a drone falls from the sky and causes damage to your car (this sounds fanciful but it can happen), then this will be covered by the comprehensive section of auto policy and in many cases it is in the deductibles.
If a drone weighs over 0.55 pounds, it is a requirement that they should register with the Federal Aviation Agency. In case there is an accident, the drone owner can be identified and the auto insurance can file a claim under the person’s home or renter’s policy.
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