Drones, also known as UAV’s (unmanned aerial vehicles), are becoming a public sensation. As their popularity grows and more people own them, legal issues have begun to surface. For instance, beginning on December 21, 2015, the FAA, Federal Aviation Administration, will require drones weighing between 0.55 lbs and 55 lbs, including cameras, to be registered. Besides the new administrative rules, there are also other laws that can apply to drones.
One such issue is that of the invasion of privacy. A man in Kentucky found this out the hard way. His drone was shot out of the air by a homeowner. The homeowner claimed that the drone was spying on his 16-year-old daughter. A Kentucky state court judge found that the homeowner did not violate any law by shooting down the drone over his own property.
There have been numerous other reports of drones causing problems with larger aircraft. Airline pilots have reported close calls with drones when landing or taking off. This can endanger a lot of people’s lives. During the California wildfires of 2015 drones reportedly caused helicopters to be grounded. The drones in the air made it hazardous for the helicopters that were trying to drop water on the wild fires. Issues like these cause concern in the minds of regulators and insurers alike. As more and more people take to the sky, via unmanned drones, a whole new area of liability is opening up. The law will be required to assess what is trespass, invasion of privacy, nuisance, and even if liability coverage is available for negligence. With new regulations being enacted, it would be wise to make sure you understand and comply with all the laws and regulations that come with drone ownership and operation. Even with all the new rules, drones can still be fun but it is important to pilot them safely and responsibly.