On December 28, the Federal Aviation Administration announced that drone pilots can fly small drones over people, provided they meet certain terms and conditions. Previously, drone operators could only fly drones over other people if they were located under a “covered structure, or inside a stationary vehicle.”
The report says, “Although the FAA expects the probability of injuries that may occur from an operation of a small unmanned aircraft over people to be small, when that low probability is multiplied by an increased number of operations, some additional risk of injury exists.”
In our own community, more people than ever are using drones. Aspiring drone pilots can even take certification courses at SUNY Ulster in Stone Ridge and SUNY Dutchess in Poughkeepsie. There are many safety precautions that drone pilots take, and most drones aren’t large enough or fast enough to kill a person.
What are the most common drone injuries?
- Concussions and other traumatic brain injuries
- Eye injuries
- Finger and toe amputations
- Accidents with aircraft
It’s also possible that a drone operator could cause an accident by harassing or having a near-miss with a driver, bicyclist, motorcyclist, or pedestrian.
How many drones are near Kingston, NY or Poughkeepsie?
As of 2016, Time Magazine reported that there were:
- 265 drones registered in Ulster County
- 471 drones registered in Dutchess County
- 528 drones registered in Orange County, NY
At the time, there were a total of 459,384 drones registered in the United States. The latest total on the Federal Aviation Administration’s website is 1,782,479; so it can be reasonably expected that the county numbers are about 4X larger than they were in 2016.
Another wrinkle is that thanks to the FAA’s December 28 guidance, it’s expected that OSHA is going to expand its use of drones to conduct worksite inspections of construction sites.
EHS Today went on in greater detail:
“OSHA inspections must adhere to what is called the “plain sight rule.” That means anything the compliance officer lawfully observes during the inspection can be the basis of a citation. As you might well expect, the scope of what is in plain sight expands considerably when drones are used by inspectors.”
How safe are drones?
In 2019, the Alliance for System Safety released the results of an 18 month study about drones colliding with people. They tested across 16 different models of drones and conducted 512 impact tests, and found that the most dangerous kind of collision is when drones lose control and hit human beings upside-down; with sharp rotor arms rather than with the body of the drone.
Some examples of drone accidents include:
- 2013: A drone recording a festival in Virginia crashed into the stands, injuring several people
- 2014: A drone carrying mistletoe as part of a TGI Fridays promotion clipped the end of a photographer’s nose in Brooklyn, NY
- 2014: A photography drone crashed into a tri-athlete during an event, causing wounds that required stitches to close
- 2014: A drone nearly collided with a commercial airliner in flight near London
As drones become more and more prevalent, accidents like these will increase. If you’ve been injured in an accident with a drone, give us a call at 845-600-0000 to set up a free consultation at our offices in Kingston, NY or Poughkeepsie. We’ll pursue every avenue to possible to obtain the full compensation for your injuries.
How could a drone accident victim recover damages?
- Medical expenses directly related to the injury, including hospital bills, physical therapy, medications and more
- Lost wages caused by the injury
- Emotional pain and loss of enjoyment of life related to the injuries caused by the drone
- Compensation for permanent disfigurement or scarring
Liability for a drone accident could be shared by the drone pilot or operator, the manufacturer of the drone, the seller of the drone, the drone owner, or the owner of the property where the drone accident occurred.