We’ve all seen those striking aerial photos floating around the Internet. In some cases, these pictures are taken with a drone. The drone is equipped with a camera and flown over the desired location or subject, taking a picture from a unique perspective.
These photos are gaining in popularity, and party planners are taking note. Although use of the drones can lead to beautiful images, they can also be dangerous. This was highlighted in a recent case out of California, where a party planner hired a drone operator to take a photo of the partygoers from above. Unfortunately, the drone crashed into the partygoers.
A case that may be the first of many: Drone strikes and injures a person
It is unclear whether to drone operator was at fault or whether the drone itself had a defect. Regardless of the cause the following facts remain. The drone somehow dropped from the sky and crashed into one of the partygoers. The drone impacted the partygoer’s head, causing serious injury.
The woman was taken to the hospital for treatment. Due to this accident, she has permanent scaring on her head and face and suffers from headaches.
Examining the legal issues: Premises liability
The case is moving forward based on legal principles present in the legal arena known as premises liability. This area of law is founded in the expectation that property owners keep their premises safe so visitors are not injured. Slip-and-fall accidents and dog attacks are often included in this area of law.
Now it looks like a new type of accident may be included: drone accidents.
A case from California with implications in New York
Although this California case will not likely become precedent in New York, it is always helpful to have an understanding of how other states are ruling in novel areas of the law. If the court finds that drone accidents do fall within the realm of premises liability, it is very possible the same will hold true in New York.