Drone Liability – Careful with your drones!!!

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The use of drones by private citizens all over the world is increasing significantly. The exact number of drones that have been sold is a difficult number to estimate. Rough government estimates put the number at over 1 million drones. That is a lot of flying objects!!! Since these drones can fly to high altitudes, over people’s houses, over people and over our roads and highways, they are a potential threat to our safety. Some are so advanced they can even reach heights that can potentially interfere with our air traffic safety. Because of this, people who use drones need to be careful how they are used.

Last year, state lawmakers in Florida placed privacy restrictions on the use of drones, and this year they are pushing for liability in the event of personal injury or property damage.  Miami Republican Senator Miguel Diaz De La Portilla believes with more operators and more drones there’s greater danger. “It’s only a matter of time before drone incidents become serious drone accidents.” De La Portilla said at the measure’s last committee stop in November.

The bill that is being introduced to the Florida legislature is an attempt to recognize the dangerous nature of drones and provides that the owner and operator of a drone are jointly and severally liable for personal injuries or property damage caused by the negligent operation of a drone.

The bill faces opposition from business groups. Despite opposition, a Florida Senate committee recently passed a proposal from a Miami Republican that would make Floridians who own or operate unmanned drones liable for the cost of any damage and injury they cause. The Senate Judiciary Committee passed an amended version of Chairman Miguel Diaz de la Portilla’s measure by a 5-4 vote.

Drones have become increasingly more common for a variety of commercial and recreational uses. Senate Bill 642 would allow Floridians to recover costs from the owner or operator of a drone if “negligent operation” of the device caused them injury or damaged their property. The bill has two more committee stops in the Senate before it could even reach the chamber floor. Its House companion hasn’t been heard yet.

In a recent vote, Republican Senators, Lizbeth Benacquisto, of Fort Myers, joined Diaz de la Portilla and the committee’s three Democrats to advance the bill. In opposition: Republican Sens. Aaron Bean of Fernandina Beach, Jeff Brandes of St. Petersburg, Wilton Simpson of Trilby, and Kelli Stargel of Lakeland.

Diaz de la Portilla previously said he put forth the legislation to fill a “void in the law,” because people who suffer injury or property damage from a drone don’t have any recourse in our current Florida laws.

If you or someone you know has been injured by a drone and have any questions, please call us for a free consultation at 561-266-9191 or email us at daronberg@build.simple.biz.