As we mentioned in our first post in this Emerging Technology Series about 3D printing, we are technophiles at KBA. We love using the latest technology in our personal lives, in our law firm practice, and as global citizens. Personally, I will get distracted like a cat with a laser pointer by the Chedder videos displaying new tech on LinkedIn while working on our firm page.
As product liability lawyers, emerging technology like artificial intelligence presents great opportunities to litigate more efficiently, but emerging technology also presents risks to our clients, as we covered with respect to 3D printing. So it’s no surprise we’re involved in the latest tech, one of which is drones.
In this multipart subseries, we’re going to cover what drones are, how they can injure people and business, the kinds of legal claims that can be brought, various legal issues associated with lawsuits involving drones, and a survey of this vein of personal injury law. We begin now with an overview of drones and the risks they present.
What Is a Drone?
Some of us think of Star Wars when we hear the word drone. In one of many examples of how sci-fi becomes reality, “A drone was an unmanned aircraft. Governor Koong of Tawntoom Province on the planet Roon used drones to attack his enemies.” Webster’s defines a drone as an “unmanned aircraft or ship guided by remote control or onboard computers.”
Drones can be autonomous – self-directed – or remotely piloted – controlled by someone else. Drones are used in the military, law enforcement, and civilian sectors. Our interest is primarily in civilian uses of drones.
There are many ways humans interact with drones in the civilian world. Consequently, there are many risks to human beings. First, let’s look at different ways people can be exposed to drones.
Flying drones has emerged as an emerging hobby. Educators use it to teach principles of physics and mechanics. People are flying them in open spaces in communities across the country. Other recreational drones can be found in contests and clubs. Retailers like Amazon are employing delivery drones.
How Can Drones Injure People?
A website, TechRepublic, recently reported 17 “disasters” involving drones as examples of the many things what can go wrong with drone usage. We Talk UAVs has a good write-up about common drone injuries.
Putting side drones used in conflicts and for intentional attacks, drones present risks to people in several ways. Of course, they can fail in some way or an operator can err and a drone can thereby injure users or bystanders. Drones can also damage or destroy property. These are some ways drones can lead to personal injury and property damage claims.
But drones don’t just hit people and things, they can cause problems in other ways. They can be used to intimidate and harass people. They can be used to violate people’s privacy. They can spy on and record people’s activity and personal moments. They can also be used to steal corporate secrets. This can lead to business torts.
In our next post on this topic, we will review the kind of claims the lawyers at KBA can bring on behalf of people and businesses adversely affected by drones.