Exploring the Risks and Benefits of Operating Drones and How Part 107 Certification can Help Mitigate Liability Exposures.
Consumer-level drones have become increasingly popular in recent years, with more and more people using them for recreational and commercial purposes. However, the use of drones also carries potential liability exposures that users need to be aware of.
One liability exposure is property damage caused by a drone. Drones can crash into buildings, vehicles, and other property, causing damage that the user may be held liable for. Additionally, drones can cause damage to the environment, such as disturbing wildlife or disrupting the natural habitat.
Another liability exposure is personal injury caused by a drone. Drones can injure people if they crash into them or if the drone’s propellers come into contact with a person. Drones can also invade people’s privacy if they are used to take pictures or videos in places where individuals have a reasonable expectation of privacy.
To mitigate these liability exposures, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has established regulations for the use of drones in the United States. Part 107 of the FAA’s regulations provides a framework for commercial drone operators, requiring them to obtain a remote pilot certificate and follow certain operational rules.
To become certified under Part 107, individuals must pass an aeronautical knowledge test, which covers topics such as airspace, weather, and FAA regulations. Additionally, drone operators must follow operational rules such as flying below 400 feet, flying during daylight hours, and maintaining visual contact with the drone at all times.
Being certified under Part 107 can provide drone operators with some protection from liability, as it demonstrates a level of competency and knowledge of FAA regulations. However, it is important to note that certification does not eliminate liability entirely, and operators can still be held liable if they do not follow the regulations or if they cause damage or injury.
This liability should be taken seriously. A standard homeowners or commercial general liability policy typically does not provide coverage for negligence caused by the operation of a drone aircraft. This is because most insurance policies have specific exclusions for aircraft-related incidents, and drones are often considered aircraft by insurance companies. Therefore, if a drone operator causes property damage or personal injury while flying a drone, their insurance policy may not cover the costs of any resulting claims or lawsuits. As a result, drone operators should consider purchasing separate insurance policies specifically designed for drones to protect themselves against any potential liability.
The use of consumer-level drones carries potential liability exposures, including property damage, personal injury, and invasion of privacy. To mitigate these risks, the FAA has established regulations for the use of drones in the United States, including certification under Part 107 for commercial drone operators. While certification can provide some protection from liability, it is important for drone operators to follow the regulations and take appropriate safety precautions to minimize the risk of damage or injury.