Legal Implications of Drone Use
Many children (and children at heart) woke up on Christmas morning to find a drone under the tree. But did you know that you may have to register your drone with the federal government?
Effective December 21, 2015, any drone weighing 0.55 pounds or more must be registered with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). There is a $5 fee but that fee will be refunded if you register before January 20, 2016.
Federal and State Regulations on Drones
There are additional federal requirements if your aircraft is used for commercial purposes, is greater than 55 pounds or is intended for use outside of the United States.
Your state may have additional drone regulations. For example, Louisiana has passed a criminal statute relating to the use of drones to conduct surveillance of 1) petroleum and alumina refineries, 2) chemical and rubber manufacturing facilities, 3) nuclear power electric generation facilities. Louisiana also has civil statues relating to use of drones in agricultural commercial operations.
In addition to the FAA registration, you may want to confirm insurance coverage and/or consider purchasing additional coverage. As demonstrated by the Enrique Iglesias drone accident and subsequent surgery, drones can cause injuries and property damage. Although a typical homeowner policy may cover damage to another’s property by your drone, any damage to your own property is unlikely to be covered. For example, your policy may cover damage done to your neighbor’s car by a drone, but not your own. As each policy is different, be sure to carefully review your policy and, if possible, confirm in writing with your homeowner’s carrier that your drone is covered and to what extent.
While drones may be an exciting new technology available to the general public, drone users must be conscious and cautious of the legal implications that using them may produce.
Allen & Gooch is providing this legal update for informational purposes only. This article should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion as to any specific facts or circumstances. You should consult your own attorney concerning your particular situation and any specific legal questions you may have.