In 2022, approximately 1.74 million drones were registered in the United States, according to the US Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration(FAA). The FAA requires registration of all drones except those weighing 0.55 pounds or less (under 250 grams) and used exclusively for recreational purposes. However, whether smaller or larger, commercial or recreational, all drones have components that can be hazardous, especially when not operated correctly and according to the law. Emergency Rooms and urgent care clinics frequently treat injuries caused by drone accidents. The patient may be the operator themselves or an unfortunate bystander who came in contact with someone’s drone or happened to be in the line of contact when the drone malfunctioned or crashed.
Drone accidents occur for many reasons, but some of the most common reasons for drone accidents are user or operator error, mechanical failure, external factors, collisions, human interference, negligence, and others. Importantly, those injured in drone accidents due to the negligence of another person or party may be entitled to compensation in New Jersey.
How Are Drones Regulated by NJ Law?
New Jersey has many regulations to prevent accidents and support the safe use of drones and the safety of everyone. Furthermore, each county in the state has been evolving and forming rulings concerning drones and their use; for example, Essex county adopted a park ordinance in 2020 and has since prohibited using drones on any municipal, county-owned, or managed property. If an individual wishes to operate a drone in New Jersey, reviewing existing federal and state regulations and educating themselves on safe drone operation practices is wise. Sometimes, obtaining permission or a permit may be necessary before their drone can go airborne legally.
Knowing New Jersey’s drone laws is essential to flying a drone safely and lawfully. Drones can be used recreationally or commercially in New Jersey if they comply with FAA regulations and local authorities’ flight controls. The state has enacted the New Jersey Drone Law Provision, which sets forth rules and regulations for the operation of drones in the state.
Conditions of The NJ Drone Law
- Drones must be flown in a manner that is safe and does not interfere with manned aircraft.
- In all cases, drones must remain within the operator’s visual field unless the operator has received a waiver from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
- Drones may only be flown over people if they are directly participating in the drone operation or are located under a covered structure.
- Drones may only be flown over stadiums or sports venues during events or within a five-mile radius of an airport with prior approval from air traffic control.
- Operators of drones weighing more than 0.55 pounds must register their drones with the FAA.
Potential Factors Resulting in Drone Mishaps and Injuries
There are many ways that drone accidents can happen, as described above, including operator error, technical malfunctions, and interference from other objects or systems. Some of the most typical causes of drone accidents and some examples of resulting injuries include, but are not limited to:
Loss of control
This can occur due to a variety of factors, such as a malfunctioning controller, interference from other electronic devices, or simply not paying attention to the drone’s flight path.
Operating under the influence of alcohol or drugs
When using a drone, the individual must be clear-headed and not under the influence of alcohol or other intoxicating substances. When operating a drone while intoxicated, negligent piloting results in needless and often serious injury.
Drones can collide with other objects or people, causing damage or injury.
A drone can fly away if it loses connection with the controller or if it is programmed to fly beyond the operator’s line of sight.
Drones rely on battery power, and a loss of power can induce an immediate loss of control and result in the drone falling from the sky.
Drones are susceptible to interference from other electronic devices, which can cause them to malfunction and crash.
Drones can collide with objects, including buildings, trees, and other drones. Such crashes can result in injuries to people on the ground or in the air.
Drones can also be affected by human interference, such as vandalism or sabotage.
The spinning blades of a drone’s propellers can cause injuries if they come into contact with a person.
Note: Drone operators must follow all safety guidelines and regulations to minimize the risk of accidents and injuries.
Types of Drone-Related Injuries
Drones have become increasingly popular over the last several years, but their use can come with great hazards and risks. In some cases, drone accidents can lead to severe injuries. Below are various types of injuries that can occur from drone accidents, a description of each, and potential complications or impacts the damage may have on daily life.
Some common drone-accident-related injuries include:
- Cuts and lacerations: Drones have sharp blades that can cause scratches and lacerations if they come into contact with skin. These injuries can range from minor to severe, depending on the depth of the cut and location on the body.
- Bruises and contusions: Drones can also cause bruises and contusions if they hit the body with enough force. These injuries can be painful and may take several days or weeks to heal.
- Fractures: If a drone hits a person with significant force, it can cause fractures or broken bones. A fracture can be a significantly extreme injury that requires medical attention and possibly surgery, generally, at minimum, casting and other treatments such as physical therapy.
- Head injuries: If a drone strikes a person in the head, it can cause a concussion or other head injury. These injuries can be severe because they can affect brain function and may result in long-term complications.
- Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI): An individual can suffer a traumatic brain injury (TBI) due to being involved in a drone accident. A TBI is a type of injury that occurs when there is sudden physical trauma to the brain, such as a blow to the head. The impact can be blunt or puncturing such as from a drone in flight, one that is falling, or the propeller of a drone. A TBI’s severity can vary, ranging from a mild concussion to a severe, life-threatening injury. It is essential for anyone who has suffered a head injury to seek medical attention as soon as possible to assess the severity of the damage and to receive appropriate treatment.
- Concussion: When a person is struck in the head, they may suffer a concussion. Concussions vary in degree and length and the type of treatment and monitoring they require.
- Spinal Cord Injury (SCI): An individual can sustain a Spinal Cord Injury due to a drone accident. The spinal cord is a packaging of nerves running from the brain down through the back and serves a critical role in the body’s myriad of functions. At the most basic level, the spinal cord is the essential transmitter of information from the brain to the remainder of the body, sending messages and signals that assist with maintaining life. A damaged spinal cord may result in a loss of sensation and movement in the affected area of the body. Various factors, including trauma, disease, or other conditions, can cause SCI. In the case of a drone accident, a spinal cord injury could occur if the drone hits the person in a way that causes trauma to the spine or if the person falls and lands in a way that damages the spinal cord. There can be wide variations in severity based on the location and extent of the cord damage. Some SCIs may result in total paralysis, while others only have partial paralysis or other symptoms. The impact of SCIs on daily life will depend on the exact type and severity of the injury. Treatment for a spinal cord injury may include medications, surgery, physical therapy, and other interventions.
The severity of any injury and its effects on daily life will depend on the specific type of injury and its location on the body, as well as factors such as what type of a daily routine the individual has, their job or career, and other responsibilities they may have. In some cases, injuries from drone accidents may require ongoing medical treatment and physical therapy and may result in temporary or permanent disability.
In the Event of a Drone Accident in NJ, Who is Responsible?
In New Jersey, the person or entity operating the drone would typically be liable for any injuries or damages caused by a drone accident. Liability would include any injuries sustained by individuals hit by the drone or colliding with it while it is in flight. Injuries or damages caused by negligent or reckless drone operation may be the responsibility of the operator.
Other parties could be held liable for a drone accident injury, depending on the case’s specific circumstances. For example, if the drone was being operated for the benefit of a commercial enterprise, the business’s owner or operator could be held liable for any injuries or damages. The drone manufacturer could be found liable if, for example, a defect in the design or construction of the drone caused the accident.
If you have been injured in a drone accident and want to pursue a claim for damages, it is vital to consult a skilled personal injury attorney who can help you understand your legal rights and options.
Kinds of Compensation Available for Drone Accident Victims
If you have been injured in a New Jersey drone accident and believe that someone else is responsible for your injuries, you may be entitled to compensation for your damages. The types of compensation that may be available to you will depend on the specific circumstances of your case but may include the following:
1. Medical expenses: You may be able to recover compensation for the cost of any medical treatment or rehabilitation that you required as a result of your injuries, including hospital stays, doctor visits, medication, and physical therapy.
2. Lost wages: If you were unable to work due to your injuries, you may be able to recover compensation for the wages or salary you lost during your recovery period.
3. Future Earnings: Depending on the degree of the injury, if it impacts your ability to work, if you are left disabled, and other instances, you may be eligible for this form of compensation, which needs precise evaluation and calculation.
4. Pain and suffering: As a result of an injury, a person may suffer physical pain and emotional distress. Your drone accident injury claim may include compensation for elements of pain and suffering. The amount of pain and suffering compensation that you may be entitled to receive will depend on the specific circumstances of your case, including the severity of your injuries, the extent of your physical and emotional suffering, and the length of your recovery period. An individual’s right to pain and suffering compensation may vary depending on the facts of their case, and there is no set formula for calculating it. All forms of compensation will be considered when consulting and discussing your case with an attorney.
5. Property damage: If the drone accident caused damage to your property, you may recover compensation for repairing or replacing the damaged property.
It is vital to note that the amount of compensation that you may be entitled to will depend on the specific circumstances of your case. Compensation may also be affected by additional factors such as the severity of your injuries, the extent of your damages, and the degree to which the other party was at fault for the accident.
Injured in a Drone-Related Accident in New Jersey? Connect with the Personal Injury Lawyers at CR for Help Pursuing Compensation
If you have been injured as the result of a drone accident in New Jersey, our personal injury attorneys at Cohen & Riechelson can help you in a number of ways. First, our team can help you identify who is liable for your injuries, which could be the drone’s operator, the drone’s owner, or the drone’s manufacturer, depending on your case’s specific circumstances. Our lawyers are also prepared to help you gather and preserve evidence relevant to your case, such as witness statements, video and photos from the scene, your injuries, medical documentation, and other relevant records.
With over 50 years of experience handling injury lawsuits on behalf of clients in New Jersey, we have a tremendous advantage during negotiations with the other party or insurance company to settle your claim. If, after deliberation, settling is not an avenue you wish to pursue, we can help you take a lawsuit to trial and seek compensation for your injuries. Should the case goes to trial, you will have a dedicated NJ Supreme Court Certified Civil Trial Attorney who will represent you in court and help you present your case to the court and jury, utilizing all of our background and trial experience to get you the maximum damages award. Throughout the process, our trusted drone accident lawyers can provide you with legal advice and guidance and help you understand your legal rights and options in Trenton, Hamilton, West Windsor, Pennington, Lawrence, Ewing, Princeton, Titusville, and throughout Mercer, Burlington, and Middlesex County.
It is critical to contact an experienced personal injury attorney following a drone accident injury in New Jersey and schedule a free and confidential consultation. Call the NJ offices of CR at 609-528-2596 or fill out our online form today.