Drone Age: Legal Considerations

Do you own a drone? Do you know someone who does? Are you thinking of getting one? Most of us have at least seen one by now. In recent years drones have really grown in popularity. Many companies are beginning to use them for all kinds of purposes, including things such as videography, surveillance, and small deliveries. The growth has been so rapid, that as of recently, the Government of Canada has had to take action.

New government restrictions are being put into place to keep people, animals and property safe. Under the new restrictions, recreational drone pilots are prohibited from flying their drones higher than 90 metres, within 75 metres of buildings, animals or people, or within nine kilometres of an airport. Night flights are also prohibited under the new restriction, which could carry a fine of up to $3,000. Recreational users are also required to include their name, address and phone number with their drones.

Outside of the recent federal restrictions imposed on drone pilots, there are also several other legal implications that drone pilots must be wary of. For starters, there is the prospect that you could lose control of your drone due to human error, weather conditions, technical malfunction, or a whole host of other issues, and should you cause injury to persons or property, you will be held responsible. Should you cause injury, one question that arises is whether you will have insurance coverage. Although your drone may have caused an accident it’s not necessarily a given that you will have insurance coverage in place. For starters, you may wish to check whether your homeowner’s policy covers you in such a circumstances or whether drone operation is specifically excluded. You would not want to find out the hard way, so we recommend that if you are going to operate a drone, you find out whether your are covered before you get drone piloting.

Another obvious implication for drone operation is privacy and trespassing violations. For a while now, there have been evident fears of drones being an easy medium for advertently or inadvertently snooping. There have also been reports of drones crossing borders, or entering prisons, and carrying illegal contraband. The recent regulation changes certainly address some of these concerns, reinforcing civil laws that find it illegal to fly over private property without permissions. And while it probably goes without saying, it is highly likely that your insurance will not cover you if you are charged or sued over an invasion of privacy issue or a trespassing issue.

The law is constantly playing catch up with technology, and what is happening with drones is no different. It is important to keep on top of the ongoing legal changes if you are drone operator and, in our opinion, equally important to ensure you have sufficient insurance in place in the event an accident ever did happen

Christopher Dawson

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