Whether you are using drones or permitting the use of drones on your property, here are the legal considerations you need to know first.

  • Is my use legal?
    • Federal Law governs operation of the drones and pilot requirements.
    • State Laws, to the extent they do not conflict with Federal Law, must also be adhered to.
    • Currently 41 states have state laws governing drones.
    • There has been state drone legislation every year since 2013.
    • State laws may govern privacy issue.
  • Does the drone operator understand the federal AND state legal limits of the drone usage?
  • Does the drone operator understand the non-drone specific laws that might impact the drone usage such as invasion of privacy/improper video recording type laws?
  • Is the operator/pilot in command properly certified by the FAA?
  • Will there be one or more Visual Observers / Spotters?
  • Is there a plan for clearing the overflight area of people and keeping it clear during the drone flight?
  • Have the proper pre-flight checks been done?
    • Drone condition.
    • Weather.
    • Location of people on the ground.
    • Other ground hazards.
  • Has everyone involved been informed about:
    • Operating conditions.
    • Emergency Procedures.
    • Contingency Procedures.
    • Roles and Responsibilities.
    • Potential Hazards.
  • Has proper insurance been obtained?
    • Some polities exclude coverage for unmanned aircraft.
    • Some policies partially include coverage.
    • Some provide coverage.
    • If you are using a drone, or permitting the use of a drone by others, you can not simply assume there is coverage under existing policies.
    • Raise the issue with your broker/agent and review the policies of those using drones on your property.
  • Drone use should be logged.
    • Operators and their qualifications.
    • Visual observers and their locations.
    • The flight plan.
    • The pre-flight check.
    • Notifying everyone at the project site about the drone usage and the areas to avoid.
    • Obtain written permission to use a drone on someone else’s property.
    • Log the permission given to use the drone on your property (limits, dates, duration, etc.).
  • 10 days to report certain accidents involving serious injury to any person or loss of consciousness or damage to any property over $500.
  • Various states rules of evidence may preclude you from deleting drone video footage especially if it contains evidence related to a potential legal claim when there is a substantial chance of litigation (i.e. video of the drone colliding with a person or object that causes serious personal injury or property damage).