Flying drones and your duty of care

19 Dec 2016 | Comment

The use of drones is no longer limited to the military in hostile territories. Drones are now commonly sold in retailers or you can purchase a reasonably sized drone online for approximately £80 which has the capability of reaching considerable heights.

Although the laws are few and fast evolving, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) does regulate the use of drones. If you purchase a 20 kg drone, it must not be flown within 50 metres of a person, it must not be flown within 150 metres of a congested area and the drone must always be flown in sight. The details of all the rules/regulations can be found on the CAA website.

What are the risks?

When operating such equipment (as with cars, motorcycles etc) there is always scope for something to go wrong and somebody to become injured. It was reported earlier this month by the BBC that a drone the size of a football flew within 20 metres of a passenger jet in south London. This had the potential to cause a catastrophe which could have resulted in death, serious injury and damage to property. This isn’t the first report that a drone has flown close to a passenger jet either. If a drone were to collide with a passenger jet/helicopter, the devastation that a jet/helicopter crashing could cause was recently shown in Casualty’s 30th-anniversary episode.

The rise of drone purchases isn’t a surprise and I’m sure it will be one of the most popular gifts purchased this Christmas. It is important for the public to bear in mind that they have a duty to others when flying drones. If you are flying a drone this Christmas (or any other time of the year) you have a duty to take reasonable care to avoid causing injury to others or damage to property.

If, when flying the drone, you have caused an injury to an individual there is potential for a public liability claim to be brought against you which could cover such things as compensation and loss of earnings as result of being off work.


According to the ‘Drone Guide UK’ your home insurance may cover you for a claim if things were to go wrong. However, be sure to check the wording of your policy and if in doubt, contact your insurer and ask them to clarify. This is especially the case given that this is a new and emerging area of law.

Given the uncertainty as to whether home insurance covers individuals and the rise in reported incidents of ‘near misses’ involving drones (drone reports to UK police soar 352% in a year according to the Independent in August 2016), could we be heading towards compulsory insurance for those who fly drones?

So if you are flying a drone this Christmas be careful!


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