Personal Injury Lawyers are Exposed to New Market, Thanks to New Drone Law

Screen Shot 2015-10-08 at 7.15.04 PMWritten by: Michaella Radich

The Freedom From Unwarranted Surveillance Act may help Florida personal injury lawyers to establish themselves in a new field. The bill, passed last session and signed by Gov. Scott in May, makes using unmanned aircrafts to take photos or record videos of people on private property illegal in the state of Florida.

Matt Grosack of DLA Piper Global Law Firm in Miami, calls drones “probably the most disruptive piece of technology to the expectation of privacy that we’ve seen in many, many years.” He expects the cost of actual damages in drone cases to be relatively low. It will also be difficult to file a suit, because there must be a permanent record of the surveillance and proof of intent to commit surveillance, or collect information on someone, Grosack explains. Even if the damage costs are low, a defendant might be ordered to pay the attorneys’ fees on top of damages, if the necessary proof is there, though.

The future for drones and drone laws is uncertain for several reasons. First, the technology of drones is changing at a very rapid pace. Advancements in the field, therefore, are unpredictable. The way drones laws are enforced depends on the language with which they are written. Some argue that the Florida law, based on its language, is a civil law, meaning any officer can respond to a call and file a report. The drone industry – incubators, manufacturers, and suppliers – is growing and spreading to new places, including South Florida. The industry is valued at $82 billion and could potentially create 100,000 new American jobs over the next ten years. Many states, like Florida, have been working hard to pass legislation before the drone industry grows even further.

There is no uniform approach to how drones should be used legally, but laws and precedents involving trespassing, privacy, air traffic, and interference with government agencies, will be useful to law makers as more laws and regulations on drones are proposed in the near future. At this time, no bills changing Florida’s 2015 drone law have been filed for the 2016 legislature.


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