Source By: Theglobeandmail

The next wave of hobby drones will be wrapped in boxes underneath Christmas trees before they fill the skies. If industry sales projections come true, the holiday season will put tens of thousands of relative novices at the controls of small unmanned aerial vehicles in densely populated cities and suburbs. All that amateurish swooping over houses and cars, spooking pets and dodging humans, will invariably lead to cracked windows and more than a few bloody injuries.

First come the toy drones; then the liability claims start flying.

“Almost no one is thinking about insurance coverage when they’re opening the box,” says Jeff Antonelli, a Chicago attorney who specializes in U.S. federal regulations for unmanned aerial systems. The liability protection in homeowners or renters insurance policies will sometimes cover damage or injury from a drone crashing into a neighbour’s house, vehicle or child. Yet this coverage isn’t universal, Mr. Antonelli says, and some policies specifically carry an aviation exclusion that encompasses recreational drones, which the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration classifies as small aircraft.

But the lawsuits probably won’t have to wait for corporate drone disasters. Mr. Hanson and other attorneys predict that invasion of privacy claims against commercial drone operators – not personal-injury torts – will likely spur most legal work.

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