Law Office of Henry B. LaTorraca Civil Trial Attorney

Legal ramifications of drone use on commercial property

California is on the verge of a veritable revolution in drone usage. A variety of high-tech companies are expanding their use of the hovering automatons for an endless array of interesting causes. Whether they are delivering medication, inspecting construction, fighting fires, recording traffic patterns or observing wildlife, drones have the potential to change America. For the owners of commercial property, this brings both opportunities and challenges.

There is no clear legal consensus as of yet for the ownership and maintenance of the airspace around commercial real estate. There is some question as to whether or not a property owner can forbid a drone from crossing the air above their property, or at precisely what height they would be able to forbid drone passage. It is also not known precisely what manner of interdiction a property owner can use to prevent a drone from entering their property. There are some who assert the right of the property owner to literally shoot an intruding drone down.

The expansion of drone usage also brings intriguing questions of premises liability. If the tenant of a commercial building were to use drone delivery services, then it is unclear precisely what responsibilities the property owner has to keep the airspace around their building free from obstruction or what liability they would have if an accident were to befall the drone while it was flying above their property.

Legal questions such as this are often worked out through exhaustive courtroom debate, reference to precedent and the testimony of expert witnesses. Anyone attempting to deal with the legal ramifications of drone usage on commercial property might wish to consult with an attorney.

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