As of April 12, 2018, a woman who was injured by a drone in 2015 has settled a lawsuit with a USC fraternity chapter and an event-planning company. Alina Pituch filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles in 2016 against the two entities, alleging negligence and premises liability. Although the terms of the lawsuit were not disclosed, this lawsuit joins a handful of other personal injury claims involving drones. This new technology, while bringing many exciting opportunities, also carries liabilities.

The Incident

According to the lawsuit, Pituch arrived at Pi Kappa Phi’s “Glow Party,” held in the backyard of the fraternity’s house, around 11 p.m. on Octover 3, 2015. The suit also claims that the fraternity hired Perfect Event Inc. to plan and organize the details of the party, including providing a drone operator to photograph the event.

Pituch alleges that about 15 to 20 minutes after her arrival at the party, a “heavy object” fell on [her] head, causing her to stumble forward into a friend, who caught [her] before she fell down.” As a result of the head injury, she began to bleed “vigorously” and was taken to a hospital by ambulance.

The court papers identify the object as a drone that caused injuries to the back of her head, her forehead, and her left eye. Additionally, Pituch claims she suffered dizziness and disorientation from the force of the blow. In her lawsuit, Pituch describes the permanent scarring she sustained on her head and forehead, as well as the frequent headaches she experiences as a result of these injuries.

Drones, Negligence, and Premises Liability

Both Perfect Event Inc. and the Delta Rho Chapter of Pi Kappa Phi denied any wrongdoing. While the terms of the settlement, reached in mid-April of this year, have not been divulged, it is important to consider the added risks drones pose in our modern lives.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, flying an unmanned aircraft of less than 55 pounds directly over people, or flying after twilight, are both prohibited, although some of these rules are subject to waiver. In recent years, two other injuries and lawsuits involving drones have garnered attention.

In 2015, a drone injured two people, one of whom was knocked unconscious, at a Pride Parade in Seattle. As a result, the drone pilot was sentenced to 30 days in jail for reckless endangerment. Then, in 2016, two guests at a wedding in New Hampshire sued the groom for bringing in a drone that crashed into them.

Drones are relatively new technology, and it will be fascinating to see how they continue to shape our daily lives. Of course, along with all of the benefits they bring, drones can also cause damage. If you or a loved one has suffered a personal injury resulting from someone else’s negligence or from premises liability, Hales & Associates, A Professional Law Corporation is here to help you. Contact our Murrieta-based firm today at (951) 489-3320 to schedule your free consultation.