RC Helicopter Injury Lawyers

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 What Is an "RC Helicopter Injury"?

RC helicopters are helicopters that fly under remote control. Their flight is remotely controlled by a radio device. Thus, they are called “remote-controlled helicopters” or “radio-controlled helicopters,” which is the source of the “RC” designation. If they are the toy models, they can range from small, plastic battery-powered toys to larger, gas-powered models that can be quite powerful.

RC helicopters are capable of taking off and landing vertically, hovering, flying forwards and backwards and laterally. However, successfully making the RC helicopter perform such maneuvers and operate safely takes training and experience. In the hands of an inexperienced operator, an RC helicopter does pose risks.

They range in price from $60 for a toy model to $1700 for a model that is fully assembled and equipped. They can weigh more than six pounds and have a frame made of carbon fiber and metal. The rotor blades can be as much as 700 mm long each. This puts its full spinning diameter at almost 1.5 meters, or 5 feet. On larger, more sophisticated models, the blades can spin at approximately 1,650 revolutions per minute when hovering. The helicopters can reach speeds of between 45 and 100 miles per hour, depending on how it is equipped and operated.

Whatever their size, RC helicopters can present various dangers to users and to observers in an area in which these toys or models are being flown. However, larger models present more significant dangers than the smaller, toy models. The Internet is rife with videos of RC helicopter crashes.

As with standard, full-sized helicopters, the rotors of toy and model RC helicopters operate at high speeds. In September of 2013, a young person in New York who was reportedly experienced in flying larger RC helicopters suffered fatal injury when the blades of his RC helicopter struck his head. So, this shows that the larger models are capable of killing a person.

Miniature helicopters are RC helicopters that range in weight from a few grams to one hundred grams, which is less than half a pound. Most miniature RC helicopters are toys aimed at hobbyists and enthusiasts. In addition, companies make them for possible military and security applications. Miniature helicopters are popular for use as demonstration models for the latest miniaturization technologies.

Flying RC helicopters is a popular hobby in the U.S. and internationally. There is a large model RC helicopter organization, the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA), which claims a membership of more than 195,000 people representing every walk of life in the U.S. It reportedly sponsors more than 2,500 AMA model airplane clubs throughout the U.S. The national organization offers its chartered local clubs sanctioning for official contests, insurance, and assistance in finding and maintaining flying sites.

There are also flying competitions. RC helicopters are classified by size and the type of power that fuels them and they complete maneuvers that the “pilots,” or operators must master. Judges grade each maneuver. Among the maneuvers are hovering-type maneuvers, forward flight, including a loop and stall turns and then aerobatic maneuvers, including a “power-off autorotation landing”. The helicopters also have a scale competition.

Common RC helicopter injuries include:

  • Injuries caused by the rotating propellers. These propellers can rotate at high speeds and do not have always have a protective barrier around them;
  • Injuries can be caused by the helicopter falling onto a person from heights;
  • The helicopter colliding with a person can lead to head or eye injuries;
  • Accidents caused by explosions or fires are possible. Fires and explosions can happen with both gas-powered or battery-powered models. Batteries can explode when overheated;
  • Accidents involving other RC helicopters or vehicles, for example, a collision between a car and an RC helicopter;
  • Various other types of injuries.

Who Can Be Liable for an RC Helicopter Injury?

Depending on the facts surrounding the circumstances, various parties can be liable for injuries caused by the use of an RC helicopter. Operators or pilots can be liable, as can manufacturers and distributors. The sponsors of competitions or expositions can be liable if they organize their events in a negligent manner that leads to accidents. If an RC helicopter is a toy model, a person who supervises a child’s play with the toy might conceivably be liable for negligence.

For instance, the operator of an RC helicopter can be held liable if their negligence or recklessness in handling the device causes injury to another person. An example of this would be a situation in which the operator flies the helicopter dangerously close to another person.

Also, some types of RC helicopters require special permits to operate due to their size, and they can often only be operated in certain designated areas. The operator could also be held liable if these kinds of regulations are disregarded and the operator flies the RC helicopter outside of designated areas.

In other cases, the manufacturer of an RC helicopter might be held liable for injuries, if it can be shown that a defect in the product caused the injuries. An example of this is where there is a defect in the way that the product was designed, manufactured, or marketed. Defects could, for example, cause the propeller to come off during flight. In such cases, the manufacturer and distributors of the RC helicopter that causes injury might be liable under a strict product liability theory.

What Are the Legal Remedies for RC Helicopter Injuries?

If a person sustains serious injuries caused by an RC helicopter, the person may seek compensation in a lawsuit. Such legal claims may result in an award of money damages. The person or company that is liable would have to pay the award to the person who was injured.

The damages award would cover losses such as the costs of medical treatment of the injuries, costs associated with repairing property damage, and other losses such as lost wages from missing work. Future losses from continuing medical care or a loss of earning capacity could also be recovered.

If a person suffers a fatal injury, their close family members could file a lawsuit for wrongful death.

Injury claims resulting from product defects may also bring about other measures, such as a product recall or a class action lawsuit if a number of people are all injured in a similar manner.

If a person has a complaint about a toy RC helicopter, they should report it to the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC). This can be done at the Commission’s website. If a sufficient number of complaints are received, the CPSC can require a manufacturer or distributor of a product to recall it.

In July of 2013, Toys-R-Us recalled remote-controlled 3 channel helicopters, because the rechargeable battery inside it was susceptible to overheating, which posed a fire hazard and the risk of burns. Reportedly no one was ever injured, but the risk was there. Consumers in the U.S. and Canada were asked to return the toy RC helicopters to Toys-R-Us and were offered a full refund or credit for any returned RC toy helicopter.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with an RC Helicopter Injury Lawsuit?

Accidents involving RC helicopters can lead to serious injuries. Accidents can result in significant property damage in addition to injuries in some cases. If you have been injured or had your property damaged by an RC helicopter, you should consult a personal injury lawyer in your area.

Your attorney can analyze the facts of your situation and direct you to the appropriate action, including a lawsuit if that appears justified. Your attorney can guide you through the process and provide you with representation at all times.

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