Skip to Content

Groom Sued After Drone Crash

drone flying at sunset

Photographs immortalize the most important moments in our lives. When it comes to planning a wedding, most brides and grooms take great care in hiring the perfect wedding photographer. However, recent advancements in technology have introduced a new member to the wedding party: the drone. Drone photography can capture breathtaking aerial images that are worthy of a wedding album cover. Unfortunately, using one of these high-flying devices is not without its dangers.

The Incident

On the morning of August 8, 2018, groom Barry Billcliff put on his tux, charged his drone, and prepared for the happiest day of his life. After the wedding, he allegedly flew the drone to take pictures of the reception at Searles Castle in Windham. Something went wrong, and the drone fell from the sky and hit two of the guests. At present, it’s unknown if this incident occurred to do technical difficulties or a disastrous case of user-error.

The Lawsuit

The two guests, Kneena Ellis and Kelly Eaten, claim they suffered concussions and permanent physical and emotional injuries as a result of the accident. On December 1, 2018, the plaintiffs filed claims against Billcliff and the company that runs events at Searles Castle. Billcliff’s lawyers are countering the suit by arguing that their client wasn’t operating the drone when it crashed. However, the vice president at Searles Castle contradicted their statement and added that drones aren’t even allowed at Searles Castle.

Drones & Liability Policies

This isn’t the first (and likely not the last) time a wedding drone has been the source of a lawsuit. In April 2016, a Hollycal Production, Inc. employee accidentally flew a drone into a wedding guest’s eye, permanently blinding her. At first, the company’s insurer, Philadelphia Indemnity Insurance Company, defended Hollycal Production, Inc. under a reservation of rights, but later filed a declaratory relief action to determine if its liability policy actually covered drones. The Central District of California determined that there was no coverage because the policy specifically excludes any bodily injury arising out of the use of an aircraft. Judge Percy Anderson ordered Hollycal Production, Inc. to reimburse Philadelphia Indemnity Insurance Company the defense costs paid to date. This case result sets an interesting precedent for future drone-related lawsuits. It could also be a problem for many businesses as their commercial general policies are likely to have similar exclusions.

Injured by a Drone? Contact a Trial-Tested Personal Injury Attorney

The Los Angeles personal injury lawyers at Biren Law Group have a comprehensive understanding of the fluctuating policies and regulations associated with drone-related accidents and injuries. If you’ve been injured in an incident involving a drone, contact our law firm today. During your first appointment, we can discuss your case and explore your legal options. With our help, you can pursue compensatory damages that safeguard your standard of living.

Contact Biren Law Group at (310) 896-4345 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.