Flying Witnesses: How Drones are Transforming Personal Injury Litigation

Law Book

Drones are used more frequently in personal injury cases, driven in large part by their ability to provide comprehensive, efficient, and objective evidence, ultimately facilitating fair and informed legal proceedings. Drones are, no doubt, transforming personal injury litigation in tangible ways.

In the past, personal injury lawyers had to rely on traditional methods of collecting evidence, such as photographs, videos, and eyewitness testimony. However, drones can provide a much more comprehensive and accurate view of the accident scene. Drones can be used to take aerial photographs and videos of the scene, which can be used to show the exact location of the accident, the vehicles involved, and the injuries sustained. Drones are also used to fly over difficult-to-reach areas, such as rooftops and cliffs, which can be important in cases where the accident occurred in a dangerous location.

How Drones are Shaping the Future of Personal Injury Case Investigations

Roads Can be Complex to Navigate
Roads Can be Complex to Navigate and Inattentive Drivers Can Cause Accidents

Accident Scene Documentation

Drones are used to document accident scenes in personal injury cases. By capturing high-resolution aerial photographs and videos, drones provide a comprehensive visual representation of the scene, including factors such as road conditions, traffic patterns, and environmental factors. This evidence can be crucial in determining liability and assessing the extent of injuries sustained.

Surveillance and Reconstruction

Drones equipped with advanced imaging technology, such as thermal cameras or LiDAR sensors, are used to conduct surveillance and accident reconstruction in personal injury cases. These drones can capture detailed data on the scene, including 3D models, measurements, and point clouds, which help in analyzing the sequence of events and identifying any contributing factors to the accident.

Commercial Drone on a Pelican Case
Commercial Drones are Capable of Sophisticated Photogrammetry and Data Collection.

Property Inspections

Drones are employed to conduct aerial inspections of properties in personal injury cases involving premises liability. By flying over the premises, drones can identify hazardous conditions such as inadequate lighting, structural defects, or unsafe premises that may have contributed to the injury. The aerial perspective offered by drones can provide valuable evidence to support a plaintiff’s claim.

PI Cases That Used Drones for Accident Documentation

Blount v. United Airlines

This case involved a passenger who was injured when she was hit by a piece of luggage that fell from an overhead bin on a United Airlines flight. The passenger sued United Airlines, and the case went to trial. During the trial, the passenger’s attorney presented drone footage of the inside of the plane, which showed that the overhead bins were not properly secured. The jury found in favor of the passenger and awarded her damages.

Hannon v. City of San Diego

This case involved a pedestrian who was injured when she was struck by a car while crossing the street. The pedestrian sued the City of San Diego, alleging that the city was negligent in maintaining the crosswalk. The city argued that the pedestrian was not crossing the street in a safe manner. During the trial, the pedestrian’s attorney presented drone footage of the crosswalk, which showed that the city had not properly marked the crosswalk. The jury found in favor of the pedestrian and awarded her damages.

Zhu v.

This case involved a delivery driver who was injured when he was struck by a car while delivering a package. The delivery driver sued, alleging that Amazon was negligent in failing to properly supervise the driver. Amazon argued that the driver was not following company policy at the time of the accident. During the trial, Amazon presented drone footage of the delivery driver’s route, which showed that the driver was not following company policy. The jury found in favor of Amazon and dismissed the driver’s lawsuit.


These are just a few examples of how drone photography has been used to assist in personal injury cases. Hiring a licensed Drone Service Provider allows law firms to capture valuable evidence that can help to prove a case or defend against a claim. If you have been injured in an accident, you should speak to a personal injury attorney about whether or not using a drone to collect evidence is right for your case.

These three cases highlight the use of drone photography as a valuable tool in personal injury trials, providing visual evidence from unique vantage points that can strengthen the arguments of both plaintiffs and defendants.

If you have been injured in an accident, you should speak to a personal injury lawyer about whether or not using a drone to collect evidence is right for your case. If you are an attorney and are interested in learning more about how drones are transforming personal injury litigation, feel free to contact Aerial Decisions for a free drone services case evaluation.

Sources for the cases mentioned in this post:

  • Blount v. United Airlines, No. 15-cv-05190-LHK (N.D. Cal. filed Mar. 16, 2015).
  • Hannon v. City of San Diego, No. 37-2016-00017015-CU-BT-CTL (Super. Ct. San Diego County filed Jan. 25, 2016).
  • Zhu v., No. 37-2017-00032342-CU-BT-CTL (Super. Ct. San Diego County filed Mar. 15, 2017).

From The Editor:

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Jim Gibson