Flying High With Drones

CLM’s Product Liability Committee taught attendees how to make the most of drones in a recent webinar

By Eric Gilkey

CLM’s Product Liability Committee’s recent webinar, “It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s a Drone?” taught attendees how to make the most of this powerful technology. Below are some key takeaways.

12:00:00 p.m.


Russell Simmons, PE, CFEI, CED Technologies

Carly Celmer, Clyde & Co

Timothy Lalaian, CRU Adjusters

12:02:24 p.m.

Carly Celmer

“Technology is changing so quickly, and it’s so important for [us] to have a handle on what’s new, what’s trending, and how people are using technologies like drones in their cases. [Because] drones are such a hot topic…we thought we would discuss what kinds of drones are available and how people are applying them to their cases in order to defend.”

12:03:33 p.m.

Russell Simmons

“The goals for today’s webinar are to understand the capabilities of an expert drone program, look at their previous uses on projects, take a look at their limitations and what drones can and cannot do for us, then take a look at future use cases.”

12:06:28 p.m.

Russell Simmons

“Some of the types of cases that we’ve used drones in so far include fire and explosion claims…vehicular accidents, because the drone can fly the same path as the vehicle took, which is good for animations…roof inspections…bridge superstructures…large areas of loss locations, like fires or even something like a railroad wreck…product liability claims…and even worksite accidents.”

12:12:02 p.m.

Russell Simmons

“As for limitations, if you’re flying drones professionally and charging a fee, you will need a license, but this process has softened in the last couple of years. You also can’t fly at night; can’t fly over people, like at like a sporting event; you can’t go over 100 mph; and you can’t go higher than 400 feet.”

12:14:55 p.m.

Tim Lalaian

“Russell, one of the reasons someone in the property adjusting world would use a drone would be to access structures that are otherwise impassable or unsafe, such as in flood or fire. Is it possible to use drones on the interior of a structure to help document a loss?”

12:15:36 p.m.

Russell Simmons

“I’ve used drones inside of a boiler that was otherwise inaccessible, but one of the challenges of working inside a facility is that the GPS goes away. One of the things that allows the drone to do what it does is referencing everything back to its real position using GPS.”

12:21:59 p.m.

Carly Celmer

“Russell, can drones be used to capture measurements for use in accident reconstruction or biomechanical engineering?”

12:22:11 p.m.

Russell Simmons

“Yes, it can, but the beauty of the drone is that you don’t have to know what you’re looking for. You might find skid marks and think it was a braking issue. But by running the drone down the road a mile and back, you might find that there was an object in the road that caused the wreck instead.”


Eric Gilkey is executive editor of CLM Magazine, a publication of the Claims and Litigation Management (CLM) Alliance. He may be reached at eric.gilkey@TheCLM.org.

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