Safety Issues and Concerns
AMA Annual Insurance Report:
From the Safety Coordinator
A review of the latest AMA Annual Insurance Report reveals some interesting information. Around 35 liability claims annually are reported to AMA. These are both bodily injury (injury) and property damage (damage) claims. Injury claims typically involve fellow AMA members actively involved in modeling rather than spectators or bystanders. Damage claims are usually minor damage to vehicles in parking areas caused by an errant aircraft. Of the 35 claims reported annually, approximately 20 are property damage and 15 are bodily injury claims. Since 2001, AMA and its insurance company have paid out approximately $5,000,000, mostly to settle injury claims. Settlements of serious cases many times exceed $500,000 each, and in some cases that is after the homeowner's insurer pays their policy limit. The most common cause of injury is "lost control of aircraft"; usually without a confirmed cause (vague allegations of frequency interference are common).
Keep in mind that the AMA liability program protects AMA members in two very important ways. Protecting AMA members or clubs and site owners who are subject of lawsuits brought forth against them by injured parties. Many times amounts are far in excess of any available homeowners insurance. Without adequate insurance, those members and clubs (including club officers in some instances) may be personally liable to injured persons and that MAY expose personal assets to court judgment that could affect the financial future of members or clubs. Approximately 70-80% of the amounts paid for these claims are paid to AMA members or their respective families for their injuries. Without AMA insurance the compensation to injured members may be inadequate or perhaps nonexistent.
Let's not become complacent and think an accident can't happen to us or at our field just because we haven't had one. We've had several "close call" incidents where we "lost control of the aircraft." Build your aircraft with safety in mind; do all the safety checks the instructions call out; perform a center of gravity (CG) check and lateral stability check; check all servos for proper travel, entering, and freedom of movement; conduct a transmitter range check at the flying field; and fly Safe!
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