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Suing to Stop Spying by Drones in Nevada

The privacy implications of drone-mounted cameras and microphones are only just beginning to be examined by lawmakers and civil society. The power of modern high definition cameras allows drones to see and record things that intrude into the private sphere. When a drone is deliberately used to “spy” on someone, the resulting footage can be used to harm the victim through harassment, embarrassment, or worse. People who have been harmed by malicious spying by drones may have recourse to Nevada’s laws regarding photography generally, as well as laws specifically limiting how drones may be used.

Photography and privacy in Nevada

Just because a camera is mounted on a drone does not alter the basic fact that the operator of the drone is acting as a photographer and is therefore subject to the restrictions that apply to photography. Here are some that may apply to “spying” cases:
  • Trespassers are not entitled to take photographs of private property.

Making recordings while unlawfully intruding on private property is not permitted. “Trespass” can include flying over property with a drone (see below). Trespass can also include things like lifting a camera over a fence to take photos of what lies beyond it, even though the camera itself is not over the private property. In practice it can be difficult to answer the question of where public space ends and private space begins. A fence around a property creates an unambiguous privacy barrier, but the case can be less clear if a property is not fenced, or the photographed activity is being conducted in a way that seems to disregard privacy concerns. In short, the question of privacy expectations requires a case-by-case analysis.
  • The right of publicity restricts use of photos and videos of others.

Nevada law restricts the commercial use of photos and videos of other people without their written permission. This can protect victims of drone spying from some kinds of use of the resulting video, for example if a video is incorporated into a television program (other than a news broadcast or other exempted use).

Drones are subject to place restrictions

To lawfully fly drones over a certain size in Nevada the drone must be registered with the Federal Aviation Administration and must comply with state laws and regulations with respect to altitude and other matters. For example, a drone that is flown lower than 250 feet over private property is trespassing (and therefore its photographs or video are unlawful), but only if the owner of the property has notified the operator to stop flyovers or posted signs prohibiting drone use. This is a frustratingly high bar for someone who has suffered spying by drone, but it does give a quick method for starting the process of addressing unlawful drone use. Ultimately someone who knows about drone spying should consider seeking an injunction to force the operator to stop. An invasion of privacy can lead to serious consequences for the victim and courts are unlikely to look kindly upon unscrupulous use of drones. For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has helped clients in the Las Vegas area seek compensation for personal injuries. If you are wondering how the law can help you address problems with unlawful use of drones in your area, call us today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476, or ask us to call you through our contact page.

Potential Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

As a population, residents in a nursing home are especially at risk for abuse. The families and loved ones of nursing home residents should understand the signs of abuse so they can take steps to stop it. In some cases, it may be appropriate to pursue legal action to recover compensation for the suffering the abuser has caused. Abuse in a nursing home can take many forms. Some forms are more visible than others, and repeat abusers will often try to mask their wrongdoing in various ways, making detection that much harder. Regardless of the form abuse takes, one of the tell-tale signs that abuse may be occurring is an institution’s unwillingness to provide straightforward answers to questions about the wellbeing of a resident. Another red flag is if the nursing home does not allow a resident to be alone with family members or other visitors. In practical terms the forms of abuse can be grouped into several categories:
  • Physical abuse involves an intentional infliction of pain or injury upon a person’s body. Included within the notion of physical abuse are behaviors that affect the person’s wellbeing, such as withholding food (for example, as a form of punishment), or deliberately withholding prescribed medications or administering incorrect medications. Physical abuse may be immediately visible, in the form of bruises, cuts, or broken bones. If a nursing home is unlawfully restraining a resident the resident may have bruises or other injuries on wrists and ankles.
  • Emotional abuse can be more difficult to detect, especially in a person who has difficulty communicating, as is often the case with advanced dementia patients. Emotional abuse includes bullying behavior (yelling, insulting, terrorizing) as well as purposeful neglect and isolation. Signs of emotional abuse often come from context, where the victim behaves in strange ways, such as by being unusually withdrawn or uncommunicative, or by adopting repetitive tics.
  • Neglect is a distinct category of abuse that applies in situations where a caregiver, such as a nursing home, has expressly agreed to assume responsibility for elements of a person’s wellbeing and has failed to perform those services. If a nursing home is failing to provide contracted-for services, such as food, laundry services, cleaning, or bathing, it may be committing acts of neglect. Unlike physical or emotional abuse, the nature of neglect often hinges on the specific language of the contract governing the resident’s stay in a nursing home.
Nevada’s elder abuse law, NRS 41.1395, applies to abuse of people who are 60 years of age or older, whether they live in a residential community or not. In some situations plaintiffs under the law can recover double damages and may also qualify for separate reimbursement of legal fees. Every personal injury case requires careful consideration of facts, and elder abuse is no different. What can set elder abuse apart, especially with an institution as the potential defendant, is the added layer (or layers) of resistance and lack of cooperation one can expect to encounter, especially if a nursing home is committing unlawful acts that could threaten its ability to attract new clients or put its licensure at risk. For over 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has helped clients in the Las Vegas area recover compensation in matters of personal injury. If your loved one has suffered abuse in a nursing home and you would like to discuss your legal options, call us today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or send us a request on our contact page.