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Ask Our Lawyer
by Rod Taylor - ABATE Legal Services
November 2021

    I-70 CRASH CAUSED BY THE STATE COST A LIFE OF A FATHER TO BE - RESOLVED.
    TIME FOR STATES TO HAVE THE SAME RESPONSIBILITIES AS ITS CITIZENS

    It was a riding kind of day - the kind of day that all motorcyclists yearn for. But it was not to be for a young motorcyclist riding on I-70. He was traveling near the Ohio - Indiana line when he hit the road craters from hell. Those defects had been there for years and half-assed patched by the state for years. Sadly, the state didn't get around to doing the patch in time for this rider. The continuous set of craters sent his Honda Rebel into gyrations directing him into a guard rail. I hope he never knew. I realize that to err is human, but the list of incidents at this location became more than that. A callous disregard by those in charge. But states are usually immune from a punitive allegation. Many states also hide behind a monetary limit on the damages, injuries and death they cause. Such was in this case. Even more reprehensible, these states always claim "contributory negligence" which, if successful, operates as a complete bar for claims of a family so injured. And the state tried that here. This needs to stop.

    The surviving family was confronted with a governmental entity responsible for killing a son, husband and now father. And that entity alleged that the motorcyclist was contributorily negligent, in short, the cause of his own death. And they even claimed that the money owed to his survivors was limited by law. In other words they did not have to fully pay for the losses caused.

    This needs to change. Our country operates on the rule that if you carelessly break something of another you should pay for it. It works as we normally don't want to hurt another and if we have to pay for our screw ups we are more careful. Governmental entities should follow the same rules and not get by with special rules or not having to pay the full amount owed. Otherwise those states will dilly dally around with the lives of the traveling public and continue to half-ass repair road defects that should be repaired properly to save lives.

    MOTORCYCLE NATION

    The year 1909 was a time when there were no cars, generally speaking. Just trains, horses, bicycles and most significantly motorcycles. For a biker that meant almost nothing to watch out for. It was August of that year and a guy by the name of Fisher ( famous as founder of the Indianapolis 500, Miami Beach and Presto-Lite) was holding the first race at the Indy 500; it was a motorcycle race. William Harley and Walter Davidson were there along with their chief line foreman, and everybody that was anybody in motorcycling.

    How do I know this? While at the Indy Motorcycle Expo, I took in the Old Timers area. There, the old flat trackers, hill climbers, and Daytona veterans were in force. Some bring artifacts from the glory days, like Kenny Staughton. For the last several decades the equivalent of the painting of the signing of the Declaration of Independence for motorcyclists has hung above Kenny's living room couch. It is one of those seven foot long - one foot high brown-toned photographs of old. The photograph looks North on Meridian Street from the base of the Monument Circle. (The site of the Motorcycles on Meridian that happens each summer) Positioned on about a third of the Circle are 250 motorcycles. I can identify two cylinder Indians and one cylinder Harleys. In those days Harley was not into speed, but endurance. Indian was into speed. So two races were to happen. One was the speed race at the Indy 500 and the other was an endurance race starting in Cleveland, down to Columbus, over to Dayton, Richmond, just below Sky Castle Airport, Rushville and finally Indy. Bill Harley and Walter Davidson won the endurance race and came together with the Indy racers for the photograph. I can identify William Harley and Walter Davidson and the Harley Davidson factory foreman - I think. Or at least that is my story and I'm sticking to it. I thought about having a contest and naming it "Looking for Walter" after the kid game.

    What is striking about the photo is there are almost no cars in the photo, maybe a lonely handmade Buick, but that is about it. Around the sea of motorcycles are horse and carriages and a bicycle or two. In 1909 we were truly a motorcycle nation. Not till 1912 when Henry Ford implemented the assembly line in Detroit City did that change. Bob Schulteti of Harley South-Side believes that Motorcycle Nation existed into the late teens before there were enough cars to make a difference.

    While admiring Kenny's wonderful photograph, I wondered aloud where the motorcyclists got gas, since there were no cars- no gas stations. Bob Schulteti knew the answer - drug stores. Imagine - a land before gas stations and no place to get a Big Gulp.

    Kenny allowed us to get copies of his living room treasure. I gave one of the copies to Andre Lacy, a fellow motorcyclist, friend, and namesake of a business school and former Board Member of the Indianapolis 500. When the folks there discovered they did not have that photo - Andre's copy was repositioned. Next time you are in my office, take the time to gaze at a photograph that captured a time when America was a "motorcycle nation" - with not one gas station.

    MEDICAL BILL HELL

    Q. I was in a motorcycle accident recently, and the medical bills are starting to pile up. The other guy's insurance company won't pay the bills, even though the accident was clearly his fault. I believe it is unfair that my insurance company should have to pay. What should I do about all of these bills? ABATE OF OHIO MEMBER.

    A. There are several things you can do to protect your credit rating while you convalesce and try to maintain your household. Of course, you could let the ABATE Legal Services team deal with the insurance company for you! But if you are on your own, notify your motorcycle insurance carrier of the accident, and ask if you have medical payments coverage. If you have this coverage, the insurance company will pay your medical provider if you are injured in an accident, regardless of who was at fault - up to the limits of your coverage. Also, you should notify your health insurance carrier, so that they can pay the balance of the bills for your care.

    Many people are reluctant to have their own medical/health insurance cover the bills, especially when it was the other person's fault. Don't let that stop you! You paid insurance premiums so your bills would be timely paid. Believe me, your insurance company will try to get their money back from the adverse or from your settlement.

    Most insurance companies have policy language requiring reimbursement for medical bills paid for you but caused by someone else's fault. If you are involved in an accident, your insurance carrier will send you a letter asserting a "right of subrogation." That is lawyer talk for the right to be repaid. Basically, the insurance company will pay your bills now in exchange for the right to be paid from the proceeds of a settlement or judgment against the guy who caused the accident. Almost certainly, your contract with the insurance company obligates you to reimburse them for the money they paid from the proceeds of your settlement.

    This can work to your advantage, and here's how. Most settlements and judgments are based on the amount of the medical bills the accident victim incurred. And insurance companies understand that the amount of the medical bills is a reflection, however imperfect, of the severity of the injury and factor settlements accordingly.

    You should know that insurance companies have previously negotiated rates with health care providers that permit them to pay less than the billed amount for services rendered. While the bill for the hospital may be $10,000, your insurance company may have only paid $6,000. In that case, all you are obligated to pay back is the amount actually paid to the medical provider. We always try to negotiate that bill down. Every dollar saved there is a dollar in your pocket! ABATE Legal Services can help as we have had great success in negotiating with insurance carriers to minimize or eliminate subrogation repayments, so that $6,000 subrogation obligation described above could be significantly reduced depending on the facts of your case. It is a lot of what ABATE Legal does for you. Don't forget, you can always call the ABATE Legal Services team if you have any questions about your legal rights.

    MINIMUM INSURANCE - IS NOT INSURANCE! IT IS A RIPOFF FOR ALL PERSONS SERIOUSLY INJURED!

    I remember the first time I heard a motorist, who had just run over a biker that cost a leg say, "I have insurance" and said he was sorry. That driver was in his 90's. The insurance covering those he ran over was 10k. The helicopter bill alone was 45k. You do not want to know the amount of the hospital bill and future lost wages or the pain and suffering caused to a fellow motorcyclist and his family by this crash. The State of Florida called it insurance (the state minimum at the time). That is not insurance. That was a joke to my client and his family. While I am on the subject, limit your riding there at night. I am sure that a lot of those passing you, coming toward you or turning into your lane can't see, hear or even think good enough to be driving, but that is the way it is in that state. At least you have a chance riding there during daylight hours.

    Roulette is what you should call the next time you ride to Mardi Gras or Bike week and travel through Mississippi, where it is estimated almost a third of the vehicles in that state are uninsured. Meaning that you are on your own if you get hit by one of those. It boils down to - how lucky do you feel? And we have discovered that of those who are insured in Mississippi, almost 50% of those have the state minimum of 25k. Some states have the nerve to call 25k insurance. By any definition that is not insurance. With a left turn in front of you, a helicopter ride to the hospital, surgery for injury repair, lost wages, pain - suffering, and temporary impairment, 25k from the adverse driver is just enough to piss you off. And to make matters worse, all health insurers will have a lien on those insurance proceeds. So if your hospital bills exceed 25k guess who doesn't get most of the money in a serious crash - you. Here is my rule in a crash case. You only want to know how much money you are going to put in your pocket - not everyone else's. Like the hospitals and the lawyers etc.

    For any state to claim that 25k (some states have even less) meets a minimum liability requirement based on potential damage caused is terribly misleading. That state minimum goes back decades. Shouldn't it be updated to at least keep up with increasing medical costs, wages etc.? An air-vac ride to the hospital can cost over 50k. Since the state and insurance companies are not looking out for you, you have to look out for you by buying adequate uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. What is adequate? As much as you can buy is my answer. The cost to upgrade is cheap, cheap and wonderfully cheap. I maintain that you should not ride in Mississippi, Florida and many other states where the numbers of uninsured/underinsured are breathtaking, unless you have adequate uninsured/ underinsured coverage. Those states should have a large billboard that says "Welcome to Florida - If you have adequate uninsured-underinsured insurance coverage.

    There should be a law that disallows anyone to call insurance "insurance" unless the insurance amount is sufficient to pay for the harm caused. After all, in most civilized countries, the rule is "if you break it - you should pay for it." And if you can not pay for the harm to the biker/motorist that you just ran over - you should not be allowed to drive.

    Let's take a typical state insurance requirement where the state minimum is $25k per individual, $50k for all claimants, and $10k for property damage. The average premium for this policy is $48.20 per month, but without uninsured/underinsured coverage. If you add that coverage, it costs only a little less than 4 bucks more or $51.93 per month. On average it costs only about 10% more of your monthly payment to carry uninsured/underinsured coverage for the lower limits. But that is not enough. Get as much as they will sell you.

    Generally, the cost to upgrade the state minimum insurance to a coverage of $100K- $300K, is less than $5.00 more per month. And the cost to go from state minimum insurance to upgrade to the usual highest coverage of $500k was less than $12.00 more per month than the basic liability policy - which is roughly 25% of your monthly payment. And that is with uninsured/underinsured coverage. By any definition - a good deal, especially when the little old lady (or man) that can't see or hear - gets you.

    CONGRATS ARE IN ORDER TO ABATE LAWYER, HILARY BARNES

    Lastly I would like to express congratulations to our very own Hilary Barnes on her inclusion as a lawyer to the Super Lawyers "Rising Stars". You keep us all honest around here with your straightforwardness and genuineness, you make me proud to be your Father.

Ride Safe.
Rod Taylor
ABATE Legal Services
http://www.abatelegal.com

    All questions from ABATE members are answered confidentially unless otherwise authorized and only after the matter is concluded, except when authorization for publication anonymously or otherwise is given for pending matters. Remember, injured ABATE members pay only 28 ½% of total recovery motorcycle crash cases, and expenses as approved by the client. Elsewhere, you may pay 33 ⅓%, 40% or even 50% of your recovery. ABATE members are not charged for recovery of damage to their motorcycle, and have access to a 24-hour toll-free telephone number. Call us at 1-(800)-25-RIDER. Questions? Submit them to: RodTaylor@abatelegal.com. © 2021


Ask Our Lawyer
by Rod Taylor - ABATE Legal Services
October 2021

    NO OR INADEQUATE UNINSURED/UNDERINSURED INSURANCE ?
DEAD SKUNK IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD, STINKIN' TO HIGH HEAVEN

    He shoulda looked left and he shoulda looked right
    He didn't see the station wagon car
    The skunk got squashed and there you are
    You got your Dead skunk in the middle of the road
    Stinkin' to high heaven

    From Dead Skunk in the middle of the Road by Loudon Wainwright III

    Shoulda, coulda, woulda, sounds like me when I preach about crash avoidance and getting enough uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. The latter is so inexpensive that it is not in the concern category. The rule is to get as much as they offer. Shame on you if you don't. It is the cheapest coverage you will ever buy. And when you discover that most drivers in this country are either uninsured or have the minimum (usually never enough), you need to run - not walk to your agent and buy it. So there you are: you got your dead skunk in the middle of the road stinkin' to high heaven - IF YOU DON'T.

   ABATE OFFICER DOING THE RIGHT THING

    Hello, Rod. This is Erick, the county Rep for Spencer/Perry Counties, attached are my dec sheets for my motorcycle insurance that you asked for. If you have any questions feel free to call me. My independent agent was not able to find any better coverage than I already have even with bundling home & auto. Have a good one & Enjoy The Ride when out & about. Erick.

    Moral of the story: Be. Like. Erick. Pull out your insurance dec sheets, review, and if possible, increase your coverage.

   I AM MY OWN GRANDPA

    Q. My husband and I have wonderful grandchildren which we are raising because our daughter is not blessed with good mothering skills at this stage in her life. Now that my husband has cancer, we are concerned for our grandchildren's future. What can we do as we have little saved for them ?     ABATE MEMBERS.

    A. I have received this question many times from concerned grandparents. Usually, a life threatening disease causes them to question "what will happen to our grandkids if we are not around to raise them?" Many grandparents have only Social Security for themselves and certainly have not been in a position to save significant assets for the benefit of their grandchildren. Some may be fortunate to have life insurance. As we all know, Social Security goes to the benefit of the worker, the worker's spouse, and their unemancipated children.

    The big question becomes what do you do to help safeguard the future lives of grandchildren when the only asset of the grandparents is a home, meager savings, and the Social Security benefits they have earned and are receiving. It was then that it came to me when I thought of that old country song "I'm My Own Grandpa." What if the grandparents adopted their own grandkids ? Would those grandchildren get Social Security benefits if something happened to the grandparents ? The answer to that question is yes, if the grandparents legally adopt their own grandchildren. That solution works and ensures that the grandchildren will have a good and decent life through their college years. One possible hitch - consent of the parents is usually required.

    TIRED OF AN UNCIVIL CONGRESS?     SOLUTION - BRING BACK DUELING?

    There was a time when politicians, congressmen, and the like were mostly civil to each other. A theory: Dueling was the cause. If you run the possibility of getting shot for your foul mouth and ill ways, it may just make you a little nicer. Bring it back for Washington, D.C.? Who knows? It might even work with lawyers.

    In one famous duel, James Shields challenged Abe Lincoln. As the challenged, Abe had the right to choose weapons. Since Shields was diminutive with short limbs, lanky Lincoln chose "long swords." Apparently, Lincoln's reach was such that the duel would have been ridiculous, with Lincoln pretty much running Shields through before Shields could get in range. The story goes that the unfairness of the duel was so comical Shields and Lincoln patched things up and remained friends for life. Interestingly, Shields served as a U.S. Senator in 3 different states, which is still a record. And he did not do any more dueling.

    CRAZY IS AS CRAZY DOES - LOANING YOUR MOTORCYCLE

    Q. My buddy wants to borrow my bike for a ride to Florida. He lost his license a couple of years ago and says he just got it back. Although he's been riding for years, he's never gotten his motorcycle endorsement and has had several accidents. He told me his insurance would cover the bike, but I'm kind of nervous about letting him on my bike.

    A. And you should be. As we all know, most riders are extremely safety conscious, taking care to make sure that their bikes are in tip-top shape and that their skills remain sharp and focused. Unfortunately, there are those who don't take those responsibilities seriously. While we are generally not our brother's keeper, if we allow someone who shouldn't be riding on our bike, his problem may become our problem.

    Generally, a vehicle owner is not responsible for the actions of a person who is operating the vehicle, but that doesn't mean it won't be your insurance that ends up covering the damage. You would have to review your policy and his policy to see what coverage applies if he's in an accident where he is at fault. And it may be different depending on whether it is personal injury or property damage.

    Beware that most states recognize negligent entrustment, which happens when an owner allows someone to operate the owner's vehicle when that person is not qualified to do so. Allowing your buddy to take your bike may make you responsible for any accident he causes if it turns out that he was unqualified and that we should have known that he was unqualified.

   MOTORCYCLE LOANING ADVICE

    Mr. Taylor, I always read your column first thing when I receive my monthly ABATE Newsletter. You do an excellent job of relating the law to the layman.

    I feel you left out an important point in the May column. In your "Crazy is as Crazy Does" article, you failed to point out that, in most states, insurance follows the vehicle - not the driver. So when the buddy says his insurance would cover the bike, that is not true. You must have an insurable interest in something in order to insure it. I do not see where the buddy borrowing the bike has any insurable interest in the borrowed bike. You cannot insure something you do not own. So, in this case, the lender of the bike's insurance would be responsible for any damage caused by the borrower. If the borrower is responsible for an at fault claim, then the lender of the bike's premium will likely be surcharged, even though he did nothing wrong, other than loan his bike to the wrong person.

    I am licensed and sell insurance in Illinois and Indiana. I have a young man insured who borrowed a motorcycle from a friend. While riding, he was pulled over. That was when my customer discovered the motorcycle was uninsured. He was ticketed for driving without insurance, his license was suspended and he had to file for an SR-22 in order to get his license back. For the next 3 years his insurance was much more expensive, all because he borrowed a friend's motorcycle.

    Just thought this was an important point that needs to be made. I felt your response might lead the uninformed to believe their insurance MIGHT transfer to a borrowed vehicle, but in almost every case, it will not.
    Respectfully, Dan Schonert ABATE Member - Mount Carmel, Illinois

    Dan. Thank you for your comments. I will publish your letter in the next issue as it addresses some very good points. We can learn from your expertise.     Ride safe. Rod

   TWO WAYS MOTORCYCLISTS GET SCREWED BY INSURANCE COMPANIES

    There are some very important differences between your auto insurance coverage and your motorcycle insurance coverage. Here are at least two.

  • 1. Let's say you want to test ride and buy a motorcycle that your neighbor has for sale and that neighbor has no motorcycle insurance on the test ride motorcycle. You remember your agent telling you that you have automatic insurance coverage for a newly acquired vehicle and you believe that would apply to a "newly acquired" motorcycle. Unless you have a current motorcycle policy in force, you are uninsured if you test ride that motorcycle - even though you have auto insurance coverage. But no problem if you were test driving and buying an auto. The problem only surfaces with motorcycles. I say not fair.
  • 2. While on a test ride of your neighbor's motorcycle, you bring a friend. You are in the show off mode, lose control, and injure your passenger. She asks if you have medical coverage. Do you have coverage? Usually, but only under your motorcycle policy if you have one and only if you have elected passenger coverage. Notice that the extra step of electing passenger coverage is not required in auto policies. That same coverage for auto passengers is automatic. How is that fair?

        A real motorcyclist's insurance company would eliminate the discriminatory provisions discussed here, which adversely impact motorcyclists only. Those companies should conform their motorcycle policies to what they provide in their automobile policies. The first insurance company to take that measure will have my vote. That change is simple, costing very little and providing needed protection to the 18 year old etc. who doesn't spend his off hours checking the fine print. Step to the plate insurance companies. Be the " Good Neighbor" and mean it when you claim "You are in good hands".

        NOTE: IN ALL CASES YOUR INSURANCE POLICY SHOULD BE REVIEWED AS THERE ARE COVERAGE DIFFERENCES FROM POLICY TO POLICY. OUR COMMENTS ARE AN OVERVIEW OF THE ISSUES AND DO NOT CONSTITUTE LEGAL ADVICE.

    Ride Safe.
    Rod Taylor
    ABATE Legal Services
    http://www.abatelegal.com

        All questions from ABATE members are answered confidentially unless otherwise authorized and only after the matter is concluded, except when authorization for publication anonymously or otherwise is given for pending matters. Remember, injured ABATE members pay only 28 ½% of total recovery motorcycle crash cases, and expenses as approved by the client. Elsewhere, you may pay 33 ⅓%, 40% or even 50% of your recovery. In those cases, ABATE members are not charged for recovery of damage to their motorcycle, and have access to a 24-hour toll-free telephone number. Call us at 1-(800)-25-RIDER. Questions? Submit them to: RodTaylor@abatelegal.com. © 2021.


  • Ask Our Lawyer
    by Rod Taylor - ABATE Legal Services
    September 2021

       DEER STRIKES AND JAY JACKSON SAYS

        The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports deer-vehicle collisions have been on the rise. But the good news is that deer crashes have leveled off in recent years, with an all-time high of 1.5 million deer-vehicle collisions in the U.S. causing $1 billion in damage in 2018. Still, 200 motorists are killed each year and another 10,000 are injured. The average driver (includes motorcyclists) has a 1 in 116 chance of hitting a deer with their vehicle/motorcycle each year. To put that in perspective you have a one in 15,000 chance of being hit by lightning and a one in 160 chance of being audited by the IRS. Your odds of being involved in a deer accident greatly vary based on what state you're in, though. In West Virginia, 1 in 38 motorists hit a deer. In Hawaii, it's 1 in 6,379. Drivers in Indiana have a 1 in 103 chance of being involved in a vehicle crash with a deer.

        Deer are very active from October through December. Accordingly, there are more Indiana vehicle crashes involving deer during this time of year. Deer are active at dawn and dusk. Deer are social animals, if they could they would show up for our parties. My point is if you see one, bet your Harley the herd is not far behind, so slow down and look.

        Jay Jackson, Motorcycle Chief Instructor, Emeritus says this about deer hazards. Disclosure - Some years back, Jay hit a deer on the way to a Miracle Ride meeting the day of the Miracle Ride. He blames his near death experience on a series of bad judgments. His deer was following a creek bed and jumped out in front of him as he was about to cross the creek bridge.

        Here are Jay's thoughts on deer strike avoidance - and he knows what he is talking about - now. And specifically what he did wrong. "My motorcycle vs deer experience occurred on Indiana State Road 25 near Wingate and I was running 85mph. A road that I travel frequently, am quite familiar with, and maybe a little "too comfortable" on (translation = complacent). As I was the ONLY vehicle on the road at 4:10am, I was riding faster than I should have been. Especially since it was pitch black, 34 degrees and had just stopped raining. To make matters worse, I was thinking about our responsibilities at the Miracle Ride, rather than concentrating on riding. ALL of these were my fault.

        Inasmuch as this very pregnant doe truly did "appear out of nowhere" (running the creek-bed until jumping up on the road when she arrived at the culvert under the bridge), I'm not sure I could have avoided the crash by merely going slower. However, I certainly could have mitigated the severity of the crash. I'm tellin' ya, they ain't got no ride like that at Disney World".

       DEER AVOIDANCE ACCORDING TO JAY JACKSON

        Never out run your vision distance. At night never run past your headlights. Never out run your sight distance during the day. On the interstate you have more sight distance. But beware of the deer following a creek bed, that suddenly jumps up around the bridge you are crossing. With wooded areas slow to your braking and vision distance. One deer means there are more. If a collision is imminent, brake and collide as slow as possible. Isaac Newton said it best, "hit whatever as slow as possible". Finally I will use a Jay Jackson patented term "tuck and cover" as you hit or as I call it "tuck and cower". And don't forget that you are required to report your deer strike to the police. Whatever you do, do not approach the deer to render assistance. Chances are they are still pissed off and are potentially lethal, with or without horns. Police officers are trained with handling injured deer issues including euthanizing and disposing of the body.

       SIGNS AND FREEDOM OF SPEECH MATTERS

        Q: Our local group has an ABATE sign that we want to put up on some property we own. We've been told by the local authorities that we can't. Do they have a legal basis to prevent us from placing a sign on our property? ABATE member.

        A: Let's make sure that we're all on the same page. If the sign is one that is of a commercial nature, then the zoning officials have authority to regulate it. If we're talking about a sign with an explicitly political message there may be First Amendment protections, but check with the State Office before you launch a political dialog. From the question, it looks like we're talking about a non-political, non-commercial informational sign.

        The definitive case on this subject is from the United States Supreme Court. In City of Ladue v. Gilleo (512 US 43, 1994), the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously held that, while municipalities may regulate sign size and location for certain valid reasons. The court essentially used a balancing test and decided that the individual's right to express her opinion with a sign outweighed the City's power to prohibit signs.

        The question here, then, is whether the zoning authority has expressed any reason why the ABATE sign should not be allowed. Is there a zoning ordinance prohibiting the sign ? If so, has anyone asked for a variance? If not, you should consider that course of action. Often these proceedings are held before the zoning board. The person seeking the variance can present to the board their reasons for the request. Other interested persons can also make presentations, either in support of the variance or against. These interested persons are sometimes referred to in the zoning board minutes as remonstrators. Pursuing the available administrative options may make it easier to win a case in court. Courts are inclined to rule on a case if the plaintiff has exhausted all administrative remedies.

        CHASERS AND BITERS

        Q: Everybody in my family loves motorcycles, including our dog. Sadly she isn't with us any more because the other day she was running with a motorcycle. The bike hit her and the rider was tossed over the handlebars. Both the rider and the bike were pretty messed up. Now the rider is suing me.

        A: Call your insurance agent asap. The number of riders injured by "chasers" has increased dramatically. Most riders cannot appreciate the devastating effect of a "dog strike." According to the motorcycle safety professionals, there are usually one of two results. The first, best, result is that you are traveling fast enough and the dog is small enough that you play "Evel Knievel" and ride over the top of the dog. Hopefully, you can keep it shiny side up after contact. The other scenario is not so good for you (both are bad for the dog). Let's say you hit "Mongo the Ox-Dog." Your front wheel will instantly snap to full left or full right, and you and your bike will go head over wheels down the road. This type of incident is responsible for many serious injuries. (Long time ABATE member Gary Byers can tell you all about that). Our ABATE Motorcycle Safety course teaches us to maintain our scan and be on the alert for dogs. Dogs usually attack in a straight line. Riders wary of dogs should anticipate that line, slow down and then, when the dogs get near, gear down and speed away. Unfortunately, this only works if we have picked up the dog in our rider scan.

        Dogs are many things to many people, but to all them, dogs are a responsibility. Many localities have ordinances that require that pets be kept under control, and the common law of most states have holdings similar to this one: "The keeper of an animal has a duty to provide for the restraining and confinement of that animal, … and may become liable for damages the animal causes when the keeper is otherwise negligent in the manner of its keeping and control. In such cases, the person in control of the animal is bound to take note of the natural propensities of the type and breed of the animal in question." Vetor v. Vetor, 634 N.E.2d 513.

        If your dog is a known "chaser," then you have a duty to protect motorcyclists from the dangers of a "dog-strike." That means that you are responsible for what your dog does, especially if you are aware of the "natural propensities" of the dog, like chasing motorcycles. If you know your dog likes doing certain things, like chasing motorcycles, and somebody gets hurt because your dog was chasing, then you are likely responsible for the damages.

        Of course, your responsibilities don't end at the property line. One of the most prevalent claims arising from dog ownership involves dog bites. Most claims involving dogs will be covered by your homeowners policy. However, insurance companies report that dog-bite claims are rising. Because of that, some insurance companies are cancelling policies for homeowners whose dog has bitten someone. Some companies have even begun cancelling policies (or refusing to write new ones) for owners of particular breeds of dogs, especially Rottweilers and Pit bulls. While few insurance companies admit that they blacklist these types of dogs, those breeds cause insurers to review the file more carefully.

        Responsible dog ownership of all breeds is the key to claim prevention. Factors such as whether the dog is spayed or neutered, properly socialized, supervised, humanely trained, and safely confined, play significantly greater roles than the breed of the dog alone. The best way to make sure your home insurance doesn't get canceled because of your dog is to make sure it won't bite anyone and to take reasonable precautions to prevent the dog from getting out of the yard.

       ABATE HAS A NYC TAXI DRIVER FOR A FRIEND

        There is an ABATE sticker on at least one New York City taxi cab and I have an admission to make - I've never met an NYC taxi driver that I didn't like. Yes, I have heard all the stories, but here is what I know: they are all citizens or are on work permits legally in the U.S. as part of their taxi license requirements. Most work 60 to 80 hours a week like the one I met, J. Motobustsu [he said call me Mike] was darker that night.

        Originally from Senegal, Africa, he spoke English better than I do, along with French and German and some Senegalese dialects. You would think we would have nothing in common - not so. We have motorcycles and Johnny Cash in common. His country is full of Kawasaki 100s - the same bike a lot of motorcycle safety programs use for motorcycle safety instruction. After our two-wheel discussion, he looked at me in the mirror and asked [I must have had the look] "do you like Johnny Cash" ? I replied that JC was a patron saint of my home county. With that he pulled down his sun visor and revealed about 6 CDs of JC's greatest hits. Next scene is me, a guy from Senegal, crossing the Tri-Borough Bridge, windows rolled down and "Ring of Fire" playing as loud as he could play it.

        If you happen to be in NYC and notice a taxi with an ABATE sticker on the bumper, wave - he is one of us.

    Ride Safe.
    Rod Taylor
    ABATE Legal Services
    http://www.abatelegal.com

        All questions from ABATE members are answered confidentially unless otherwise authorized and only after the matter is concluded, except when authorization for publication anonymously or otherwise is given for pending matters. Remember, injured ABATE members pay only 28 ½% of total recovery motorcycle crash cases, and expenses as approved by the client. Elsewhere, you may pay 33 ⅓%, 40% or even 50% of your recovery. In those cases, ABATE members are not charged for recovery of damage to their motorcycle, and have access to a 24-hour toll-free telephone number. Call us at 1-(800)-25-RIDER. Questions? Submit them to: RodTaylor@abatelegal.com. © 2021.


    Ask Our Lawyer
    by Rod Taylor - ABATE Legal Services
    August 2021

    DROP MY NAME

        From Lisa Best, A.B.A.T.E. of Illinois, Inc. –

        Rod, "We wanted to say thank you.  We felt our car insurance company was taking advantage of us after an accident.  We dropped your name during a discussion with them and the problem was resolved within an hour. You must be famous!"

        Lisa, any ABATE member is free to use my name anytime.  Hope it works. Rod

        Comment from attorney Jim McCarthy regarding "Turnip Blood" Article
        Rod, in response to "Turnip Blood", you might have mentioned that the friend should look into his own UM/UIM coverage, which might kick in above the $25,000 the other driver had. Jim McCarthy, ABATE member.

        Jim,  I usually mention that and have in other articles (which are set out below as a refresher).  Just went brain dead this time.  Will mention your good comment in a future article.  Thanks for taking the time to comment.   Note from Rod – Jim McCarthy is an excellent insurance defense lawyer in Chicago and a long time rider and member of ABATE.  He does a good job keeping this lawyer keyed in. The article "Turnip Blood" Jim referred to follows as a refresher along with another that gives the full story.

    TURNIP BLOOD (follow up)

        Q.    Rod, my friend was in a bad motorcycle accident last memorial day on Highway I- 65 just outside of Indy, he was sideswiped by a woman going in the same direction, causing him to lose control of his bike, he went down at 65 mph. His hospital stay was lengthy, and bills from that amounted to around $500,000.00. The woman that caused the accident only had state minimum insurance of $25,000.

        After contacting a lawyer, my friend was told that suing the woman would be futile since you can’t get blood from a turnip. He is now stuck with the total amount of bills, with more coming from the radiologist, therapist etc. all the time. My question is, does he have an alternate way to get these bills off his back? Can he sue this woman, her insurance company? He has not signed off on any insurance.  Steve – ABATE of Indiana member. 

        A.     Steve. Sorry your friend is having these problems. Most people who carry minimal insurance limits do not have money or a way of paying for the damages they have caused that is why they chose the state minimum for insurance.. If your friend sues and gets a judgment, the debtor usually files bankruptcy, and garnishing poor people is usually pointless, unless they hit the lottery or inherit uncle Skeets farm. Your friend should investigate the assets of this lady before he signs a release and takes the limits if that is all there is.  His lawyer will know how to do that search, if not have him call us.  The internet is a good cheap tool for that investigation.  Hate to spend lots on a full blown asset investigation when it is obvious from the signs there is no money to be had other than the insurance limits, but always be on the lookout for the cheap skate farmer with lots of hidden dough.  Hate to use the "B" word – bankruptcy, but your friend should look into all of his options.  He may be able to negotiate a minimal amount of payment on the hospital bills and avoid "B".   Ride safe, Rod.

        PLAYING MOTORCYCLE ROULETTE – THE MOST IMPORTANT ARTICLE YOU WILL READ REGARDING YOUR MOTORCYCLE/AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE POLICIES. Follow up article per Jim McCarthy

        Like playing Russian Roulette? How about for $100 bucks a year? Worth it? Absolutely not. But that's what you're doing if you don't buy adequate uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage for all of your motor vehicles, but especially for your motorcycle. Studies by the Insurance Research Council indicate that up to 14 percent of drivers do not carry any sort of coverage. And I bet they make up the worst drivers. That is one in eight. And some say that figure is going higher. Even more have inadequate coverage – 25k is not insurance.  That is just enough to piss a guy off if you are lying in the hospital with a 100k hospital bill and still more bills to go. Then how do you pay your medical bills, mortgage/rent payments and living expenses? What about pain, suffering, temporary and permanent impairment? The answer is having adequate uninsured/underinsured motorist coverages that you buy. Without it, you may be out of luck – financially.  

        If you don't have significant uninsured motorist/underinsured motorist coverages (UM/UIM coverage), you are unprotected against the driver with no insurance or inadequate insurance. If you carry the legal minimum coverage, you may be in compliance with the law, but you are woefully underinsured if you are seriously injured. In other words the roulette game is on for you.  It irritates the hell out of me to hear the adverse say "I have insurance" and to discover that driver has minimal limits.  Sorry folks but that is not insurance.  Repeat – that is not insurance.

        Let's say you get injured in a crash that is the other guy's fault. You have medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering of $200,000.00. The other guy has minimal coverage of $25,000 or even $50,000.. His insurance company pays all he has, leaving you with thousands of uncompensated damages. If you do as I say, you can claim money for your additional losses from your own insurance company under your UM/UIM coverage. But you can only make a claim for your losses to the extent that your UM/UIM coverage exceeds the coverage of the other guy. Of course, the higher your uninsured/uninsured limits, the better your protection.  So just do it.  Be easy on me when you call and tell me you are in the hospital and that the adverse has no insurance, and that you did not follow my "I told you so" advice.  I will do my best to keep my thoughts to myself.

        Note from Jim McCarthy…  Thanks!   I like it (the above article)!  Don't forget to mention that he may also have med pay coverage available. Jim

        JUST IN TIME LAWYERS

        Q.  I just had a traffic accident ? Do I need a lawyer right now?

        A.   Well, that depends.   In a serious crash always call and talk to your lawyer or someone at ABATE Legal. You can get valuable starting points and the do's and don'ts. Most traffic accidents fall into four categories: property damage only, minor injury, moderate injury and major injury. These classifications aren't exact, but can be useful guidelines. (This discussion presumes that you weren't at fault and there is insurance coverage available.)

        1. Property damage only: Almost always, no lawyer needed, except when a special edition or customized bike/vehicle is involved. If the damage to the car or bike is readily evaluated, the insurance company will make a settlement based on the value of the property and the policy provisions. There may be a little room for negotiations, but generally, the estimates will dictate the settlement.  As to value disputes with the insurance company, get on EBAY and get comparative value information.  And remember that you paid retail – not wholesale as the adjuster may try to pull one over on you.  If you have trouble with that, call us.

        2. Minor injury: Usually, no lawyer is needed, so long as your injury is truly minor.  Have your doctor sign off on that one before you even think about signing a release and accepting a settlement for your injuries, and don't be in a hurry.  Take the time to completely heal.  Your doctor should be able to determine if you have fully recovered.  If the insurance company is not responsive, call us. We can help. Sometimes just mentioning my name does it.  See first article above.

        In these types of accidents, the injured person has bumps and bruises, and may be a bit sore, but has no symptoms that last more than a week, and will have lost no more than a couple of days off work. Oftentimes, the medical claims will be only for a brief visit to the hospital to be checked out after the accident, a follow up visit to the family doctor, and some pain medication or muscle relaxants. In these cases, the insurance company will make a settlement offer after you have been released from treatment by the doctor. The settlement will generally include the medical bills, lost wages, and an amount to compensate you for your pain and inconvenience. The amount of the settlement will be negotiable, and the insurance company may not make an offer unless you have made a demand first. Make sure that your communications with the claims adjuster are in writing (preferably email), and keep your demands reasonable. We can assist you with a proper evaluation.

        3. Moderate injury: A lawyer is needed. These injuries are ones that may debilitate for a period of time, or may lead to lifelong impairments of a part of the body, but are not life threatening. The lost wages may be significant, or the calculation of the pain and suffering damages may be complex. Our office will be able to negotiate with the insurance company and secure the best compensation for you. If a suit is necessary, we can represent your interests.

        4. Serious injury: You should always contact a lawyer. These cases involve life changing circumstances. There are many complex issues that will have to be evaluated and considered. Without an attorney, you will be at a serious disadvantage.

        CUSTOM BIKE BLUES

        Q:   I have a bike that I bought stock five years ago and have made a number of improvements to it since then, including a lot of chrome, custom paint, and other customized equipment. My bike was stolen last month, and the insurance company only wants to offer me book value for the bike. By my estimation, it’s worth about twice the book value of a stock bike. Is there any way I can convince the insurance company to re-evaluate their offer? ABATE MEMBER.

        A:   There may be a way to do that, but it depends on how good your records are. Most insurance contracts/policies cover customization and items added to bikes, but the insurance company has to assure itself that the customizations that you claim you added were actually added to the bike and became a part of the bike. Some insurance companies will agree to a value up front and charge a premium based on that value.

        The easiest and best way to make your claim is to document all the customizations done to the bike. This means keeping records of the modifications done to the bike, who did them, when they were done, how much they cost, and what effect those customizations had on the value of the bike.  And don't forget the photos; you can't have too many. Oftentimes you need to hire the services of an appraiser to evaluate the bike with and without the modifications.

        Let’s assume you did a custom job with three distinct components: First of all, you did some body work – you put on a new fork, new handlebars, and new wheels. You did that during the course of one season and didn’t plan on doing any more work that season. It would be a good idea once that work was completed, to take pictures of the bike, put them together with all the receipts from the work done to the bike and send copies of all that information to your insurance company, asking them to add that to your file and explaining that those modifications have been done to the bike since you purchased it. You may at that point want to get an appraised value for the bike from an appraiser. Often, appraisers will work at a motorcycle shop or dealer. You would want to get an appraisal if the value of the bike in total with the additions is more than the value of the bike plus the value of the additions. For example, you bought the bike for $5,000.00; you added $5,000.00 worth of additions, but those additions caused the bike to be worth $15,000.00 rather than the value of the bike plus the parts, which was $10,000.00. In that event, getting an appraisal would be in your best interest because you could prove to the insurance company that the bike is worth more than the sum of its parts.

        Now let’s assume it’s the next season, and you have added a lot of chrome to the bike. Again, you would want to take pictures of the bike, keep copies of the receipts, description of the work done, and submit it to the insurance company for their files so you can maintain the value of the bike. Let’s assume now that you have decided to complete the customization and get a custom paint job on it. Once you finish all the customization that you plan on doing, at that point you should get an appraisal of the value of the bike to show the insurance company what it’s worth with all the customizations. With all those documents and evidence of the customizations, you will be in a good position to prove the value of the bike to the insurance company should you need to make a claim.  And always send the insurance company copies of your latest appraisals.

        Some insurance companies offer special insurance deals for customized bikes or those  with historic or antique value. If your bike has value for collectors beyond the book value of a stock bike, check with your insurance agent about modifying your insurance policy to make sure your investment is covered.  You may be able to agree on the value of the bike if it is totaled or stolen.  So if the bike is totaled or stolen they will send you a check for the agreed amount.

    Ride Safe.
    Rod Taylor
    ABATE Legal Services
    http://www.abatelegal.com

        All questions from ABATE members are answered confidentially unless otherwise authorized and only after the matter is concluded, except when authorization for publication anonymously or otherwise is given for pending matters. Remember, injured ABATE members pay only 28 ½% of total recovery motorcycle crash cases, and expenses as approved by the client. Elsewhere, you may pay 33 ⅓%, 40% or even 50% of your recovery. In those cases, ABATE members are not charged for recovery of damage to their motorcycle, and have access to a 24-hour toll-free telephone number. Call us at 1-(800)-25-RIDER. Questions? Submit them to: RodTaylor@abatelegal.com. © 2021.


    Ask Our Lawyer
    by Rod Taylor - ABATE Legal Services
    July 2021

    POLICE OFFICER IN WILL COUNTY 0 - ABATE MEMBER 1

    NOTE FROM ROD - This article is worth repeating and thanking both the Officer and Sean McDonald for their efforts.

        Sean McDonald was having a wonderful day on his bike until he reached the intersection of Bronk and Caton Farms Roads. There he was confronted with a notorious traffic signal device from hell - well known around the Joliet area. This type of signal delay problem is the reason for a state law allowing bikers to proceed through a red signal after waiting a specified time.

        So much time elapsed for Sean, that he had time to get off his bike to adjust his saddle bags. After he complied with state law, he proceeded as the red light still glared. About the time he shifted into 3rd gear, one of Joliet's finest was in the rear view mirror and he had an inkling of the problem he was about to confront.

        The conversation went like this......
    Officer. "May I see your driver's license".
        Sean. "No, because I did nothing wrong".
    Officer. "Are you resisting".
        Sean, (humously) "Are you calling for backup".
        Sean knew she was stopping him for proceeding through the red light. And he knew that he had waited the legally required amount of time, so he was like the Christian with four aces.

        In defense of the officer, she was not a rider and had not been informed of the state law allowing a bike to proceed through a traffic signal under specified conditions. Still, Sean couldn't believe that the officer was citing him, despite his protests. And he couldn't believe she was unaware of the law allowing him to "run the red". He invited her to look up the statute on her computer. Neither could find it (more on that later), so Sean was cited for running the red light. He couldn't believe it.

        At home that evening, he was surprised to see Officer Maureen drive up to his garage and exit her squad car - smiling. Her first words were magnanimous, "Sean, I am here to let you know that I am big enough to admit I was wrong and that you were right. Give me the citation that I issued today as I have notified the department that the citation was incorrectly written". She had found the law authorizing Sean's actions.

        I salute both of these citizens; Sean for sticking up for his rights and Officer Maureen for admitting a mistake. And I predict that Maureen will be running the department one of these days, and Sean will still be sticking up for what is right - the epitome of the perfect ABATE member.

        Since this statute is so hard to find, I have provided the citation and summary of the Illinois law. Clip this article and carry it with you as you may run into other non-riding officers that are unaware of the change. Same goes for many other states that have a similar law. And follow Maureen's and Sean's lead - keep it light and smile.

        In short, this law allows motorcyclists to proceed through a red light after waiting the required time.
        (625 ILCS 5/11-306) (from Ch. 95 1/2, par. 11-306)

        3.5. In municipalities with less than 2,000,000 inhabitants, after stopping as required by paragraph 1 or 2 of this subsection, the driver of a motorcycle or bicycle, facing a steady red signal which fails to change to a green signal within a reasonable period of time not less than 120 seconds because of a signal malfunction or because the signal has failed to detect the arrival of the motorcycle or bicycle due to the vehicle's size or weight, shall have the right to proceed, after yielding the right of way to oncoming traffic facing a green signal, subject to the rules applicable after making a stop at a stop sign as required by Section 11-1204 of this Code.

        DEATH AT A FUNERAL

        Q. My friend was killed while escorting a funeral procession when a vehicle that was not part of the procession cut in between the vehicles of the procession. Unfortunately, while trying to drive through the procession, that vehicle cut into the path of my friend's escort vehicle. What is the law concerning funeral processions and rights of way?

        A. Indiana, Illinois and Ohio all have strict regulations giving funeral processions the right‑of‑way. In fact, most states have laws granting a funeral procession the‑right‑of way. Most states prohibit any vehicle from driving between the vehicles of the funeral procession, except when a police officer authorizes same, or the vehicle is an emergency vehicle with a siren. Typically, state law forbids persons who are not part of the funeral procession from joining in for the purpose of securing the right‑of‑way rights granted by statute. Other requirements include the obligation of participating vehicles in the procession to follow the preceding vehicle as closely as is practical and safe, as well as requiring that headlights and taillights be illuminated. Additionally, those vehicles may display flashing amber lights. In some states the lead and last vehicle may display the vehicle's hazard warning lights while in the procession.

        TEN THINGS TO THINK ABOUT IF YOU OR YOURS IS ARRESTED

        What do you do when the men and women in blue show up? What are your rights and what should happen? We get many inquiries from parents, neighbors, and concerned friends about their rights and what to expect. The following tips should help:

  • 1. When am I arrested?
    You are arrested (or considered under arrest) when officers deprive you of your freedom of movement in order to have you answer for an alleged crime.
  • 2. They want to question me - what are my rights?
    Just like in those TV shows, you have the right to remain silent. If you don't keep silent, anything you say can be used in court against you. If you start answering questions, you can stop at any time. You have the right to speak with your lawyer and have them with you during questioning.
  • 3. The cops won't let me go, but they haven't arrested me. Can they do that?
    An officer can temporarily detain you in order to ask for identification and to get an explanation of your presence at a particular time. You can be subject to a limited pat-down search to ensure that you have no weapons if the officer believes you are armed. You have the right not to answer the questions, but if you refuse to give any identification, the officer may have grounds to arrest you. Once this temporary detention is over, the officer must either arrest you or let you proceed on your way.
  • 4. They want to arrest me, but don't have a warrant.
    Officers can make an arrest without a warrant if they witness the offense being committed. They can also make an arrest if they receive information from a credible person that the suspect committed a felony and is about to escape.
  • 5. I got hurt when I was arrested. How much force can they use?
    An officer is entitled to use reasonable and necessary force to overcome resistance. These terms are relative, so the amount of force they can use depends on the situation.
  • 6. They want to search my house. Do I have to let them ?
    An officer may conduct a limited search of the surroundings without a warrant. If you are in your home, they may seize contraband, stolen property, or evidence of a crime in plain sight. They may also check the residence for accomplices. If you are in your car, they can search for weapons that could be used against them. They may not conduct a broader search without a warrant, unless they reasonably believe that the vehicle has evidence of crime or contraband.
  • 7. I've been arrested. Now what ?
    You are going to be taken to the detention facility, where you will be able to talk to an attorney. They should also tell you the charge being alleged. You can be required to participate in a lineup, give a handwriting sample, give a blood or urine sample, or perform certain other tasks.
  • 8. I want out !
    Bail may or may not be set for your case, depending on the seriousness of the charge. If the charge is relatively minor, you may be released on your own recognizance. You can also petition the court to reduce the amount of bail set.
  • 9. Where can I get a lawyer ?
    If you don't already know one, you can call your state or county bar association or us for a referral to criminal lawyers. If you can't afford to hire an attorney, you should tell the judge, who will ask you questions to determine if you qualify for a public defender.
  • 10. My kid just called from jail. What rights do they have?
    Children have the same substantive rights as adults. In addition, they have the right to have a parent with them when being questioned. Also, the procedures in juvenile court are generally closed to the public.

        MORE ON MOTORCYCLE INSURANCE POLICY NO CONTACT RULE AND SEASONAL INSURANCE

        COMMENT FROM A MEMBER ON A PREVIOUS COLUMN. I read your article (May Issue) on the insurance companies and loopholes that may be in motorcycle policies, specifically the "no contact" rule. I have been in the insurance industry, specializing in motorcycle insurance. One of the reasons I became involved with ABATE is because so many riders are unaware of the kind of coverage they have or need, or how much is enough, and I have always promoted that each rider should take the time to read his or her policy, or take it to a professional that knows motorcycle insurance, for a review.

        While I have moved on from selling motorcycle insurance, I make an effort to stay on top of the ever-changing policy forms from various carriers. It is true that under the uninsured/underinsured section of a policy in the State of Indiana in order to have a valid claim for property damage or bodily injury, there must be contact with an identifiable driver and/or vehicle (Some enlightened insurance companies have softened this rule). This, again, is also true for private passenger vehicle policy. As I am sure you have had your experience with a variety of insurance companies, the sub-standard carriers are more apt to look for a "way out" of a claim, which is why I do my best to educate my fellow bikers.

       (COMMENT FROM ROD - IF YOU CAN, TAKE OR HAVE A FRIEND TAKE A CELL PHONE PHOTO OF THE ESCAPING VEHICLE - THAT MAY HELP AS SOME INSURANCE COMPANIES MAY ALLOW THE CLAIM WITH NO CONTACT.)

        As far as carriers offering seasonal coverages, I will admit there are a few out there that still write policies this way. However, if a bike owner purchases this policy from an agent, it is the agent's responsibility to explain the coverage, just as I'm sure you explain to your clients what the law says and what their options are when they come to you for help. It is not the carriers fault for offering this type of coverage. There are plenty of bikers out there who put the bikes away for winter, no matter what, so they don't have to pay for an entire year. But there are many insurance companies that have now discontinued these types of policies because of the increase in riders and the change in rider's needs.

        MOTORCYCLE RUN RULES ILLINOIS, OHIO, INDIANA, MISSOURI

        Q. Is it legal in Illinois for outriders (with reflective vests) to stop traffic at intersections with or without local law enforcement's permission during a motorcycle run ?     Eastern Il. ABATE chapter.

        A. Most states have statutes similar to the ones in Illinois. Section 11-1416 of Illinois Vehicle Code (625 ILCS 5/11-1416) (from Ch. 95.5, par. 11-1416) reads:
        Sec. 11-1416. Obstructing person in highways. No person shall wilfully and unnecessarily hinder, obstruct or delay, or wilfully and unnecessarily attempt to delay, hinder or obstruct any other person lawfully driving or traveling along or upon any highway within this State or offer for barter or sale merchandise on said highway so as to interfere with the effective movement of traffic. (Source: P.A. 80-911.)

        The "outriders" could be charged with violating this statute as well as a "local ordinance". The key word in §11-1416 is "unnecessarily". Although the "outriders" might argue that it was necessary for them to obstruct traffic, I doubt if a judge would make such a finding. After all, the group could have accommodated local traffic if it had chosen to do so.

        For some intersections the law is not clear. If the ride was on a through street with no stop or yield signs or traffic signals and if traffic on intersecting streets were required to yield to traffic on the through street, then it would seem that the outriders did not obstruct traffic. If this is what happened, then they did not stop vehicles. Rather, they were protecting through traffic from illegal and dangerous interruption by vehicles that were required by law to stop. But even this situation is less than clear.

        If the ride was running red lights or stop signs, then they should be glad no one was arrested for such violations. And if there are collisions, they probably will get sued.

        The rule of thumb is that only persons with police powers are authorized to control traffic movement. These persons would include all police officers and most laws allow flagmen to control traffic at construction sites. Also, it may be necessary (note the key word discussed above) for individuals to guide traffic during emergencies when police are not available. Other than these very few exceptions, individuals who interfere with traffic are in violation of 11-1416.

        NOTE - GEORGE TINKHAM PROVIDED THE LEGAL RESEARCH ON THIS ONE - A GOOD SOURCE AS HE IS A FORMER LAWYER FOR IDOT.

    Ride Safe.
    Rod Taylor
    ABATE Legal Services
    http://www.abatelegal.com

        All questions from ABATE members are answered confidentially unless otherwise authorized and only after the matter is concluded, except when authorization for publication anonymously or otherwise is given for pending matters. Remember, injured ABATE members pay only 28 ½% of total recovery motorcycle crash cases, and expenses as approved by the client. Elsewhere, you may pay 33 ⅓%, 40% or even 50% of your recovery. In those cases, ABATE members are not charged for recovery of damage to their motorcycle, and have access to a 24-hour toll-free telephone number. Call us at 1-(800)-25-RIDER. Questions? Submit them to: RodTaylor@abatelegal.com. © 2021.


  • Ask Our Lawyer
    by Rod Taylor - ABATE Legal Services
    June 2021

    HOW TO STOP EMBEZZLEMENT - SIX RULES OF MONEY HANDLING FROM JAN

        Rod - My niece's husband is the operations pastor at a church and churches are susceptible to embezzlement also. The following are a set of procedures I suggested to him.

        A simple management tool to avoid this is to separate the following:

  • 1. Invoice review and approval,
  • 2. Check signing,
  • 3. Checkbook reconciliation.   Everyone has a checking account so the skills to do this are not rocket science. Also...
  • 4. No family/relationship ties (incl in-laws, cousins, boyfriends, girlfriends….) among the 3 people chosen,
  • 5. Require the bank to send the bank statement to someone other than the chosen 3,(this is where most embezzlements are discovered - the statement balance and the checking account balance do not match)
  • 6. Adding a vendor to the system should only be done by someone not approving payments and not signing checks. (Eliminates fictitious vendors, and payment of personal expenses.) -Jan Bednarz.

        Also "Your column is the one I read first. I was a commercial insurance agent for 40 years. You have given your readers excellent advice re: uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. Enjoy your day.

        Jan. Thank you for your wonderful insight and kind words about the column. I will make sure all money handlers in ABATE get a copy of this which I now call "Jan's Financial Bible" or Rules of Money Handling According to Jan.

        DO YOU DO MORE THAN MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENTS?

        Q. I received a court paper about an auto accident I was in and not sure what to do next.

        A. Yes we do. If you have been sued you need to send copies of the papers to your insurance company. If you have been subpoenaed as a witness you need to obey the subpoena. Call me if you need more. Ride safe. Rod

        WHEN DO MOTORCYCLE TIRES AGE OUT ?

        Don't you just hate throwing away tires that look tread perfect? I do. But here is the reason you should reconsider that saving attitude. The tire's wear surface dries out, and when it comes to those attributes those cannot be safely resurrected. Most tire manufacturers try not to sell a tire that's more than five years old. Rick Chupp of Cycle-Outfitters advises that the tires should be stored on carpet squares if the motorcycle is left in a garage with concrete floors. He advises that lye and calcium in the concrete have a deleterious effect on the tire. If the motorcycle is stored outside, then you have to inspect for ultra-violet ray damage. Per Rick, air pressure should be checked prior to each ride and a visual inspection of the sidewall and grooves between treads should be made. If you see any cracking, time to call Rick.

        TURNIP BLOOD

        Q. Rod, my friend was in a bad motorcycle accident last memorial day on Highway I- 65 just outside of Indy, he was sideswiped by a woman going in the same direction, causing him to lose control of his bike, he went down at 65 mph. His hospital stay was lengthy, and bills from that amounted to around $500,000.00. The woman that caused the accident only had state minimum insurance of $25,000.

        After contacting a lawyer, my friend was told that suing the woman would be futile since you can't get blood from a turnip. He is now stuck with the total amount of bills, with more coming from the radiologist, therapist etc. all the time. My question is, does he have an alternate way to get these bills off his back? Can he sue this woman, her insurance company? He has not signed off on any insurance. Steve - ABATE of Indiana member.

        A. Steve. Sorry your friend is having these problems. Most people who carry minimal insurance limits do not have money or a way of paying for the damages they have caused that is why they chose the state minimum for insurance.. If your friend sues and gets a judgment, the debtor usually files bankruptcy, and garnishing poor people is usually pointless, unless they hit the lottery or inherit uncle Skeets farm. Your friend should investigate the assets of this lady before he signs a release and takes the limits if that is all there is. His lawyer will know how to do that search, if not have him call us. The internet is a good cheap tool for that investigation. Hate to spend lots on a full blown asset investigation when it is obvious from the signs there is no money to be had other than the insurance limits, but always be on the lookout for the cheap skate farmer with lots of hidden dough. Hate to use the "B" word - bankruptcy, but your friend should look into all of his options. He may be able to negotiate a minimal amount of payment on the hospital bills and avoid "B".     Ride safe, Rod.

        LADY GODIVA MAY BE MORE THAN YOU BARGAINED FOR

        Q. My local motorcycle group is having a costume party on our property, and we have some concerns about what might happen at the party. Last year, we had a great party, and some of the guests decided they would dress like Lady Godiva. Some of the neighbors complained, but nothing came of it. This year, I have heard that the neighbors have already notified the police, and I expect that they might show up. The major concerns I have are: what gives the police the authority to come on my property, and what would happen if they found some of the (dressed like Lady Godiva and drunk) guests were under 18 ? ABATE OF ILLINOIS members.

        A. Big problems can happen - that's what. Minors should never be present for illegal activity so you need to put on your big Saint hat. Let's deal with the questions in the order you asked them. If a neighbor calls the police because of a breach of the peace, such as loud music, people running around naked in public view, then the police responding to the call may be justified in entering the property. They call that probable cause. If, however, there is no visible evidence of violations (everyone is inside being quiet and the shades are pulled), then the officers would need a search warrant to enter the property based on probable cause. And always use waivers and check ID's. I remember a case involving a pro-football player who held a graduation party. Many of the kids were underaged. The prosecutor chose to make a big deal out of the party when it was alleged some of the kids got into the liquor cabinet. You don't want to be in those shoes if one of those kids imbibes alcohol and has a crash on the way home. And you don't want a prosecutor pointing a finger at you - ever.

        PROVING THE VALUE OF YOUR CUSTOM BIKE TO THE INSURANCE GUYS

        Q. I have a bike that I bought stock five years ago and have made a number of improvements to it including a lot of chrome, custom paint, and other customized equipment. My bike was stolen last month, and the insurance company only wants to offer me book value for the bike. By my estimation, it's worth about twice the book value of a stock bike. Is there any way I can convince the insurance company to re-evaluate their offer?

        A. There may be a way to do that, but good records of what you have done, and photos help immensely to prove the value of your bike. Most insurance policies cover customization and items added to bikes, but the insurance company has to be assured that the customizations that you claim you added were actually added to the bike and became a part of the bike. There are a number of ways to do that. The easiest and best way is to document all the customizations done to the bike. This means keeping meticulous records of the modifications done to the bike, who did them, when they were done, how much they cost, and what effect those customizations had on the value of the bike. You may want to ask your dealer for a written opinion that confirms the value increase. Send all of the photos and documentation to your insurance representative - before your bike gets stolen, of course.

        Let's assume you did a custom job with three distinct components: First, you did some body work - you put on a new fork, new handlebars, and new wheels. You did that during the course of one season and didn't plan on doing any more work that season. It would be a good idea once that work was completed, to take pictures of the bike, put those together with all the receipts from the work done to the bike and send copies of that information to your insurance company. At that point you should get an appraisal for the bike. Often, appraisers work at a motorcycle shop or dealer. You especially want an appraisal if the value of the bike together with the additions is more than what you paid for the bike plus the value of the additions. For example, you bought the bike for $5,000.00; you added $5,000.00 worth of additions, but those additions and your sweat equity caused the bike to be worth $15,000.00 rather than just the value of the bike plus the parts, which was $10,000.00. An appraisal will prove to the insurance company that the bike is worth more than the sum of its parts.

        Now let's assume it's the next season, and you have added a lot of chrome to the bike. Again, you should take pictures of the bike, keep copies of the receipts, describe the work done, and submit that info to the insurance company for their files. Suppose later on you decided to complete the customization and get a special paint job on it. Once that work is finished, you need an appraisal of the value of the bike to show the insurance company what it's worth with all the customizations. With those documents, you will be in a good position to prove the value of the bike to the insurance company should you need to make a claim.

        Remember, some insurance companies offer special guaranteed amount coverage for customizations or for bikes with historic or antique value. If your bike has value for collectors beyond the book value for a stock bike, check with your insurance agent about modifying your insurance to make sure your investment is covered. Never forget that with insurance companies, if it is not in writing it doesn't count. Get email addresses of your insurance company reps and make book on them, because they are making book on you. Meaning, you should confirm every conversation and send them every doc and photo you have. If that doesn't work, call us.

        AM I PUTTING MYSELF "IN HOT WATER"

        Q. I have been an ABATE member since the 70's and I am a member of an MC, my 17 year old son has been brought up around the club and wishes to start entering the ranks as a hang around. My question is since he's under age, could I be charged with contributing to a minor or endangerment of a minor, just because he's with me? ABATE MEMBER

        A. Good question. Yes, and see above Q&A regarding the Godiva party. If there are activities in his presence that are illegal for the underaged he needs to go visit grandparents. Obviously drinking and smoking cigarettes by adults are the exception.

    Ride Safe.
    Rod Taylor
    ABATE Legal Services
    http://www.abatelegal.com

        All questions from ABATE members are answered confidentially unless otherwise authorized and only after the matter is concluded, except when authorization for publication anonymously or otherwise is given for pending matters. Remember, injured ABATE members pay only 28 ½% of total recovery motorcycle crash cases, and expenses as approved by the client. Elsewhere, you may pay 33 ⅓%, 40% or even 50% of your recovery. In those cases, ABATE members are not charged for recovery of damage to their motorcycle, and have access to a 24-hour toll-free telephone number. Call us at 1-(800)-25-RIDER. Questions? Submit them to: RodTaylor@abatelegal.com. © 2021.


  • Ask Our Lawyer
    by Rod Taylor - ABATE Legal Services
    May 2021

    NO ONE STOPS TO ASK FOR DIRECTIONS ANYMORE -JUST ASK ED

        When riding around the country I remember the simple joy of stopping and asking for directions. That stop was part of the journey. I looked forward to asking for help from someone who wanted to give it. More likely than not I would be handed more information than I ever thought I needed, but did. Asking for the best way to get somewhere -what a perfect way to start a conversation with a stranger. Friendly is the middle name of people in this part of the country. More often than not, you get so much more than you ask for. When you ask, time would pass and pass. You would learn - important stuff. I miss that. Nowadays with a GPS you have that person that you don't know with the pleasant voice telling you where to go. She never tells you about the best barbeque or about the shortcut that is not on the map, or about the road commissioner that just put that black sticky stuff with chat on the main drag to the place where you wanted to go. And she doesn't tell you about how business has been or about the FLH that was ridden to Santa Monica on Route 66, or the speed trap two miles down the road waiting for yankees - you know, important stuff. And she never mentions the spot where Lincoln broke up with his law partner just as you go over the Mackinaw River bridge - north of Delavan. And there is never a thought about telling you about where to get the best, cheap, good gas without ethanol, or the best biscuits and gravy. Miss those days, so I am making a point of doing something different - stopping and asking a real person for directions and listening to everything else they want to tell me, and as Ed Schetter, a friend of mine in Ohio says, "Enjoying the freedom of the Ride'." Who needs a GPS?

    PLAYING MOTORCYCLE ROULETTE - THE MOST IMPORTANT ARTICLE YOU WILL READ REGARDING YOUR MOTORCYCLE/AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE POLICIES.

        Like playing Russian Roulette? How about for $100 bucks a year? Worth it? Absolutely not. But that's what you're doing if you don't buy adequate uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage for all of your motor vehicles, but especially for your motorcycle. Studies by the Insurance Research Council indicate that up to 14 percent of drivers do not carry any sort of coverage. And I bet they make up the worst drivers. That is one in eight. And some say that figure is going higher. Even more have inadequate coverage - 25k is not insurance. That is just enough to piss a guy off if you are lying in the hospital with a 100k hospital bill and still more bills to go. Then how do you pay your medical bills, mortgage/rent payments and living expenses? What about pain, suffering, temporary and permanent impairment? The answer is having adequate uninsured/underinsured motorist coverages that you buy. Without it, you may be out of luck - financially.
        If you don't have significant uninsured motorist/underinsured motorist coverages (UM/UIM coverage), you are unprotected against the driver with no insurance or inadequate insurance. If you carry the legal minimum coverage, you may be in compliance with the law, but you are woefully underinsured if you are seriously injured. In other words the roulette game is on for you. Let's say you get injured in a crash that is the other guy's fault. You have medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering of $200,000.00. The other guy has minimal coverage of $25,000. His insurance company pays you the $25,000.00 as that is all he has, leaving you with $175,000.00 of uncompensated damages. If you do as I say, you can claim money for your additional losses from your own insurance company under your UM/UIM coverage. But you can only make a claim for your losses to the extent that your UM/UIM coverage exceeds the coverage of the other guy. Of course, the higher your uninsured/uninsured limits, the better your protection. So just do it. Be easy on me when you call and tell me you are in the hospital and that the adverse has no insurance, and that you did not follow my "I told you so" advice. I will keep my thoughts to myself.

    MOTORCYCLISTS ARE SCREWED AGAIN ???
    TOWING PROTECTION IN INDIANA, ILLINOIS AND OHIO

        Q.     I recently met with an official at the Illinois Commerce Commission to talk about the legality of towing cars from an apartment complex. I am a tenant and was looking to find out under what circumstances the owner's association can tow someone's car. While talking to the official I asked about motorcycles being towed. She told me that the I.C.C. does not regulate motorcycles being towed like they do with cars. Does this mean that my motorcycle can be towed away much easier than a car then be charged higher rates because they aren't regulated. After speaking with an officer from the Illinois Commerce Commission, he advised me that motorcycles are, in fact, exempt from regulation from the ICC. This is due to the fact that special equipment is needed to tow a motorcycle so towing companies are allowed to charge as they see fit. (Which leads me to believe it is more difficult to tow a motorcycle) The exemptions are found under 625 ILCS 5/18, which states that "this Chapter shall not apply to the relocation of motorcycles. Such relocation shall be governed by the provisions of Section 4-203 of this Code." Section 4-203 does not impose any cost restrictions on towing motorcycles.

        A.     Ron, it looks like we motorcyclists were left off the list of protected species in Illinois where the legislature saw fit to protect autos from gouging rates. The protecting statute limits the tow bill for cars but does not apply to motorcycles. It seems the same pirates gouging cars would want to gouge us as well. Now the tow companies in Illinois can do it with a vengeance by saying that the legislature allows them to charge what they want. Ohio also has legislation on maximum tow charges, but does not exclude motorcycles. Indiana has not enacted any protections against gouging tow bill rates (maybe the towing companies are kinder and gentler there). Also, some local cities and towns may have ordinances that regulate tow fees. Keep me posted - we may need a law.
        Since we have had many questions about towing laws here is the towing law in Indiana and Ohio is remarkably the same in that they skip motorcycles. In Indian it shall be unlawful to charge any fee associated in any way with the towing and storage of a vehicle under this chapter, except as follows: For the towing of a vehicle, the maximum fee shall be one hundred and fifty dollars ($150.00); For the storage of a towed vehicle, the maximum fee for each twenty-four-hour period of storage shall be thirty dollars ($30.00); provided, however, that a storage fee may not begin to accrue until twenty-four (24) hours have passed since the vehicle arrived at the vehicle storage facility with a limit of ($2000); A tow business is permitted to require proof of insurance for the vehicle if the owner wishes to drive the vehicle from the storage facility. A tow business is prohibited from denying release of the vehicle based on proof of insurance but may charge a set out fee not to exceed twenty-five dollars ($25.00) for removing the vehicle from the storage facility. ....(T)he fee limitation does not apply to a towed vehicle having a gross vehicle weight of thirteen thousand (13,000) lbs. or greater. If it is determined that a vehicle is towed in violation of this chapter, towing and storage fees which have been paid may be recovered by the vehicle's owner. Liability for damage to a towed vehicle is not limited by the provisions of this chapter. When the vehicle's owner is present and desires to remove the vehicle from a parking lot before it is towed, the vehicle shall not be towed nor a fee charged; however, if a tow truck is attached to the offending vehicle and at least two (2) tires have been lifted off the ground at the time the vehicle's owner arrives, the vehicle shall not be towed but shall be released to the owner upon cash payment of a reasonable fee, not to exceed one half of the regular towing fee in lieu of towing the vehicle. PLEASE NOTE THE PRECEDING!

    STONEY LONESOME MOTORCYCLE CLUB - HOW TO LIVE ANOTHER 60
    (A PREVIOUSLY ASKED QUESTION FROM ROY GARRETT OF DIRT AND WORTH REPEATING)

        Q.     Rod, Stoney Lonesome Motorcycle Club has been around since the 50's. We own around 300 acres in Brown County that we operate as a private club for off-road motorcycle events, many of which are sponsored by the AMA. The AMA events usually involve minors. Having dodged a few lawyers/lawsuits involving minors in the past, what do we need to do to make sure that we are not cleaned out by a lawsuit that could exceed our insurance limits? And can you help us?
        Roy Garrett - ABATE/Dirt Off- Road Director.

        A.     We will do our best to prepare waivers that will help protect your organization against lawsuits. In today's litigation world, courts are routinely recognizing the validity of waivers and are enforcing them so long as they are clearly written and are fair. A few years back, Imre Sauter of the AMA sent a letter referring to a lawsuit filed by an 18 year-old alleging negligence against a ski operation. Sadly, that 18 year-old was severely injured. Although he was 17 at the time of signing the waiver and 18 at the time of the injury, the court held that the waiver was clear, fair and that he had reaffirmed that waiver by subsequent use of the ski facility. I cite this case as an example of how the courts will work with us and enforce waivers, if they are done properly.
        My greatest fear is an injured minor who was accompanied by an adult that arguably did not have the authority to sign the waiver for the minor. I also recommend that the Club form an independent company to lease your facility for all the AMA events involving minors. That company would have complete control and responsibility for the activities on race days and would include requirements to inspect for safety.
        Stoney Lonesome's responsibility should be limited to the leasing of the facility and the complete delegation of the AMA event activities to this new leasing entity. That company should obtain the signatures of the custodial parents of the minors involved in the AMA event. This should be done on site at registration, or in advance if possible. In a pinch, a waiver could be sent to the custodial parent by email (cell phone and the like) with a text consent and acknowledgment. This is not perfect but beats nothing and I believe the courts would uphold such a waiver.
        And don't forget my "YOU ARE A TRESPASSER IF YOU AND ANY MINOR WITH YOU DIDN'T SIGN A VALID WAIVER" sign, that should be posted prominently on the property at the registration point and other high traffic areas. I know that does not look very neighborly, but you and yours want to be around for another 60 and those signs will help me help you with that.

    LAID OFF WHEN TIMES ARE TOUGH

        Q.     My employer is letting me go. I have been there several years and feel that I have done a great job. This has taken me by surprise and I do not feel he has given me a fair chance. He has offered me severance pay for a few months and basically says take it or leave it. Can the company do this to me?
        ABATE member.

        A.     If you do not have an employment contract or union protection, you are basically screwed. Ohio and Indiana are right to work states, meaning that if your employer comes in one day and does not like the color of your shoes, he can fire you. The law will protect you from the various types of discrimination that are prohibited i.e. race, sex, age, religion etc., and I understand that you have no complaints in those areas. Accordingly, your employer's offer to give you severance pay for a few months may be a gift horse. Take the money and run. Do not forget to look into your rights regarding your health insurance.

        Ride Safe.
        Rod Taylor
        ABATE Legal Services
        http://www.abatelegal.com

        All questions from ABATE members are answered confidentially unless otherwise authorized and only after the matter is concluded, except when authorization for publication anonymously or otherwise is given for pending matters. Remember, injured ABATE members pay only 28 ½% of total recovery motorcycle crash cases, and expenses as approved by the client. Elsewhere, you may pay 33 ⅓%, 40% or even 50% of your recovery. In those cases, ABATE members are not charged for recovery of damage to their motorcycle, and have access to a 24-hour toll-free telephone number. Call us at 1-(800)-25-RIDER. Questions? Submit them to: RodTaylor@abatelegal.com. © 2021.


    Ask Our Lawyer
    by Rod Taylor - ABATE Legal Services
    April 2021

    PEO-TAZ COMMENTS ON ABATE LEGAL - SHE CAN CALL HIM "BACK PAY" ROD

        Dear Rod,
        I contacted you some time ago about my long-term disability. It was not the Social Security Office but the insurance company from my previous employer. I have been disabled for over 20 years. And although I was used to having it periodically reviewed, this time around was a nightmare. Having someone else confirm my suspicions, that I was dealing with an overzealous new person who was probably getting incentive to cancel people was more than comforting.
        After terminating my payments, I did ask for an official review. I jumped through all the hoops (metaphorically of course). Even so far as to go out of state for an independent medical review. Which took all of about 20 min for him to confirm what should have been obvious. Thank you so much for your advice and encouragement. Your call just to check and see how things were going, meant more than I can put into words.
        I am happy to say that they have reversed the termination. I told you at the seminar I was just waiting on the money. Yesterday, they paid me my back-pay. Thank you again for all your help and thank you for lunch once again at the seminar. Have a groovy day!
        Shannon Johnson, ABATE member.

        Shannon - Thanks for the good news and you are welcome.
        Ride safe. Rod

    GO FUND ME FUNDS AND DO I OWE THE IRS?

    Q.     Rod, the GoFundMe group has sent me a tax reporting form (1099) for funds that I set up to benefit my daughter who was left with significant hospital bills. Do I have any tax liability for this money as those funds went to pay for her medical bills and related expenses? Worried as I have heard the IRS will audit these 1099's.
        ABATE member.

    A.     It is true that the IRS is looking at GoFundMe transactions as billions have been collected. But they are finding it is for usually good causes like yours - for medical bills. Most of the contributions made through GoFundMe are below the gift tax threshold. In those instances, there is no taxable event if the money is intended as a gift, but there may be taxable events where individuals are contributing significant sums of money. Different rules apply in those cases, so it is important to keep in mind the IRS reporting requirements for gifts over the exemption amount. Donors who contribute more than the yearly gift exclusion to an individual (15k for single taxpayers and 30k for married taxpayers filing jointly for 2020 should contact Gino Johnson, the world's best CPA, for further instructions. He keeps me out of IRS hell. And his advice is reasonably priced.

    BIG LESSON - NEVER OFFEND A POLICE OFFICER IN FRONT OF HIS WIFE

        Such was me at the Seminar. In the zeal to justify my existence to a crowd that gives up their Saturday to learn something that might help ABATE, I suffered a case of hoof and mouth disease. Or kindly putting an inappropriate sense of humor. We have an ointment for that in Wayne County. But to no avail as I offended those that I would never intentionally offend - police officer wives. They are the ones that have suffered in silence lately - painfully watching and hearing news reports condemning police officers. A lot of reporters have the "lumping disease" - lumping in bad cops with the good cops. As we all know, most officers are wonderful public servants that we could not do without, but lately the news seems to concentrate on the bad cops who number very few. If you are not careful you can come away with a sense that most officers are in the public's sights. This is so ironic as my beloved first cousin John Higginson was the longest serving Illinois State trooper at the time he retired and never had to draw his revolver. I revere his service. Police Chief Gary Smith of the Hancock County Police Department and his dear wife Laurie Smith were in attendance at the Seminar. Now the Chief can take a dose of my off the mark humor, but I have learned that you should never expect to get by with that with a police officer's wife. Laurie was rightfully offended at the attempts of inappropriate humor. I called the Chief and requested that he extend my sincerest apology to Laurie with a promise to remember what we all know to be true - that we could not do without police officers like her husband and that they deserve our utmost respect.

    THIS MEMORIAL DAY; LEST WE FORGET - D-DAY JUNE 6, 1944 - PLACES TO RIDE BEFORE YOU DIE: OMAHA BEACH -DOG GREEN SECTOR

        On my way over to ride the Pyrenees Mountains, I stopped and paid my respects to those that died on Omaha Beach in Normandy. If you ever get the chance to go, take it and ride there. You will never forget. On June 6th, 1944, Company A of the 116th Regiment (Stonewall's old Brigade) was to hit the beach at Dog Green Sector in a Higgins Boat (Made in Evansville, IN). That sector was not a good place to be. All 69 of them in that boat were from Bedford Virginia (a wonderful place to ride to ride in the Shenandoah Valley).

        Unlike many of the units that hit the shores of Normandy on D-Day, Company A of the 116th Infantry Regiment, 29th Division, was a National Guard outfit of men from the same hometown. Thirty-seven had grown up together in Bedford, Va., graduated high school together, played ball together, worked together — and 19 of them died together when the Higgins ramp dropped and exposed all of them to German MG 42 machine guns. At 1500 rounds per minute, the boys from Bedford didn't have a chance. The MG 42 sounds like a chainsaw when it is fired - probably the most dreaded sound at Omaha Beach. So distinctively terrifying was this machine gun that the Army developed training films to help our troops deal with the psychological trauma of facing this weapon. It made a sound like ripping cloth. Our boys called it, crudely, Hilter's zipper. Sadly, I am pretty sure our boys knew what they were in for when the ramp on that boat dropped. The thought of dying for my county is ok with me, but dying before I even had a chance to shoot back is not. Western Union clerk Elizabeth Teass sat at a Teletype machine near the back of Green's Drug Store in small town Bedford Virginia just after 8 a.m. on July 17, 1944, when the first telegram came through with the usual language, "The Secretary of war desires me to express his deep regret ..." Teass was accustomed to receiving about one such telegram a week informing families in the Bedford area that their sons, brothers or husbands were missing or killed in action. That morning, she received 11. And she would receive 9 more before it was over. D-Day was as bad as it could get for Bedford as it had just suffered the highest casualty rate of any town in America.

        After I left the beach at Normandy, I had to visit the Colleville cemetery where the Bedford boys and many others are buried. It overlooks Omaha Beach and by any definition is a holy place. I couldn't talk there - draw your own conclusions. The gravestones are marked with the name and state of the fallen soldiers. Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri and Ohio are inscribed on too many. Omaha Beach is a long way from home for those guys and I wondered how many of their folks were able to visit the graves before they, too, passed on. It bothers me that most of their loved ones didn't get the chance to pay their respects. I gathered some sand from the Dog Green sector. I couldn't help it. That sand sits in an hourglass on my desk to remind me and will to my end.

        P.S. Our guide took us by the German cemetery. I didn't ask to go there and he did not ask if I wanted to go. If he had, I would have said no, after all I had lost family at German hands. Then I learned a 13 year-old German soldier was next to a marker that reported, "Most here did not pick the fight or the cause". I am glad I went.

    ABATE LEGAL GIVES GOOD ADVICE - JUST ASK JAN

    To: Rod Taylor rodtaylor@ABATELEGAL.COM Date: 3/8/21 From: janbednarz
        Rod - Your column is the one I read first. I was a commercial insurance agent for 40 years. You have given your readers excellent advice re: uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. You mentioned Alec Caress. Correct name is Alex Karras. Hometown Gary, IN. 4 time All State football from Gary - Emerson H.S. College - Iowa, Pro - Lions. Blazing Saddles was correct. Enjoy your day.
        Jan
        Appreciate your comments and thanks for reading the column. Auto correct is the devil in my life but at my age I need all the help I can get. Am not big enough to get the name wrong of anyone that can knock out a horse. Ride Safe. Rod

    ENGINE NOISE - REASONABLE IS AS REASONABLE DOES

    Q.     I live in an apartment complex in St. Charles, Illinois. I pay my rent and follow the rules. I am a good tenant and have an excellent job. Here is the problem. My lease says that I can not have a motorcycle in the complex unless I get prior written consent from the apartment manager. I want to ride my motorcycle and park it in the complex. I put on my best face when I paid a visit to the apartment manager seeking permission to ride my bike onto the apartment parking lot per the lease. I even offered to shut the engine off outside the boundaries of the complex and push my cycle to a parking place. I have never given the manager any problems and there has never been a complaint about me. I didn't even get to first base as the manager refused to give me permission to park my motorcycle in the complex. I do not believe the apartment management is being reasonable. What can I do? What about the Fair Housing Act? Isn't this discrimination?
        Robert Swisher, ABATE MEMBER.

    A.     It is discrimination, but remember that not all types of discrimination on private property is against the law. You have a better argument under the lease. In most states your contract/lease presumes that the parties to that document are dealing in good faith and are being fair. Your lease allows motorcycles, IF you get written permission. When you signed the lease, it was reasonable for you to believe that the landlord would not unreasonably withhold permission for you to park your motorcycle in the apartment complex. You have not had any noise or speed infractions. For the apartment owners to arbitrarily withhold permission to park your motorcycle on the complex property is unreasonable and is a violation of the lease. But you have gone even further than the lease requires by offering to shut off the engine and push the bike onto the property. That defines your fairness and good faith. If the complex had wanted to bar all motorcycles from the property, they could have said so in the lease. They chose not to and by allowing motorcycles with permission, implied that they would accept motorcycles from those who operated their cycles in a reasonable fashion. My recommendation is that you take a copy of this article and have a talk with them about how good a tenant you have been and that they should give you a chance to prove it. If they have questions, have them call me on my cell (317) 727-4599, and I will do my best to appeal to their better angels. I have a feeling they will go along with the program.

    EMBEZZLEMENT: IT CAN HAPPEN TO ANYONE

        Honest people are trusting people. And most bikers are trusting people. Unfortunately there are people out there that will take advantage of honest folks because they know we are trusting. As much as we all hate staring over the shoulders of our officers or co-volunteers, some basic protections must be in place or else you and your MRO risk falling victim to embezzlement.
        Here are a few tips that can help any MRO avoid becoming a piggy bank for an officer with larceny in his blood:
        1. Every MRO should have a good business practice and that means checking references of those that handle our money.     2. There should be a set method of handling money and no one person should be in charge of both bookkeeping and depositing. Rather, split those jobs between people.
        3. Consider using an accountant for more than just tax filings, it may not be that expensive to also have them do semi-annual audits.
        4. Do not rely on accounting programs to keep everything in check, you should do your own audit and review of MRO funds to make sure everything lines up.
    Having some basic protections in place is essential to help you and your MRO avoid sticky situations. And it gains us business respect from those that watch us.

        Ride Safe.
        Rod Taylor
        ABATE Legal Services
        http://www.abatelegal.com

        All questions from ABATE members are answered confidentially unless otherwise authorized and only after the matter is concluded, except when authorization for publication anonymously or otherwise is given for pending matters. Remember, injured ABATE members pay only 28 ½% of total recovery motorcycle crash cases, and expenses as approved by the client. Elsewhere, you may pay 33 ⅓%, 40% or even 50% of your recovery. In those cases, ABATE members are not charged for recovery of damage to their motorcycle, and have access to a 24-hour toll-free telephone number. Call us at 1-(800)-25-RIDER. Questions? Submit them to: RodTaylor@abatelegal.com. © 2021.


    March 2021

    WHY SHOULD I EVER GO THRU MY INSURANCE COMPANY TO REPAIR MY BIKE WHEN THE OTHER SIDE IS AT FAULT?

        Q.    The little old lady with blue hair backs over your motorcycle in a parking lot and causes significant damage. She doesn't know what happened. Here is the question. "Do you turn the claim for repair over to your motorcycle insurance company if you have collision coverage, or do you try to get the lady's insurance company to pay?"     Good question.

        A.    Since you are not responsible for the damage - she is - you have some choices if you have collision coverage for your motorcycle. So, the first thing is to confirm that you have collision coverage on your bike. If you do, your choice is easy. Turn the claim over to your insurance company. Why, you ask? Since the little old lady caused the damage and it is her fault, some believe that they should make the lady's insurance company pay and leave your insurance company out of it. Wrong. You hired your insurance company to take care of you. Let them.

        Here are the advantages of having your insurance company pay, especially during riding season:
       1. Most of the time your insurance company has an immediate obligation to pay. Otherwise, if you turn the claim over to the other insurance company you have to wait for that company to investigate and determine liability. Then that company has to estimate the damage all of which takes time - your riding time. And good luck getting the adverse to rent you a motorcycle while yours is getting fixed.
       2. Your insurance company is on your side and has a duty to treat you more fairly than the other guy's insurance company.
       3. Your rates will not go up if you go through your insurance company. Some will tell you to the contrary, but they are wrong.
       4. The only disadvantage of going through your insurance company is if you have a deductible, you may have to pay that amount before the body shop will let you have your motorcycle, but you can collect deductible from the other side.

        Some states only require $10,000 of property damage coverage so if your damage and your insurance coverage is more, definitely go through your company.

        Here are the disadvantages of going against your insurance company:
        1. As said above, you may have to pay the deductible amount to the repair shop before they will let you have your bike, but your insurance company will collect the amount of damage it is owed and your deductible from the lady's insurance company and will send the deductible to you.
        2. You may not be able to collect amounts for the rental of another motorcycle from your insurance company - more about that later.

        Here are the disadvantages of going against the other insurance company:
        1. Takes time. They have to investigate your claim and determine liability.
        2. They may send you to "special estimating" facilities.
        3. They have no duty of loyalty. They are the opposing side. They are the Germans.

    THE PERFECT CLIENT

        I have spent a lifetime dealing with those who profile bikers and attempt to portray motorcyclists as less than regular folks. Some people will do that in trials to prejudice a jury against bikers, in hopes to make them look bad, so they will give them less money. I look forward to presenting motorcyclists as they are - just like everyone else. You never know who rides anymore as motorcyclists may be the neighbor next door. They work, have families, pay taxes, vote and RIDE. But every once in a while, you get a biker that looks tougher than Arnold Schwarzenegger in the Terminator. That stereotype is mostly gone. After decades of representing bikers, I am good at presenting bikers as regular folks, even though some may appear differently and live a lifestyle unfamiliar to some. If I have done my job, the juries I pick appreciate the client as just another citizen, looking for the justice we all want. I love my job.

        Then along came a new friend as a client, Vincent Ray. He loves to ride and spends his work time training truckers - a tough job for a tough man, "a rub dirt on it kind of guy". If a fight breaks out in a bar, you want him on your side because that will be the winning side. He is like Alec Caress in Blazing Saddles, if you shoot him, you will just piss him off. And you have no doubt that he could knock out a horse with one punch from that mighty right hand.

        Fast forward. Vincent and his bride Theresia need my help. I will present Vincent as the man he is, a normal, hardworking, voting citizen. But looks sometimes deceive. No question about it, his size puts him into the tough guy category, and can even be a little intimidating. Forget the size thing. Once you get to know him his big heart melts you. Just ask his wife Theresia. And as a school bus driver for kids, she fits into the big heart mold as well.

        But I am privileged to present the honest facts about Vincent - he is a big guy who rides. So I scratch my head and reach into my past. How best to introduce Vincent to a jury? Lawyers usually don't miss much about people, but I didn't see this coming. Had no clue. Nothing about him would steer me toward the information I am about to share. You ask what possibly could I have learned that would have helped to introduce Vincent to a jury and the adverse lawyers? How about years of his background that would melt the hardest hearted German farmer on a jury - the guys that say no to everything. Vincent had been a kindergarten teacher, teaching art to five year olds for 8 years, and after that, he was an elementary school teacher for sixth graders for another 8 years. He loved that job and would still be there if he could have learned how to live on the salary of an elementary school teacher. The Vincents of the world usually don't shout out their good nature. Sometimes it is hidden. Sometimes you have to drag it out of them, as I did with Vincent. I see Vincent in a special light now, and I predict a jury will too, despite his intimidating size. I am a know-it-all lawyer, but Vincent taught me something new.

    MOTORCYCLE RIDE ORGANIZERS - CALIFORNIA TO THE RESCUE - GO FIGURE

        This story is worth repeating as we soon will be at the beginning of benefit ride season in the Midwest. A California Court of Appeals ruled in favor of a ride organization. In that case a couple injured in a recreational motorcycle ride sued because the ride did not have a police escort. Plaintiff was an experienced rider and had signed waivers for previous rides, but somehow got in the ride without signing a waiver. The Court of Appeals ruled that the injured couple "assumed the risk" of the ride.

        In this case the couple on the ride were injured when a van swerved into their lane causing a collision. The court ruled that the couple had waived any right to sue even though they had not signed a waiver for this ride but had signed such waivers in previous rides. (waivers are still needed but this case helps with those that sneak into an event without signing a waiver) The court held that the risk of participating in a motorcycle ride with a large number of participants along public highways is self-evident. And the risk of being injured while on a motorcycle procession is well known as all rides do not have police escorts. The rule is that a voluntary participant in a recreational activity cannot recover damages for injury from a co-participant or organizer if the injury arises from a risk inherent in the activity and the defendant does nothing to increase that risk. The court held that the lack of police escorts did not increase the risk of injury on a public highway.

        Even though this is a California case it can be cited to other courts for its good logic and presents a victory for all organized motorcycle rides in this country. Motorcycle ride organizers can breathe a little easier with this court decision if it becomes the trend in all states. I expect Illinois, Ohio and Indiana courts to follow this trend. Warning: Still require waivers in case the above does not work. Remember my mantra: You never need a waiver until you need a waiver. Got it?

        NOTE: Marc Falsetti was the legal beagle on this one. Marc, thank you for your good eye in finding the case.

    JUST BECAUSE A COP SAYS IT, DOESN'T MAKE IT SO.
    WHEN AN OFFICER'S OPINION AS TO CAUSE OF AN ACCIDENT COMES INTO EVIDENCE

        Q.    A woman driver pulled out in front of me from a stop sign and claimed she did not see me. I had the right of way and was not speeding. I applied the brakes but still hit her. Sad to say, but I said some mean things to her at the scene as I was in pain and could not believe she did what she did. Now her insurance company is trying to turn my bad language against me and even has the officer testifying against me as to the cause of the accident. My case should be a simple one in that she is the one at fault but now I feel like they are putting me on trial unfairly. Can they do this? And do I need a lawyer? ABATE OF INDIANA MEMBER. (case now concluded and information released)

        A.    A police officer's testimony as to the expert cause of a crash will be admitted during a trial only when the officer has been qualified as an expert having sufficient knowledge, education and training to express such an opinion, as not all police officers have such expertise. Unless speed or braking is an issue, your case normally would not need an accident reconstruction expert. She failed to yield to your right of way - case should be over. Of course the officer may testify as to what he saw and heard (if relevant and material), but it is up to the trier of fact (usually a jury) to decide the cause of a crash, unless expert testimony is needed. Issues such as speed, braking, coefficients of friction are the areas in which motorcycle experts testify, but it does not appear that the adverse is raising any issue as to speed or braking. Always be mindful that the investigating officer might be able to testify as to statements made by you and witnesses about the crash and to each other. These statements could include any names that you thought were appropriate to call the little old lady with blue hair when she missed the stop sign while talking on her cell phone. Your lawyer could file a motion with the court and try to suppress such name calling as inflammatory and really not relevant to the cause of the crash. The court may or may not grant your motion. So, you may be left with trying to explain your verbal treatment of the sweetest old lady (at least in court) that ever ran a stop sign. Some jurors might understand the opportunity to express yourself in the heat of injury and severe pain, then some might not, especially the sweet old ladies on your jury. If this ever happens again, help me - help you, by muffling yourself at the scene. As Sergeant Barnes of the VietNam movie "Platoon" said, "take the pain". And yes, you need a lawyer.

        THE ART OF REASONING WITH THE UNREASONABLE (coming soon)

       "To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead." .. Thomas Paine

        Ride Safe.
        Rod Taylor
        ABATE Legal Services
        http://www.abatelegal.com

        All questions from ABATE members are answered confidentially unless otherwise authorized and only after the matter is concluded, except when authorization for publication anonymously or otherwise is given for pending matters. Remember, injured ABATE members pay only 28 ½% of total recovery motorcycle crash cases, and expenses as approved by the client. Elsewhere, you may pay 33 ⅓%, 40% or even 50% of your recovery. In those cases, ABATE members are not charged for recovery of damage to their motorcycle, and have access to a 24-hour toll-free telephone number. Call us at 1-(800)-25-RIDER. Questions? Submit them to: RodTaylor@abatelegal.com. © 2021.


    February 2021

    CRASHED AND WASN'T WEARING A HELMET
    CAN I STILL SUE AND WILL THE INSURANCE COMPANY TRY TO HOLD IT AGAINST ME?

        BEWARE OF THE SILENT "HELMET LAW"

        Q.    Rod - In a helmet free state can you bring a claim for personal injuries if you are injured while riding without a helmet and were not the cause of the crash?
          A.B.A.T.E. of Illinois member

        A.     Good question. In Illinois, if a motorcyclist chooses not to wear a helmet, that decision cannot be considered negligent. So the answer is no, but there are judges out there that need to be educated on the law as to that issue. Not wearing a helmet in a helmet free state is your right much like driving a convertible or small car without a helmet, or riding a bicycle or a horse without a helmet. If you are operating a vehicle legally, you should never be punished for failure to wear a helmet. For example, if you suffered head or neck injuries, the insurance company may claim your injuries were caused by your decision to not wear a helmet. Their goal is to limit liability and assign as much fault to you as possible. That defense is wrong, so our argument is that any legal activity should not be punished by allowing insurance companies to claim that your damages should be lessened for failure to wear a helmet. I call this effort the "Silent Helmet Law" of insurance companies.

        Here is where this nonsense comes from. When a plaintiff files a personal injury lawsuit, some claim that Illinois and other states laws allow a defendant/insurance company to raise contributory negligence (735 ILCS 5/2-1116) as a defense. This theory suggests that the defendant is not responsible for all of the damages because the plaintiff also bears some liability by failing to wear a helmet. Could failing to wear a helmet, even though it is not required by state law, be considered negligent on the part of the plaintiff? We say no way and that is how we approach ABATE cases when insurance companies attempt to raise that issue. In short, motorcyclists who abide by traffic laws when they decide not to wear a helmet, should not be considered as contributing to their injuries. Be on the alert for the insurance making this argument. With a good lawyer on your side, you will be able to show that you are not responsible for any portion of your injuries by the failure to wear a helmet.

        The law is similar in Indiana, a no helmet state for those over 18 years of age. Indiana Code Section 9-19-7-1-1 provides:
    "An Individual less than eighteen (18) years of age who is operating or riding on a motorcycle shall do the following: (1) Wear protective headgear meeting the minimum standards set by the bureau and (2) Wear protective glasses, goggles, or transparent face shields."

        However there is no current Indiana case law which evaluates the question of fault of a minor being injured in a bike/motorcycle accident without a helmet. When looking at Indiana law, so long as the rider is over the age of 18, evidence of the failure to use a helmet would be inadmissible in court. This is because the lack of a helmet is not the "proximate cause" (i.e. reason for) the accident. This is the same principle that has been developed for seat belts though the Indiana seatbelt law applies to all people of all ages and specifically states that fault cannot be attributed to someone not wearing a seatbelt. The Indiana Court of Appeals has noted that "in a majority of jurisdictions, evidence of a motorcyclist's failure to wear protective equipment is inadmissible in the absence of a statutory duty". See State v. Eaton, 659 N.E.2d 232, 236 (Ind. Ct. App. 1995). That same court found the motorcyclist in the case had no duty to wear a helmet or other protective eyewear, and thus the trial court did not err in prohibiting the state from introducing evidence of motorcyclist's failure to use protective eyewear in motorcyclist's action for injuries sustained in accident. State v. Eaton, 659 N.E.2d 232 (Ind. Ct. App. 1995). Even with a minor, the no helmet issue must be a proximate cause of the injury.

        Some insurance companies take great efforts to wrongfully use the fact that a motorcyclist was not wearing a helmet as a defense to injuries, particularly head injuries. The purpose of trying to use such evidence is to suggest to a jury that the failure to wear a helmet contributed to causing the injury and, therefore, is a factor which may reduce the amount of compensation the motorcyclist may receive. That is misleading to a jury.

        To show how judicial comments can get out of hand, a judge in a federal case involving the City of Chicago made an inadvertent comment in a case that had nothing to do with motorcycles, bicycles or injuries. This case shows how casual comments can cause motorcyclists problems when they present a case of personal injury while riding. That federal case grew out of an incident in which a barge caused damage to a bridge of the City of Chicago. In discussing whether the City was contributorily negligent in its maintenance of the bridge, the judge used an off the mark example noting that, "Even a thin-skulled bicycle-rider could be contributorily negligent for failure to wear a helmet." What if that judge made a similar comment as it concerns motorcyclists? At ABATE we reaffirm that the law in Illinois, Indiana and most states take exception to that kind of judge "talk".

        Even though federal court decisions do not create authoritative precedent for state courts, a state court judge may find a federal court's ruling persuasive and in the absence of clear state law authority, may choose to follow it. So we should be concerned that it is just a matter of time before an insurance defense lawyer in a motorcycle crash case cites that case to persuade a trial judge to consider that an injured bicyclist/motorcyclist was not wearing a helmet at the time of their crash.

        For over four decades I have argued on behalf of ABATE Members that Illinois cases Hukill v. DiGregorio, 484 N.E.2d 794 (2nd Dist. 1985) and Clarkson v. Wright, 483 N.E.2d 268 (1985), hold that a failure to wear a helmet cannot be used to prove an injury victim's contributory negligence or to reduce the compensation to which they may be entitled. The majority of courts addressing the issue have, for assorted reasons, rejected the admissibility of helmet evidence. The federal court comment about bike helmets was what is generally referred to in the legal world as dictum. Dictum is a remark by a judge that is not intended to create binding authority. But that verbiage can cause harm and does not reflect Indiana nor Illinois law, nor the law of most states. Spread the word.

    WHY WE NEED A POA (power of attorney) AND WHAT IT DOES

        Q.     We are semi retired and have time to enjoy riding all over the country. We have heard that we need a POA. Why is this necessary and what does it do for us?
        ABATE member.

        A.     Everyone needs a POA for both health care and your property. If you become disabled, someone has to take care of your business, pay bills etc. and make decisions for you. Choose wisely the person that you make your agent. They are in a position to rip you off, so this person must be a trusted friend or relative. If you do not have someone that meets this requirement, some banks can be hired to take on this responsibility if your assets are large enough to meet their minimums. For the average Joe this is a problem. If you have a good friend that is a lawyer, you might try to talk them into serving for you in that capacity. The good news is that most lawyers have insurance that would protect you if the lawyer got a brain tumor and stole your stuff. ABATE LEGAL drafts and provides POAs free of charge to members.

    WHEN JAMES MADISON WROTE THE 4TH AMENDMENT REGARDING SEARCH AND SEIZURE, WAS HE THINKING OF NAKED PICTURES ON AN iPHONE?

        Q.     My boyfriend talked me into taking compromising pictures of me on his Harley. Then he was arrested for riding his motorcycle while intoxicated. The cop who arrested him found his iPhone and of course the nude pictures of me. Excited by his find, he called other officers over for a viewing of the photos of me. This seems so wrong since some of the cops knew me and my family. Did the officer violate our rights?
        ABATE member.

        A.     As we know all warrantless searches are governed by the Fourth Amendment which protects us from unreasonable searches. Reasonableness is the magic word here. It has long been the rule that the area within the "wingspan" or "grab area" of the person being arrested may be searched, as well as the contents of his person. This area may be searched without regard to the seriousness of the offense. But the wonder of the Fourth Amendment is that by use of the word "unreasonable" it is positioned to be adaptable to the times. Madison could never have envisioned the photos of you or the thousands of pages that can be stored in an iPhone. Some courts view a smartphone as like any other container that is subject to searches. However, other courts like the Supreme Court of Ohio, have held that the expectation of privacy is the reason that the police must get an additional warrant to search a phone's contents. In Ohio the cops would have been out of line, but this appears to be a minority view of the courts around the country. Stay tuned on this one.

        Ride Safe.
        Rod Taylor
        ABATE Legal Services
        http://www.abatelegal.com

        All questions from ABATE members are answered confidentially unless otherwise authorized and only after the matter is concluded, except when authorization for publication anonymously or otherwise is given for pending matters. Remember, injured ABATE members pay only 28 ½% of total recovery motorcycle crash cases, and expenses as approved by the client. Elsewhere, you may pay 33 ⅓%, 40% or even 50% of your recovery. In those cases, ABATE members are not charged for recovery of damage to their motorcycle, and have access to a 24-hour toll-free telephone number. Call us at 1-(800)-25-RIDER. Questions? Submit them to: RodTaylor@abatelegal.com. © 2021.


    January 2021

    YOU PLAY YOU PAY - THE MUSIC NAZIS ARE WATCHING

        Q.     Our local ABATE group is having an event that supports a local charity. We play music over our sound system with an iPod. Do we really need a license to play music we already paid to download? And what if we don't pay? ABATE of Indiana member.

        A.     If you play music publicly, and there is a charge for admission, you have to pay for songs that are in the registry of outfits that are watching for those that play and don't pay. The largest of these groups are BMI, SESAC and ASCAP. I have dealt with these outfits and they are not fun. Their job is to catch folks like you playing the music of their clients without permission. They are like bounty hunters and I suspect they get paid per scalp. Understanding licensing laws isn't easy, and it can be tempting to do what you want to do and hope you won't get caught. That isn't wise. Most come to events and festivals armed with phones with cameras that can be posted to the internet. A clever representative of a company like BMI or ASCAP needs only to look at that clip for proof that you are using music without a license. The law is on their side if they take you to court and ask for thousands of dollars in damages depending on the crowd.

        If you do not get a license to play the registered songs and if you do not get caught - no problem (that comment ignores the ethical issue of a rights organization). Like with the IRS, as long as you don't get caught cheating on your taxes, you can get by with it. But that is not the way our country works. We are mostly voluntary compliance types in this country and that is the way it should be with compensating those who have valid rights for the use of their music. Problem is many do not know that a high school marching band, an aerobics class playing music, a bar playing Elvis and Roy Orbison songs and a do gooder organization all need a license to play registered songs in a commercial environment.

        Some songs are not registered, but you probably would not want to play those unless your crowd is a fan of John Phillips Sousa or maybe Roy Rogers. You get the idea.

        What happens if you don't pay? They can throw the book at you and get big bucks in the form of fines and damages. To avoid big-fine city, you need to buy a license to play music at your commercial events, especially when there is a charge for admission. If you are having friends over to your home for a barbeque - no problem and no license required. The cost for a license for your chapter event depends on several factors i.e. number of songs, number of people attending etc. Check out the website for BMI and ASCAP. The site and explanations for what you need are very straightforward and easy to use. Spread the word on this as motorcycle rights organizations such as ours need to set the example. If you have more questions call me.

    SHOULD I OR SHOULDN'T I BE A GUARDIAN?

        Q.     My late wife's son was badly injured in a motorcycle crash and I want to get appointed as guardian, or at least I think I do? She left him considerable funds. What are my responsibilities as a guardian?
        ABATE of Ohio Member

        A.    The court will require you to care for and manage your step-son's estate prudently, and may authorize you to spend your ward's (step-son's) money for his comfort, support and education. If the Estate has enough money, you can be paid for serving as a guardian. Your bill for services, however, must be supported by careful records, and be approved by the court prior to you being paid.

    A CHANGE OF HABIT - MOTORCYCLE APPAREL

        Most of my riding life has been done with safety equipment that I have owned for years - old-fashioned stuff. I have my leather, steel toed boots that come to my knees, the same Hein-Gericke jacket and matching chaps that weigh a hundred pounds when wet, and of course, my Ace Hardware yellow leather gloves. When geared up, I look like an extra in the movie "Cruising", except for the gloves. What more do you need, you ask?

        Let me tell you what I have learned that may save you some time and a hide transplant in Memorial Hospital. And I am speaking to a lot of riders my age that have grown comfortable with traditional riding gear, and do not get it or even care about the new stuff that is out there. Don't get me wrong, as I am not about to go out and buy something colored green, but I am paying attention to friends that went down and survived without a stay in the hospital because of what they were wearing.

        Based on the following episode that will be described in detail, I am the owner of First Gear items that I have grown to like (it is not green). All of which were selected for me by the folks at Cycle Outfitters. Harley shops sell similar good stuff. This equipment is top notch, comfortable, easy to get on - and off - rain proof and will do the job if you have a chance to go sliding down your favorite stretch of asphalt when the little old lady with blue hair (or old man with no hair) doesn't see you. I can't tell you how painful it was for me to give up my knee high steel-toed boots that I have been training for years, but I did it. They sold me some boot replacements that are rainproof and more sure-footed, and are comfortable to walk in.

        Imagine this: you are riding along at the speed limit with no particular place to go. Life is good and so is the sun. Then it happens. A car from nowhere blasts you from the side and propels you into the air. You travel over 125 feet before Isaac Newton is proven correct - again. What do you think about during the air time? Here are examples of reports I have received over the years and in particular the good end results caused by wearing proper motorcycle apparel.

        Usually, no one can talk me out of my habits. That is until I spoke with Jay Jackson (the Dean of modern motorcycling). And a clincher was the guy that flew over 125 feet in the air, landed; laid still for a minute to see if his parts still worked, and then walked away with a beer-winning war story. Friends like Rick Chupp tangled with a cager pulling a trailer on I-70; Jay Jackson survived a charge by a moose of a deer on I-74. Jay had nary a scratch and Rick lived to see another day. Both wonder what would have happened if they weren't wearing good gear. The experience of these folks talked me into leaving my long time habits.

        Now for the war story..... You will hardly ever hear me tell sad tales of motorcycle incidents. I ride and I just don't like to dwell on the unpleasant. Besides, there but for the grace of the Almighty, goes me. Well, here is what happened to the flying motorcyclist. When the collision and subsequent launch occurred, he remembered thinking that he couldn't believe this was happening to him and wondering how much the landing was going to hurt. Many have reported to me how long it seems that you fly through the air and how much time you have to think about things before you land. I tried to calculate the time you have when you are launched 125 feet. Engineers claim we travel 22 feet per second at 15MPH. I have to assume that it takes us awhile to get up to speed after we are hit - like maybe a couple of seconds. So add two seconds to the over six seconds we fly through the air for 125 feet. With that amount of time we have an eternity to think about life and such. I am in awe of the way people describe these seconds in a near mystical/religious manner. In short, this time is nearly always described as seeming far longer than it is. Like Mother Nature is letting you savor what may be the last healthy moments of your life. Thinking things like; what you should have said to your mother-in-law or your asshole boss.

        Now for the landing part; he came down on his side, and all he remembers is sliding and sliding. They all do. That and the heat on his left knee and elbow. The shoulder comes next when his feet catch a hump in the ground and cause him to tumble uncontrollably. He feels the tips of his state-of-the-art boots doing what they are supposed to do. He feels the body armor in his knee and shoulder pads go to work. His gloves go to work next - and they are not Ace Hardware specials. (Interesting fact: skin on the palms of your hands can't be transplanted so always wear gloves). He remembers the heat build-up in his gloves and that the time of sliding seemed to never end. But it did. He laid there - totally still. Then, like he was running a check-list for an airplane flight, he methodically surveyed the movement and operation of his parts. Joy! They all worked. He slowly rises to stand. People around him are screaming for him to stay down. He just smiles with the recognition that he has just been shot at and missed. He will remember this day until he dies.

        The voices of those coming to help him are muffled as he takes inventory of his riding gear. His riding gloves did the job, but they are now souvenirs of a bad day. His body-armored jacket and pants are now odes to good judgment. He refuses the offer of the EMT to get checked out as he is just fine - some lawyers hate that. He is now a disciple of this riding gear and will proselytize all of those who will listen for as long as he lives. When asked how he would have fared without his body armor, he says, "at best, he would have been laid up a long time."

        Enter Rod Taylor. After hearing this amazing tale of survival, and despite being a creature of stubborn habits, I am a convert to this kind of riding gear. My leather jacket and boots have been semi-retired, but I still have my Ace Hardware gloves -not sure why. I have now entered the world of modern riding apparel.

    MY BUDDY JUST HIT ME

        Q.     Rod. While riding last week, my buddy hit me from behind. My bike was trashed, but I escaped with minor injuries - I think. Can I trust the insurance company to do the right thing with me? I also don't want the insurance company to give my friend a hard time. How should I handle this situation?

        A.     Don't trust the insurance company to do the right thing. Some do, but some don't. They are not on your side. Their job is to pay you as little as possible. That said, the insurance company is motivated to settle your claim quickly - within reason. It costs them money to handle claims.

        Separate the damage to your bike (property damage claim) from your personal injury claim. Your friend's insurance company should fix your bike ASAP. If they want you to sign a release for the damage to your bike, make sure that release is for your property damage only. Better yet, send me a copy and I will make sure it is ok for you to sign. You are also entitled to damages for loss of use of your motorcycle. Don't let them tell you because you have other modes of transportation that you are not entitled to loss of use. The law allows you reasonable loss of use. As to your personal injury claim, make sure that your doctor has fully examined your injuries and that you are healed. If that loss is minor, call me and I will give you some pointers. There are time limits for your case and you should discuss that with me asap. If the insurance company is unreasonable, tell them you are going to hire a lawyer. That usually gets them to deal fairly. If not, call me. If your personal injury is serious you need a lawyer. It is not a fair fight between an experienced insurance adjuster and you. Remember does not count unless it is in writing, so get the email or cell number of the adjuster and confirm everything they tell you when they tell you.

        Ride safe, Rod
        ABATE Legal Services
        http://www.abatelegal.com

        All questions from ABATE members are answered confidentially unless otherwise authorized and only after the matter is concluded, except when authorization for publication anonymously or otherwise is given for pending matters. Remember, injured ABATE members pay only 28 ½% of total recovery motorcycle crash cases, and expenses as approved by the client. Elsewhere, you may pay 33 ⅓%, 40% or even 50% of your recovery. In those cases, ABATE members are not charged for recovery of damage to their motorcycle, and have access to a 24-hour toll-free telephone number. Call us at 1-(800)-25-RIDER. Questions? Submit them to: RodTaylor@abatelegal.com. © 2021.




    December 2020

    RETURNING VETERAN FROM IRAQ     HIS RIGHT TO RIDE

        Q.     Our son is returning from active duty in IraQ. He has a new motorcycle and wants to ride it as soon as he gets home, but his driver's license/MC endorsement has expired. How long does he have to renew his license and the MC endorsement? A.B.A.T.E. OF ILLINOIS MEMBER.

        A.     Usually military personnel on duty out of the United States have a reasonable period of time to renew their driver's license. In most states in the Midwest, returning vets have up to 45 days to renew. Since you are in Illinois, tell him to get on his scoot and ride because he has two score and five days to enjoy his bike. And thank him for his service for us.

    ELECTRIC SCOOTERS AND HARLEY LOOK-A-LIKES

        Q.     My daughter wants an electric Harley Look-A-Like. She is 12 and we live in the city. Can she legally ride it on the sidewalk ?
        ABATE of Ohio member.

        A.     Most cities and towns have laws that bar these "vehicles" from sidewalk use and probably she would only be allowed to ride it on private property. Several legislatures have introduced legislation that would have made the use of such vehicles illegal on streets and sidewalks. And there are laws that tend to treat electric scooters as a motor vehicle in most jurisdictions. Check your homeowners insurance policy to make sure you have coverage in case your daughter runs over the little old lady with blue hair.

    PLACES TO RIDE BEFORE YOU DIE     HELLS' ANGELS 1942 STYLE

        Next year on your way to Daytona tooling down I-16 or I-95 near Savannah, you may want to stop and pay homage to the Hell's Angels of the 8th Air Force. There you will find a museum dedicated to the Mighty 8th of the Army Air Corps. It was in Savannah that the 303rd Bombardment Group (H) was formed to fight the Germans during WWII. The Hell's Angels, as that group called themselves, often fought the "Abbeville Kids", the German yellow-nosed FW 190s. On January 11, 1944, the 303rd made a devastating strike that took out much of the German Air Force. For this, the Hell's Angels were awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation for bravery against the enemy. At the Mighty 8th Museum you will learn all about those who sacrificed their lives for ours. Did not know that the 8th suffered more casualties than the entire Marine Corps during WWI?. And both suffered so much for our way of life.

        If you want to get on the lighter side of things, ride into Savannah to Chippewa Square. (Savannah is laid out in a series of squares with the houses on the outside and a park in the center. They say much of London is laid out the same way). It was there that Forrest Gump told his life story - feather and all.

    SPRING ROAD WORK GUIDELINES     LOOKING AHEAD TO WARM WEATHER

        These notes come from the Missouri DOT, but apply to all of the places we ride. -Rod

        The spring pavement striping program will begin after the first of the year, and drivers will see slow-moving caravans of trucks painting roadways throughout the state. Crisp, easy-to-see striping is a significant safety feature on roadways. The paint contains glass beads that reflect light from headlights in the dark. The "striping trains" move between 8 mph and 12 mph when workers are painting white and yellow lines on the highways. The trucks have flashing lights, boards with flashing arrows and signs that say "Wet Paint."

        Many striping crews are working 12-hour days Monday through Saturday. Although most of the striping is done during daylight hours, some nighttime work will be scheduled when traffic volumes are lighter. Rain or very damp conditions will cancel or cut short any striping work that is scheduled.

        Safety Tips
            Motorists should use caution in and around the striping equipment and crew workers. Here are riding tips to remember when coming upon a striping project:

        - Stay behind the last truck in the work train. This will keep you from tracking fresh paint across the lanes and damaging the new stripes. It also will prevent paint from getting onto your bike.

        - On four-lane highways, pull around the striping train by merging carefully into the open lane.

        - On two-lane highways, stay behind the last truck in the striping train, a place well behind the striping truck. This will give the new paint the few minutes it needs to dry. If traffic backs up behind the striping train, crews will pull out of the way where it is safe to do so and let congestion clear.

        - If you drive through wet paint, which is water-based, clean your bike as quickly as possible with a high-powered water hose such as those used in car washes.

        ABATE, though many know it not, is one of the greatest rights organizations ever;
        but what it reaches for by far exceeds what it has achieved,
        and what it has achieved is magnificent.

    BEHOLD: THE TEN COMMANDMENTS OF WAIVERS, RELEASES AND HOLD HARMLESS AGREEMENTS

        1.   Be familiar with every point in the waiver.

        2.   Appoint a waiver overseer to direct the process of signing and processing the waivers.

        3.   Examine photo identification and compare signatures (this may be discretionary in some instances).

        4.   Then Waiver Overseer shall initial properly executed waivers at the time of execution (this is so you are able to obtain an affidavit verifying the authenticity of the signature should that become necessary after an incident).

        5.   Secure waivers after confirmation (should be kept a minimum of two years).

        6.   Transfer the signed waivers to the event person assigned to hold waivers from the event.

        7.   In the event of an incident (however slight), notify the head of the event and your organization's attorney.

        8.   Secure waiver of the alleged injured person and make copies to be faxed and emailed to your attorney.

        9.   Original waiver is to be retained by waiver overseer until further instructions from your attorney. Do not mail the waiver anywhere, and guard it with your life, as it may be your organization's silver bullet etc. to avoid litigation.

        10.   Get names, addresses and telephone numbers of all witnesses. Remember that long ago Gen. Forrest said it best - the firstest with the mostest wins.

    LEAD A RIDE, OR HOW TO GET SUED WITHOUT REALLY TRYING

        Three Golden Rules

        Q.     I have been asked to lead a ride for the local veterans group charity. What should I say to the participants of this ride and can I get sued if something bad happens during the ride? I want to do this, but I would like to know how much trouble I can get into if things do not go as planned.
        - ABATE of OHIO member

        A.     The normal tendency of most experienced riders is to help those with less experience. Regarding the rules for a ride, the following is a good guideline to keep you out of the courthouse — and from getting sued. You should assume that all riders have been adequately trained by the state that has issued that rider a license to ride. We all know people who can't walk well, don't drive a car well and even more that don't ride well. Our instinct is to try and help the gyroscopically challenged. However, before a ride is exactly the wrong time to start giving instructions on how to ride. Remember, it is the state's job to do that with trained instructors. There is a rule of law that places liability on your shoulders if you ASSUME a duty, a duty you may not have had under the law, and then fail to perform that ASSUMED duty properly. So, if you assume a duty of providing additional rules and riding instructions for the ride, you may have just set yourself up for a lawsuit, if they can claim your instructions were inadequate or just plain wrong. Remember, all you need to get sued is a lawyer with very little to do with a client that has a filing fee.

        Here are the three commandments for ride leaders that will best keep you out of the courthouse and away from the process server jockey.

        1.   Rely on and assume that the riders are trained and skilled. After all, the state has sprinkled holy water on them and provided them a license/endorsement to ride a motorcycle.

        2.   Reaffirm the obvious — all riders are to follow the rules of the road and to obey all laws. Don't make up any new ones. Common sense is your key to safety. The riders on the ride are the ones that have to use it.

        3.   Make sure all riders know the road that is being taken to the destination. Map quest takes it off you — use it. If the ride is escorted by the law, put it in their hands and off your shoulders.

        P.S.: Check your homeowners insurance policy. You may have coverage under that policy as a volunteer for a not-for-profit organization like a veterans group. That may be nice to know, so call your agent.

    TOWNS PASSING HELMET LAWS IN STATES THAT ARE HELMET FREE
           IS THE TAIL WAGGING THE DOG?

        Q.     A member of ABATE was riding through Portage and was stopped by a cop for not having a helmet. When the biker produced a motorcycle endorsement and advised the police officer that Indiana was helmet free. That officer advised the biker - good try but in Portage, the city had an ordinance requiring a helmet. How can this be when Indiana is a helmet free state?
        ABATE of Indiana member.

        A.     The officer is wrong. It only makes sense that we have uniform laws throughout the states. To hold otherwise would be to require bikers in helmet free states to map a path of travel in order to avoid helmet requiring towns. Those cities and towns are not being practical, or good citizens. They may mean well, but they are off the rail. Recall that Myrtle Beach in South Carolina tried to pull that one a few years back. The Supreme Court of that state slapped Myrtle Beach and held the ordinance unconstitutional. Likewise in Cleveland, where the city passed a stronger law on gun possession than the state required. The Ohio Supreme Court ruled "no way" on the more restrictive ordinance, and held Cleveland's ordinance unconstitutional by saying that in areas where the state has laws, cities and towns need to back off where the state has already decided to regulate. The lawyers call that preemption. One way to cure aggressive tactics of wayward cities and towns that violate our rights by stopping us based on bogus laws, is to require those towns to pay damages to the biker for the unconstitutional stop. If they can fine us, we should be able to fine them.

    PROGRESSIVE INSURANCE COMPANY DENIES PAYMENT TO BIKER FOR LOSS OF USE OF MOTORCYCLE
        ARE THEY TAKING ADVANTAGE OF BIKERS?

        Q.     Rod: A fellow motorcyclist that was not paying attention crashed into the rear of my brand new 2012 Street Glide that still had the paper tags on it. I am sick about it as I only had it for two weeks. The guy that hit me admits it was his fault and Progressive, his insurance company, has accepted responsibility for the damage to my rear fender, but are not willing to pay for my loss of use of the bike. The dealership says that they can not get me a new fender in 6-8 weeks. It does not seem fair that Progressive can get off the hook by paying only for the fix of the fender. Don't they owe me something for loss of use of my motorcycle? After all, it is riding season! That way I could rent another bike until my bike is repaired.
        ABATE MEMBER.

        A.     Hold your ground; they owe you. Progressive Insurance Company touts itself as user-friendly for motorcyclists, so I am sure they are not trying to pull a fast one - at least you should give them the benefit of the doubt on that one for the time being until we give them a chance to overrule the adjuster handling your claim.

        You have a duty to lessen (mitigate) your damages, but you also have a right to be put in the position you were in prior to the crash. Just because an insurance company says they don't do something doesn't make it so. Most states in the midwest, including Illinois, Indiana and Ohio allow loss of use damages which is payment for loss of use of your motorcycle. This loss is measured by the reasonable rental value of your motorcycle and will vary depending on the value of the vehicle/motorcycle involved.

        In most states, it doesn't even matter if you rented a replacement vehicle, you still get the value of your loss of use. Indiana and Illinois courts have said that to decide otherwise would be to favor those who could afford to rent a replacement vehicle over those who could not. Those that can't afford to rent a replacement vehicle still have a loss of use which can be measured by the loss of the reasonable rental value.

        Despite the law, some insurance companies still try to take advantage of motorcyclists by saying you have other vehicles you can drive, so you don't have a loss. This is false. Surely a company which seeks motorcyclists' business would not take this approach. Share this article with that adjuster. It might help. And send the adjuster the communication that you received from the Harley dealer that is doing the repair confirming the 6-8 weeks delay in getting the parts for repair. Then get a figure from Harley as the to reasonable rental value for a motorcycle comparable to yours. Armed with this information, you should "educate" the agent as to the facts and the law. I predict they will send you a check for your loss. If they don't, I will call them for you.

        Ride safe, Rod
        ABATE Legal Services
        http://www.abatelegal.com

        All questions from ABATE members are answered confidentially unless otherwise authorized and only after the matter is concluded, except when authorization for publication anonymously or otherwise is given for pending matters. Remember, injured ABATE members pay only 28 ½% of total recovery motorcycle crash cases, and expenses as approved by the client. Elsewhere, you may pay 33 ⅓%, 40% or even 50% of your recovery. In those cases, ABATE members are not charged for recovery of damage to their motorcycle, and have access to a 24-hour toll-free telephone number. Call us at 1-(800)-25-RIDER. Questions? Submit them to: RodTaylor@abatelegal.com. © 2020.


    November 2020

    BMW RECALLS MOTORCYCLES WITH DEFECTIVE BRAKES

        ABATE LEGAL previously warned members about BMW motorcycles with potentially defective and dangerous brakes. BMW has done right by motorcyclists who have purchased the affected models by issuing a non-compliance recall and stop sale which is set forth below. BMW Motorrad is announcing a recall and stop sale for the K50, K51, K52, K67 and K69. The recall is related to a potential leak of the front brake calipers in vehicles produced from 8/27/2018 up to 2/28/2020. A process is currently being developed to inspect the affected vehicles and repair if necessary. The affected VIN's have been marked with a stop sale flag "STOP340006." Bikes in dealer inventory with this stop flag cannot be sold until further notice. More information will be communicated through Dealer Direct as it becomes available.

       August 13, 2020 NHTSA CAMPAIGN NUMBER: 20V476000

       Front Brake Calipers May Leak/FMVSS 122

       Overtime, a leaking front brake caliper can reduce the amount of brake fluid in the reservoir. Low volume could affect brake performance, increasing the risk of crash.

       Summary:    BMW of North America, LLC is recalling certain 2019-2020 R 1250 GS, GS Adventure and R 1250 RT, 2020 S 1000 RR and S 1000 XR motorcycles. The front brake calipers may leak brake fluid when parked. As such, these motorcycles fail to comply with the requirements of the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard number 122, "Motorcycle Brake Systems."

        Remedy:     BMW will notify owners, and dealers will inspect and if necessary, replace the front brake calipers with an improved version, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin October 6, 2020. Owners may contact BMW customer service at 1-800-525-7417.

    MOTORCYCLE BRAKE FAILURES?     LIFE OR DEATH IN THE OFFING?

        [Article written last April warning of the problem.]

        Received a call from a long time ABATE member who purchased a 2019 BMW R1250 with a leak failure in the Hayes brake caliper. He suffers from unanswered questions that should have been answered by the dealership and the manufacturer, especially after repeated repair attempts to fix the new motorcycle, or so they said. Sadly, his brand-new motorcycle still drips brake fluid from the caliper and the dealership that is handling his problems is a hundred miles away. I reminded him that Indiana is still one of those Cro-Magnon states that does not have a lemon-law for motorcycles. In the age of motorcycles costing as much as autos, I do not understand that lapse of motorcycle protection by the legislature.

        If you learn of other such failures, please call ABATE LEGAL at 317-635-9000 and ask for Rod. This could be a matter of life or death.

    ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT (OR EASTERN FRONT)?

        I attended this year's Meeting of the Minds in Indy which was one of the best ever. Jay Jackson and his crew of invincibles pulled that one off and gave us perfect weather to boot. At the Meeting I had a chance to catch up with our gallant leader of the MRF. No one works harder, or smarter, or travels farther for the MRF than Kirk "Hardtail" Willard. He is truly the unsung hero of motorcyclists in this country, and probably worldwide. He can claim some Hoosier - Illini heritage as his job takes him to the facilities of Clabber-Girl - located in Terre Haute.

        I remembered a previous conversation with Hardtail that occurred in Sturgis years ago. I brought up the subject of the State of the Union as far as we bikers were concerned. I suggested that I had not heard about pressing issues in Congress or of scary legislation being rolled about on Capitol Hill. With his intense focus, he cut me to the quick and posed the following, "do you have any idea how much work it takes to keep Washington D.C. and its collection of do-gooders "quiet" concerning proposed bills affecting motorcycle rights?" With that response he made his point. I had become so hardened to expect one adverse motorcycle piece of legislation after another being proposed that I had lost track of the point. That we did not want any bills out there being kicked around that impact us adversely - period. The moral of the story is, that because it is "Quiet on the Western Front", it is also no time to relax. "Quiet" is hard work. Thank you Hardtail and all of the folks at the MRF for what you do.

    "BUCKNERED" IS A NEW VERB

        Had a chance to catch up with Mark Buckner at the Meeting of the Minds, a long-time mover and shaker of the MRF. Time usually causes most of us to rust out, but not with Mark. He looks the same.

        And it was great to hear stories from others of how he could cleverly entice an unsuspecting motorcyclist into a conversation as to how badly that person was needed to support the "cause". Mark is described as having the skills of an encyclopedia salesman in that at the end of the conversation the "unsuspecting' had a new task assigned to him by Buckner without realizing it. This happened so many times to so many "volunteers" that Jay Jackson coined a new word in the English language for the occurrence - "Bucknered." Here is the meaning of this new word that I have sent to "Webster's International Dictionary to consider for inclusion in the next edition of that dictionary. Bucknered \buck-nurd\v - a crafty procedure to entice good hearted people to work hard for the rights of motorcyclists. Likely involves the transfer of funds from the good hearted person to the bank account of the Motorcycle Riders Foundation. And usually occurs while that person does not realize that he is being had by the "great proselytizer" of the MRF. After the process some of these volunteers are heard to have exclaimed, "I have been Bucknered".

    ESCORTING UNESCORTED RIDES

       Q:     We have tried to get our police department to help us as escorts for our bike runs and as road guards, but they claim they are too busy and that we need to find off-duty officers who will volunteer. We haven't had any luck. We inquired about being able to take a course to train us to be certified road guards to take pressure off cops and free them for more important things. There is no class in New Mexico, but we were told if we establish a curriculum the state will help us establish a class. My question is: are there any other states that have such a class and if so, could you share that information with me? - Annette, NM

        A:     (This response is from Jay Jackson Executive Director of ABATE of INDIANA) I am not aware of any state that allows for anyone other than law enforcement to escort a procession that can disregard traffic control. Even parades can get a little weird. Some states have a provision in their code that allows for funerals, but are usually pretty specific with regard to who can conduct the escort. In addition, in some states, it is a felony to block traffic at an intersection to allow the ride to pass through.

        What you have been told is pretty common across the country, especially in larger cities. Police departments used to conduct funeral escorts and they also used to help people that locked their keys in their car. Hardly any departments (maybe a few small towns) do either of these anymore. Most of the larger rides are forced to "hire" off-duty law enforcement to organize escorts. The going rate is about $100 per officer (that's per intersection if they are blocked for any real length of time) and generally about $500 for someone to perform administration (apply for permits and schedule the individual cops).

        I hate to be saying this, but I would suggest seeking legal counsel before having your members "play cop" either with, or without, any sort of training. If there is an "incident" and anyone other than recognized law enforcement is "in charge" the whole event or organization could be liable. I was part of an event that had an off-duty cop, out of his jurisdiction, on his own bike that was helping us out. After about 10 minutes at this particular intersection a car got tired of waiting, pulled around two other cars and drove into the intersection collecting three bikes in the process resulting in serious injury to several riders. All kinds of people got named in that lawsuit and it was indeed a learning experience.

        Except for the biggest rides where we bite the bullet and pay as much as $5000 - $10000 for off-duty cops, we've taken to having destination rides where people travel in small groups (3-8) obeying traffic laws and just meet at the end rather than have one massive group. Life sure was a lot easier in the old days. Good Luck.

    DEAD MAN TALKING?

        Q:     My father just died, and as the personal representative, I have been working on collecting all of the estate assets - death benefits, retirement accounts and the like. It turns out that my dad, who was divorced 10 years ago, had never changed the beneficiary of his retirement plan at work. Now, his ex-wife is going to get all of his retirement benefits. Is there anything I can do?

        A:     Unfortunately, probably not. Only the employee can make changes to the retirement plan (including death benefits, investment accounts and pensions), so once the employee passes away, there is no way to make changes to those designations. Further, if your father was covered under a type of plan called an ERISA plan (named after the federal law that regulates those plans) only a specific type of order (called a QDRO) can automatically change the beneficiary upon entry of the divorce order. If such an order was not entered and he took no steps to change the beneficiary, the retirement plan will pay the named beneficiary, even if it was obvious that your father did not want that to happen. Some states, including Indiana, have statutes which will by operation of law revoke all provisions in the will in favor of the spouse, but you should consult with a lawyer to see what the law provides in your jurisdiction or whether the divorce order was sufficient to change the beneficiary. Also, remember that other assets like life insurance, motor vehicle titles and bank accounts can have survivor rights attached to them, and they will also need to be reviewed to make sure that proper steps have been taken to change the beneficiaries.

        Ride Safe.
       Rod Taylor
       ABATE Legal Services
       http://www.abatelegal.com

        All questions from ABATE members are answered confidentially unless otherwise authorized and only after the matter is concluded, except when authorization for publication anonymously or otherwise is given for pending matters. Remember, injured ABATE members pay only 28 ½% of total recovery motorcycle crash cases, and expenses as approved by the client. Elsewhere, you may pay 33 ⅓%, 40% or even 50% of your recovery. In those cases, ABATE members are not charged for recovery of damage to their motorcycle, and have access to a 24-hour toll-free telephone number. Call us at 1-(800)-25-RIDER. Questions? Submit them to: RodTaylor@abatelegal.com. © 2020.


    October 2020

    ROADHAZARD REPORT TO THE COUNTY RE: CHIP SEAL

        Please be advised our law firm has been contacted regarding a dangerous roadway in your area. It has been brought to our attention that 400 West nearest S.R. 10 is covered with loose gravel, presumably from chip sealing. Chip Seal can be a nightmare for motorists and motorcyclists alike; slick conditions, tar on vehicles, vehicle damage, etc. Please see that any areas that are scheduled for Chip Seal are swept of any excess rock in an expeditious manner.

    POTHOLES VS CHIP SEAL?

        A bad day starts with reading a sign that says "fresh chip seal ahead". You have two choices- maybe. Turn around or see how lucky you are, and head into asphalt hell. As we know, chip seal is a bituminous treatment that is a coating of liquified asphalt (let's call it oil) covered with sharp rock that can bust windshields, cut tires, puncture eye protection and cause hours of cleanup. No one likes chip seal other than the bureaucrats who seek re-election/reappointment.

        What about the dangers of loose chips which you cannot see that take you by surprise, especially on the curves. Road rash due to chip seal is the worst. Besides flat tires and the balls of asphalt that spit up into your face on a hot day, what is there not to like about chip seal? At least you can see potholes and maneuver around them.

        So do we vote for roads screwed up with total coverage of oil and rock, or go for a few potholes that we can deal with? I know what works for most of us. In 2020 there has to be a better and safer way.

    ROAD NAZIS ON YOUR RIDE - HOW TO DEAL WITH THEM

        Q. Hi Rod and Brian, I have some questions on behalf of the Blackhawk chapter of ABATE of Illinois. When a chapter has an event and other organized riding clubs join the ride and they decide to provide road guarding without our solicitation could our chapter be held responsible? Could our chapter add a clause to the event release stating that all riders are to follow the traffic laws and posted traffic signals and we do not permit road guards and road blocking?

        This scenario recently happened on a ride that we hosted. We received a letter from the city of Moline informing us that we must complete an application if we want to ride in a parade style. I thank you for your consideration on this matter. - Carla Enburg, Newsletter Coordinator

        A. Carla, your Chapter and ride organization are in harms way if you allow/acquiesce in others violating the law. Your idea of adding a clause to the event release is a good one. And I like your idea of advising that all ride attendees are to follow the traffic laws. I would go so far as to post this information at the registration facility and at the beginning of the ride.

        While I appreciate that these errant participants were just trying to help, many do not recognize that vigilante road guards are illegal in most states - even if they are trying to do the right thing - in their mind. A common misconception is that the leaders of any motorcycle ride have the authority to stop traffic in the interest of safety. The law prohibits this do-it-yourself ride control.

        The reason for the draconian rules against vigilante road guards is that horrific crashes have been caused by well-meaning volunteers, who in most cases, have had no or inadequate training to perform such duties.

        A few years back at the Miracle Ride, we had an off duty, out of city, out of uniform police officer attempt to control traffic on a U.S. highway in Indianapolis. A disgruntled person objecting to the off-duty and out of uniform officer's attempt at traffic control, proceeded thru the intersection injuring two participants. Certainly a showstopper for them, and the rest of the five thousand riders.

        Moral of the story? Let the local police officers do what they are trained to do and leave the rest of the riding to us. P.S. We can help you with the language in your ride waiver.

    POLICE OFFICER IN WILL COUNTY 0 - ABATE MEMBER 1

        Sean McDonald was having a wonderful day on his bike until he reached the intersection of Bronk and Caton Farms Roads. There he was confronted with a notorious traffic signal device from hell - well known around the Joliet area. This type of signal delay problem is the reason a state law allowing bikers to proceed through a red signal after waiting a specified time, was passed.

        So much time elapsed for Sean, that he had time to get off his bike to adjust his saddle bags. After he complied with state law, he proceeded as the red light still glared. About the time he got into 3rd gear, he noticed one of Joliet's finest in the rear-view mirror. He had an inkling of the problem he was about to confront.

        The conversation went like this. Officer. "May I see your driver's license". Sean. "No, because I did nothing wrong". Officer. "Are you resisting". Sean, (humorously) "Are you calling for backup". Sean knew she was stopping him for proceeding through the red light. And he knew that he had waited the legally required amount of time, so he was like the Christian with four aces. In defense of the officer, she was not a rider and had not been informed of the state law allowing a bike to proceed through a traffic signal under specified conditions. Still, Sean couldn't believe that the officer was citing him, despite his protests. And he couldn't believe she was unaware of the law allowing him to "run the red". He invited her to look up the statute on her computer. Neither could find it (more on that later), so Sean was cited for running the red light. He couldn't believe it.

        At home that evening, he was surprised to see Officer Maureen drive up to his garage and exit her squad car - smiling. Her first words were magnanimous, " Sean, I am here to let you know that I am big enough to admit I was wrong and that you were right. Give me the citation that I issued today as I have notified the department that the citation was incorrectly written". She had found the law authorizing Sean's actions.

        I salute both of these citizens; Sean for sticking up for his rights and Officer Maureen for admitting a mistake. And I predict that Maureen will be running the department one of these days, and Sean will still be sticking up for what is right - the epitome of the perfect ABATE member.

        Since this statute is so hard to find, I have provided the citation and summary of the Illinois law. Clip this article and carry it with you as you may run into other non-riding officers that are unaware of the change. Same goes for many other states that have a similar law. And follow Maureen's and Sean's lead - keep it light and smile. In short this law allows motorcyclists to proceed through a red light after waiting the required time.

        (625 ILCS 5/11-306) (from Ch. 95 1/2, par. 11-306) 3.5. In municipalities with less than 2,000,000 inhabitants, after stopping as required by paragraph 1 or 2 of this subsection, the driver of a motorcycle or bicycle, facing a steady red signal which fails to change to a green signal within a reasonable period of time not less than 120 seconds because of a signal malfunction or because the signal has failed to detect the arrival of the motorcycle or bicycle due to the vehicle's size or weight, shall have the right to proceed, after yielding the right of way to oncoming traffic facing a green signal, subject to the rules applicable after making a stop at a stop sign as required by Section 11-1204 of this Code.

    WHEN HAS MY MOTORCYCLE TIRE TREAD WORN OUT ITS WELCOME?
    RICK CHUPP/CYCLE OUTFITTERS TELLS US TREAD HEIGHT AND COOLING IS THE SECRET.

        Q. How can you go from a motorcycle tire tread depth of 2/32″ (a supposedly safe motorcycle tire) to paper thin in less than 500 miles? I thought the tires were made better today. The tire was absolutely paper thin when it was replaced. If that tire had deflated while I was traveling down the interstate, would the manufacturer have any liability for personal injuries that I may have had because of the sudden wear of that tire? ABATE OF INDIANA MEMBER.

        A. According to Rick, the minimum safe tire tread is 2/32″ (or one millimeter for you metric guys). An easy rule of thumb is to take a penny and place it in a tire groove. If the tread is deep enough to reach the top of Lincoln's head, you have approximately 2/32″. Another trick is to measure the wear bars with a ballpoint pen by running the pen through a groove until you hit the wear bar. (They are hard to see, hence the ballpoint pen.) If the tread is even with the wear mark- park it unless you are going to a shop to replace it, and then don't ride any faster than you are comfortable with sliding down the road on your hide.

       As to the question on how the tire wore so quickly in the last 500 miles, Rick Chupp of Cycle Outfitters (one of the best motorcycle tire suppliers in the country), provides an answer. He believes that the tire grooves provide significant cooling, hence, as the tire wears, less cooling. Remember, the hotter the tire-the faster the wear.

        We know of numerous cases of our fellow motorcyclists unknowingly riding on paperthin tires only to incur a blowout at interstate speeds. The result can be devastating. You don't just pull over on the side of the road and get off. It does not work that way. A deflation on a rear tire at 70 mph goes approximately as follows:

       You could get lucky and get to the shoulder without any problems. Unfortunately, you could notice a mushy handling characteristic, indicating a developing problem. By the time you have figured out what has happened, you are trying to slow from 70 mph, but the bike is becoming increasingly unstable. The rear end does not want to cooperate.

       If you have a passenger, that problem is tripled. If you are lucky/skilled, you may be able to maintain control and somehow get you and your passenger to the side of the road without catastrophe. In many cases, the motorcyclist loses control in the process of slowing the bike. That control loss is occasioned by known and unknown gyroscopic forces that are forcing the bike into odd aerodynamic postures and increasing forces from wind resistance. When all of these forces, including gravity and friction, are competing for control of your bike, you lose. The point of this story is that don't even consider less than perfect tires and interstate speeds. While tires are more reliable today than ever, tire manufacturers demand air pressures be kept as specified and that the tire is not used beyond the wear specified for that tire. Do not be fooled by the wonderful tire experience you have on your automobile.

        Those tires may very well last 60,000 miles. Because of the nature of the manufacturer's compounds of the motorcycle tire, and because of the extraordinary demand of a motorcycle tire, namely that it be flexible in almost all axis, rear motorcycle tires routinely need replaced at 10,000 miles. Again, use the Lincoln head penny or the wear marks as your guide. If your motorcycle is a Garage Queen (has not been ridden 10,000 miles in a 4 to 5 year period), I would replace the tire.

        As a final answer to your question, relating to facts that you pose, I find it hard to imagine that any jury would find fault with the tire manufacturer if the motorcyclist did not comply with the manufacturer's recommendations on inflation and wear. Clearly, they could conclude that you misused the product in question, despite your claim that there was excessive and sudden wear the last 500 miles of the tire.

        Ride Safe & Free,
        Rod Taylor
        ABATE Legal Services
        www.abatelegal.com

        All questions from ABATE members are answered confidentially unless otherwise authorized and only after the matter is concluded, except when authorization for publication anonymously or otherwise is given for pending matters. Remember, injured ABATE members pay only 28.5% of total recovery motorcycle crash cases, and expenses as approved by the client. Elsewhere, you may pay 33.3%, 40% or even 50% of your recovery. In those cases, ABATE members are not charged for recovery of damage to their motorcycle, and have access to a 24-hour toll-free telephone number. Call us at 1-(800)-25-RIDER. Questions? Submit them to: RodTaylor@abatelegal.com. © 2020.


    September 2020

        Hi Rod, first off I'd like to thank Brian Shadiow and yourself and your office for the preparation of my Will. That's a valuable service you provide and much appreciated! In your column this month there was a question about the pronunciation of ABATE. I know this is a trivial issue, especially in light of our Country's current events. Anyway, the dictionary pronunciation for the organization ABATE is abate (uh-beit). ABATE originally stood for A Brotherhood Against Totalitarian Enactments but has since stood for American Bikers Against Totalitarian Enactments; American Bikers for Awareness, Training and Education; A Brotherhood Aimed Towards Education; and American Bikers Aimed Towards Education. In 1972 I was a sophomore in High School, working in a small truck stop when a driver left a well used copy of EasyRiders magazine with an article about the National Custom Cycle Association, but the membership application information was missing. After two phone calls I got to speak to Lou Kimsey and was told the NCCA's name was changed to ABATE and was told what the letters stood for, so I got the pronunciation right from the founders mouth. Hope this finds you well.
        M.E. Evans Jr., Canfield Ohio

    STATE FARM AGENT LIKES ROD'S ARTICLES ... HERE IS WHY

        Rod -Thank you for the great articles every month. As an Abate member, an avid motorcyclist, and insurance agent, I look forward with great interest to your article each month in the Hoosier Motorcyclist. In my office, we work hard to educate our customers on the coverage's you frequently write about. I was rereading your article from July about uninsured/underinsured coverage and wanted to share an idea with you and ask you a question. State Farm no longer offers uninsured/underinsured coverage on our Personal Liability Umbrella Policy. However, you can still get 1MM of uninsured/underinsured on your individual motorcycle policy if you carry 1MM in BIPD. Could I get your permission to reprint that article and share it with our customers that ride? I know I'm preaching to the choir, but I'm trying to share this with all our customers that ride!
        Sincerely, David Wiese, State Farm Agent Attica, IN Phone: (765) 762-6151.

        David,
        Hoosier Motorcyclist is ok with your reprinting the article referred to below. Please give ABATE credit in your brochure. We need all the members we can get. And thanks for being an ABATE member and watching out for your insured motorcyclists. I will be reprinting your email to me so we can all learn.
        Ride safe. Rod

    SEE BELOW!

    MUST READ !!, MUST READ !!, MUST READ !!,
    YOU NEVER NEED UN/UNDERINSURED MOTORIST COVERAGE ... UNTIL YOU NEED IT.
    ALWAYS BUY AS MUCH AS YOU CAN GET TO PROTECT YOURSELF AND YOUR FAMILY.
    IT IS CHEAP!
    SOME SUPERSTITIOUS PEOPLE BELIEVE THAT IF YOU HAVE LIFE INSURANCE YOU WON'T DIE. MAYBE THAT SAME WARPED THINKING WORKS WITH UN/UNDERINSURED COVERAGE? THAT YOU WON'T GET RUN OVER BY A NEAR DO WELL IF YOU HAVE IT?
    IT HURTS THE SAME WHEN YOU GET RUN OVER BY SOMEONE THAT HAS PLENTY OF INSURANCE, BUT IT HAS TO FEEL A LITTLE BETTER WHEN YOU HAVE PROTECTED YOU AND YOUR FAMILY.
    BUY IT TODAY ... TELL THEM ROD SENT YOU!!!!

    BLOW IT OUT YOUR PIPES?   CAN THEY REALLY IMPOUND MY BIKE?

        Q. I was riding my bike the other day, when a local cop stopped me for not having a muffler on my bike. I have an expensive custom bike, and it has pipes, but no baffles. The cop and I got into it a little bit, and he threatened to have my bike impounded. I was afraid that if they impounded my bike, it would have been damaged, so I backed down. I'm still mad about it, though. Can they do that?
        A.B.A.T.E member.

        A. As with most legal questions, the answer is, it depends. Mostly, it depends on where you live and what the law is there. In Indiana and Ohio, inappropriate mufflers are subject to citation and fine as misdemeanors.

        The officer can stop you and give you a ticket, and you will more than likely be allowed to roll on down the road. In Illinois, however, the law is much more strictly written. Under Illinois law, "It is unlawful for any person to drive or move or for the owner to cause or knowingly permit to be driven or moved on any highway any vehicle . . . which is equipped in any manner in violation of this Code." See the details of the circumstance where you can be towed in Illinois Vehicle Code 625 ILCS 5/11-1302.

        The Illinois vehicle code requires that "Every motor vehicle driven or operated upon the highways of this State shall at all times be equipped with an adequate muffler or exhaust system in constant operation and properly maintained to prevent any excessive or unusual noise. No such muffler or exhaust system shall be equipped with a cutout, bypass or similar device. No person shall modify the exhaust system of a motor vehicle in a manner which will amplify or increase the noise of such vehicle above that emitted by the muffler originally installed on the vehicle, and such original muffler shall comply with all the requirements of this Section." Since the statute declares that a vehicle in violation of the vehicle code shall not "be driven or moved on any highway," the officer would be within his authority to impound the bike and have it towed.

        Neither Indiana or Ohio have the same sort of language. Both of those states make it an infraction (Indiana) or minor misdemeanor (Ohio),but neither statute authorizes the officer to impound the bike. So if you feel like racking those pipes off (within reason) in Indiana and Ohio you can do so with some assurance that the cop won't impound your bike unless you are really disturbing the peace. In Illinois - go quietly as the little old lady that you awake could be the cop's mom.

    NO FEET AT A STOP?   DID YOU RUN THE SIGN?

        Q. I have been an ABATE member and rider for more than 20 years. Last week I was riding and came up to a stop sign. I was able to stop without putting my feet down. The local town cop saw me and arrested me for "running the stop sign." I thought all you had to do at a stop sign was stop. The cop laughed at me when I used that excuse. Should I fight this or let it go? P.S. I have a CDL license and this could affect my job.
        ABATE MEMBER.

        A. FIGHT, FIGHT, FIGHT. You are a CDL holder and you have no choice but to fight. Serious points will be assessed against your CDL license if you don't. (It has always stuck in my craw that the points are assessed against your CDL licence when you are on your motorcycle - not your truck). The cop is just plain wrong and needs to be educated. This case reminded us of one in Springfield where a bicyclist was ticketed by a cop for running a stop sign when the two wheel operator failed to put his feet down at a stop sign. The cyclists argued with the cop that he merely balanced the bike at a full stop and then proceeded through the sign. The officer did not buy it nor did the judge, who could not believe that a cyclist can balance a bike at a full stop. The cyclist offered to demonstrate his ability to the court with the bike. To the judge's surprise, the balance was shown and the case was ordered dismissed.

        Many of us get very good at stopping with no feet. The slow ride at biker events allows most of us to practice this to perfection, but most cops are under the illusion that if you don't put your feet down you did not stop. There is a presumption against us that there is motion unless one foot is on the ground. THAT IS NOT THE LAW. Usually there are two defenses to this type of allegation; 1. I had my foot down and the cop didn't see it or the cop was lying (judges usually don't go for the last one) or 2. I don't have to put my foot down because I can balance the bike. WARNING: be prepared to demo your balance skill to the court. ADVICE: if you are short on time, it is easier to put a foot down.

    PROVING THE VALUE OF YOUR CUSTOM BIKE TO THE INSURANCE GUYS

        Q. I have a bike that I bought stock five years ago and have made a number of improvements to it including a lot of chrome, custom paint, and other customized equipment. My bike was stolen last month, and the insurance company only wants to offer me book value for the bike. By my estimation, it's worth about twice the book value of a stock bike. Is there any way I can convince the insurance company to re-evaluate their offer?

        A. There may be a way to do that, but it depends on how good your records are. Most insurance policies cover customization and items added to bikes, but the insurance company has to be assured that the customizations that you claim you added were actually added to the bike and became a part of the bike. There are a number of ways to do that. The easiest and best way is to document all the customizations done to the bike. This means keeping meticulous records of the modifications done to the bike, who did them, when they were done, how much they cost, and what effect those customizations had on the value of the bike. Oftentimes that requires hiring the services of an appraiser to evaluate the bike with and without the modifications. And take lots of photos and send them to your insurance representative - before your bike gets stolen, of course.

       Let's assume you did a custom job with three distinct components: First, you did some body work - you put on a new fork, new handlebars, and new wheels. You did that during the course of one season and didn't plan on doing any more work that season. It would be a good idea once that work was completed, to take pictures of the bike, put those together with all the receipts from the work done to the bike and send copies of that information to your insurance company.

       At that point you should get an appraisal for the bike. Often, appraisers work at a motorcycle shop or dealer. You especially want an appraisal if the value of the bike together with the additions is more than what you paid for the bike plus the value of the additions. For example, you bought the bike for $5,000.00; you added $5,000.00 worth of additions, but those additions and your sweat equity caused the bike to be worth $15,000.00 rather than just the value of the bike plus the parts, which was $10,000.00. An appraisal will prove to the insurance company that the bike is worth more than the sum of its parts.

        Now let's assume it's the next season, and you have added a lot of chrome to the bike. Again, you should take pictures of the bike, keep copies of the receipts, describe the work done, and submit that info to the insurance company for their files. Suppose later on you decided to complete the customization and get a special paint job on it. Once that work is finished, you need an appraisal of the value of the bike to show the insurance company what it's worth with all the customizations. With those documents, you will be in a good position to prove the value of the bike to the insurance company should you need to make a claim.

        Remember, some insurance companies offer special coverage for customizations or for bikes with historic or antique value. If your bike has value for collectors beyond the book value for a stock bike, check with your insurance agent about modifying your insurance to make sure your investment is covered. Some insurance companies offer coverage for a specific supported value. This might be your best way to go. Never forget that with insurance companies, if it is not in writing it doesn't count. Get email addresses of your insurance company reps and make book on them, because they are making book on you. Meaning, you should confirm every conversation and send them every doc and photo you have. If that doesn't work, call us.

        Ride Safe & Free,
        Rod Taylor
        ABATE Legal Services
        www.abatelegal.com

        All questions from ABATE members are answered confidentially unless otherwise authorized and only after the matter is concluded, except when authorization for publication anonymously or otherwise is given for pending matters. Remember, injured ABATE members pay only 28.5% of total recovery motorcycle crash cases, and expenses as approved by the client. Elsewhere, you may pay 33.3%, 40% or even 50% of your recovery. In those cases, ABATE members are not charged for recovery of damage to their motorcycle, and have access to a 24-hour toll-free telephone number. Call us at 1-(800)-25-RIDER. Questions? Submit them to: RodTaylor@abatelegal.com. © 2020.


    August 2020

    "FLY AND RIDE", IT USED TO BE TIE AND RIDE.

        Long before Harley Davidson came up with the Fly and Ride Program that made motorcycling across the country so easy, others had an idea that made traveling the Natchez Trace workable. Back in the 1820's Midwesterners that wanted to haul the corn crop via whiskey down to New Orleans would build a flatboat and take the current of the Ohio and Mississippi all the way at about 4-5mph. All they had to do was steer away from the shoals and other water hazards. Once in New Orleans, the travelers would sell the flat boat for scrap and then what? Some walked back to the Midwest taking the Natchez Trace, which runs from Natchez to Nashville Tn. and is still the perfect motorcycle run. During the depression, the WPA tackled the road and turned it into a national treasure. No large vehicles or semis are allowed. Just passenger cars, small trucks and of course motorcycles. It is one of those roads you need to ride before you die. Back to the story of "Tie and Ride". Rather than walking back to Illinois, Indiana or Ohio some would pony up for a mule or donkey and split the bill. One would start out riding the mule/donkey and would soon be far ahead of the walker. The deal was - at noon the rider would tie up the mule/donkey and start walking. When the first walker reached the tied-up mule he would ride until he caught the walker that tied the mule. At nightfall the travelers would camp for the night, have supper and start the "tie and ride" all over again the next day. Hence the term "tie and ride".

        Have wondered if one of the Harley execs knew this history of the Natchez Trace and just modernized it to ‘fly and ride"? EVERY MOTORCYCLIST SHOULD RIDE THE NATCHEZ TRACE BEFORE THEY DIE

        444 fabulous miles and no commercial traffic. That means no semis, no billboards, no lawyer advertising, no power lines, no road alligators, no crossroads to get hit in - just pure backroad riding for 10 hours at 50 mph. Plan on two days and if you are heading south, start in Nashville and if you are heading North start in Natchez.

       If you want food or a hotel you have to get off the trace. Some of the restaurants are wildly famous and good. Print the list from the internet. Fried chicken is the best ever and the barbeque is a close second. You can visit a cypress swamp with real alligators - not the road kind. Windsor Ruins is a treat and the old town of French Camp is a step back in wonder. Stop in Tupelo and pay your respects to the birthplace of Elvis. And stopping in Vicksburg is a must as it was a key battle during the Civil War. The town reigns as a crown jewel for southern style cooking. If you are a biscuits and gravy person, you might not leave. And once you get to Natchez you might as well head on down to New Orleans following the Great River Road.

        Almost Heaven.

    SAD ANNOUNCEMENT   "MIRACLE RIDE 2020"   BUT WE WILL RIDE AGAIN

        The Miracle Ride has been cancelled because of many uncertainties including, most importantly, the health of the Riley Kids who would sit in their wagons and wheelchairs outside the Riley Hospital supporting the thousands of motorcyclists that participate in the Ride. That Ride has raised over $6,000,000 for Kids at Riley. Mark this down - we will ride again for the kids next year.

    RIDE INSURANCE FOR A CHARITABLE FOUNDATION

       Q. I am a board member of the Hartbauer/McBride Bikers Helping Bikers Foundation. We hold events to raise money to give bikers a helping hand. Hartbauer is a 501C3 charitable organization, my question is when they have an event and someone were to be injured, would the board members be liable for damages if there wasn't insurance for the event? We have a website if you would like to check it out for more information. ABATE of Illinois S.W. Region Coordinator - Dennis Kinnikin

        A. Dennis. You ask a good question. Normally Board members would be immune from lawsuits concerning an incident involving the charitable corporation. But you must make sure that the charitable organization is acting like a corporation and complying with its legal requirements. Many states provide immunity to those who serve on charitable boards. Otherwise the fear of personal liability would deter many from serving worthwhile causes.

        As an aside many homeowner insurance policies provide coverage for when a board member is sued personally. So if you get sued, call your insurance agent to check for coverage. Actually you should call your agent and inquire if you have coverage and if not can you get it? It should be dirt cheap as there is little exposure to the insurance company. - Rod

    ED SCHETTER ASKS GOOD QUESTIONS

        Abate of Ohio's Ed Schetter, is good at covering our liability exposure. Here was his concern and it is a good one: Many ABATE/MRO'S own trailers that are used for ABATE/MRO business only, but many do not own towing vehicles. Ed's concern is, how ABATE should handle the potential liability where it is alleged that the trailer was a cause of an injury/crash.

        Most MRO's maintain trailer tires, lights, brakes and the like and are responsible if there is a failure of those items that causes a problem. Which means that if there is a failure, your organization could get sued. Usually the insurance policy of the volunteer towing vehicle for ABATE would provide primary coverage for any occurrence alleging a malfunction of the trailer, but a key issue is - how much coverage? If the driver has the state minimum, that may be woefully inadequate to take care of serious injury/significant property damage. You know - like the investment banker in a 300k Ferrari.

        I recommend the following:
        1. Maintain an ABATE/MRO policy that prohibits non ABATE/MRO use. In other words, the trailer is not loaned out for use by others.
        2. Establish minimum limits of insurance policy coverage for those who tow the ABATE trailer and to provide evidence of this coverage (a copy of the Declaration Page of the policy is fine).
        3. Make sure that the General Liability Policy of ABATE/MRO provides excess coverage above the limit of the towing vehicle. If it doesn't your MRO is exposed, and your MRO should investigate the cost of acquiring such a policy. If you can't afford one, then require higher limits for your volunteer tow vehicles.

    PLUMB AND SQUARE AND LEVEL? ... NOT IN THE WORLD OF MOTORCYCLING
    WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU GET TO THE EDGE.

        The other day a semi came up behind me and passed me a little too close for comfort. The wind blast pushed me off the road onto the shoulder. Normally, that wouldn't be a problem, and since I had taken the Motorcycle Safety course, I was ready for the change in pavement. What I wasn't ready for was the sharp drop-off between the highway and the shoulder. It seems the highway department had been replacing the pavement and had milled off the top layer of the shoulder. As a result, there was a three to four-inch drop from the highway surface to the shoulder. When I attempted to climb back onto the roadway, the bike got caught on the lip and spilled me. What is the best way to climb uneven pavement on a motorcycle? ABATE OF INDIANA member.

        You've already done a good thing, which is to take a Motorcycle Safety course. There's no doubt that trying to get over a raised pavement is very difficult. Often the best thing is to stop, wait until there's a break in the traffic, and slowly bring the bike back onto the roadway. Come at it at as close to a 90 degree angle as possible. The closer you are to going straight at it, the better the bike will climb the drop-off. Conversely, the closer you are to parallel the drop-off, the more likely you are to catch the wheel on the drop-off and dump the bike.

        Jay Jackson, Executive Director, ABATE OF INDIANA, suggests some good ways to handle similar situations. He notes that the Motorcycle Safety Foundation recommends a process for going over objects that we are unable to avoid by stopping or going around. You must determine if it is possible to surmount the obstacle. You should be able to ride over a two by four from a contractor's truck, but obviously that won't work with a sofa that fell off of a furniture truck. You want to approach the object at an angle as close to 90 degrees as possible. If you don't have your protractor handy, just try to contact it close to square. Control your path of travel by looking to where you want to go. Look well ahead and toward your escape route, don't look down or at the obstacle. If it is that important, go back and look at it after you've gotten over it and parked. Jay also says to use a specific method to surmount the obstacles. Rise slightly off the seat. Keep your knees bent and against the tank. Bending your knees has them working like shock absorbers and allows the motorcycle to move beneath you without bouncing your feet off the pegs. Roll on the throttle. A slight bit of acceleration just before the obstacle, combined with shifting your weight to the rear, will lighten the front wheel to provide for more travel in the suspension. When the front tire contacts the obstacle, roll off the throttle. Now you can breathe again. Once you've gotten back on the road, you should do a couple of more things. The first is to inspect your bike and then contact your ABATE Legal Services team and report the hazard. As you know by now, the Legal Service team maintains a website, http://www.roadhazard.org, to track these problems and report them to the proper authorities. Our experience has been that once the government entity is on notice, the hazard gets corrected quickly.

    GOOD HEARTED NEIGHBORS? FINAGLING FOR MY INHERITANCE ... REMEDY

        Q. My mother lives out of state and has been assisted in her activities by the next-door neighbors. My mother has a will that leaves her estate (not large, but a nice chunk of change) to her children and grandchildren, but I recently found out that she may be attempting to change her will to leave the estate to the next-door neighbors. What can I do to prevent her from doing that?
    ABATE OF OHIO MEMBER.

        A. Unless you want to take drastic measures, there's not much you can do to prevent someone from changing a will. Any competent person can execute a will, so unless you can have your mother declared legally incompetent, you can't prevent the execution of a new will.

        However, there are alternatives. A will can be disregarded by the court if there has been "undue influence" on your mother during the drafting of the "new" will. That is, if your mother was being manipulated or coerced into changing the terms of the will or the beneficiaries of the will. If you can produce evidence that your mother was being unduly influenced by her neighbors to change her will, then the court can throw out the "new" will and probate your mother's "old" will.

        Ride Safe & Free,
        Rod Taylor
        ABATE Legal Services
        www.abatelegal.com

        All questions from ABATE members are answered confidentially unless otherwise authorized and only after the matter is concluded, except when authorization for publication anonymously or otherwise is given for pending matters. Remember, injured ABATE members pay only 28 ½% of total recovery motorcycle crash cases, and expenses as approved by the client. Elsewhere, you may pay 33 ⅓%, 40% or even 50% of your recovery. In those cases, ABATE members are not charged for recovery of damage to their motorcycle, and have access to a 24-hour toll-free telephone number. Call us at 1-(800)-25-RIDER. Questions? Submit them to: RodTaylor@abatelegal.com. © 2020.


    May 2020

        ABATE MEMBER'S COVID-19 EMPLOYMENT ISSUES

        Craig Horton called with an employer problem related to the Coronavirus. He drives a truck but is not a member of the union nor does he have a contract. In other words, an employee fireable at will except for the usual constitutional prohibitions. His doctor advises he is in the risk group regarding the virus. His employer says he can leave but may not have a job when he returns. Must he comply with the Governors Ex. Orders? His job requires him to obtain signatures from customers. What are his options? Any other members having similar issues? Send me an email which will remain confidential unless you advise otherwise.

        SBA LOAN PROGRAMS FOR SMALL BUSINESSES
    by Hilary Barnes, ABATE Legal Lawyer

        Own a small business and wonder how to make it through these tough times? The SBA has a couple loan programs that may be right for your business. The first is the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), and the second is the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL). Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)

        This loan covers payroll and approved operating expenses. No collateral is required and the loan is up to 100% forgivable with approval. The amount of loan is determined by taking the average monthly payroll for the prior twelve months and multiplying it by 2.5. Interest rate on the note is .5% on any unforgiven portion on a 2-year fixed note with no payments for the first 6 months. This loan applies to all for-profits and to private non-profits. Applicants may apply at any SBA approved bank.

        Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL)

        This loan covers needed working capital. No collateral required on loans under $25,000, and SBA will take the best lien available (excluding real estate) on loans over $25,000. This loan is not eligible for forgiveness, meaning the loan must be repaid. The loan amount is up to 6 months of operating expenses not to exceed $2 million. The interest rate is 3.75% for small businesses and 2.75% for non-profits, on a 30-year fixed note. There are no payments for the first 12 months. Eligible entities include sole proprietors, LLC's, & corporations, small agriculture coops and aquaculture, and private non-profits. Applicants may apply at SBA.GOV/DISASTER. More information on these loans may be found on the SBA website at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/.

        Another helpful resource is America's Small Business Development Centers at https://americassbdc.org/coronavirus-information/. America's Small Business Development Centers is a taxpayer funded partner of the SBA and offers consultations with businesses and nonprofits to help determine their best path forward. Small businesses should definitely take advantage of the specialized resources ASBDC has to offer.

        BILL HOWARD, FORMER INVESTIGATOR FOR ABATE LEGAL DIES IN FLA.

        I wrote the following note about Bill when he stopped by the ABATE LEGAL office. We offer our condolences to his family. He will be missed. (written a few years ago)

        REMEMBER BILL HOWARD OF ABATE LEGAL? LIFE IS GOOD FOR HIM

        It's been almost ten years since Bill hung up his ABATE LEGAL investigators spurs and headed off to Florida. Many remember him as the tough talking insurance claims manager that jumped ship to come over to our side, and right his past wrongs on the insurance side of life. Bill stopped by ABATE LEGAL to check on us. He has not rusted out, is tough as ever and retirement treats him well. He misses the passion of ABATE. But his fire has been transferred to golf, grand kids and go-kart fast lawn mowers. A couple of operations got him fired from motorcycling. He says, "never say never", but his doctor and wife may. If you get to Florida, give him a call as he would like to hear from you.
    (Bill, Rest in Peace)

        ANATOMY OF A SLIP AND FALL CASE

        An ABATE OF ILLINOIS member stayed at a local chain hotel. He is a good customer and would be returning in a couple of weeks. His job as a project engineer takes him all over the U.S., but he is originally from Flora, Illinois, and regularly reads this column. He is a stand tall, pays his bills, supports his family, voter, never been sued or ever sued anyone kind of guy, and a pretty good pool player. And he needed some help from ABATE LEGAL.

        Here is the problem. He was seriously injured in a fall at this hotel. I reminded him that slip and fall cases are tough in the Midwest. There is a general finding among most juries that you should watch where you are going. So unless you are elderly, impaired/disabled, or the little old lady with grey hair that slips on the long laying bing cherry in the produce department, those cases have to be perfectly presented with all of the evidence to the cause of the fall.

        For example, being able to prove the coefficient of friction caused by the contaminant on the floor. You need the incident report with video - they should always have a video. When I first started my practice, I defended slip and fall cases for big companies. I never lost a case and I wasn't that good. So I remember how tough they can be to win for an injured party.

        In early December, he was leaving the Inn, minding his own business, watching where he was going and slipped on the wet tile at the exit door, all the while wearing Wolverine boots with one of the best non slip soles God ever made. (Defendants always hone in on the shoes the plaintiff was wearing.) Partially catching himself in the fall, Scott injured himself and tore an expensive leather coat. The staff at the hotel quickly placed a weather mat at the entry of the hotel to take care of the slippery nature of the tile. ADMISSION NUMBER ONE.
        There was also a video camera at the entrance area proving the problem. ADMISSION NUMBER TWO.
        After the treating doc examined him, a prescription for pain pills was given and he went about his way. Hopefully he just got shot at and missed and would be ok in a few. He communicated this medical info to the folks at the hotel and they promised that they would get with him regarding his medical bills and damaged coat..... over a month passed. ADMISSION NUMBER THREE.

        After getting no response from the Inn, he called ABATE LEGAL as he suspected they were ignoring him. Even though we do not usually handle slip and fall cases, we wanted to assist our fellow ABATE member. In today's world many companies pass their responsibilities to companies with names like "risk pool managers, risk assessment evaluators, risk adjustment bureaus" etc. You get the idea. Just like in a John Wayne movie, "they went that away". My experience is that delay, avoidance and the like are part of the strategy, "if we don't call them back maybe THEY will go away and we don't have to pay THEM", "Let's make it too hard to deal with us". Hopefully that will not be the case with this hotel, but we shall see.

        Scott is a straight shooter and only wants to be reimbursed for his losses. He has read my previous article on signing releases and so he knows that nothing should be signed that would waive any right to claims he may have for permanent injuries. He needs to continue with his medical treatment to make sure that his problems are not permanent and that he will not need surgery in the future. Nothing worse than having signed a full and complete release for a few hundred bucks, only to find out a couple of months later that you need shoulder surgery and may not be able to do your job, or worse.

        Meanwhile, Scott will copy me on all correspondence to the hotel and their "risk pool manager".

        Hopefully that will help; and hopefully his injuries are temporary; and hopefully the hotel will do the right thing. We are prepared to help him to the next step because it is the right thing to do. And he wants his experience published so that others can benefit from his efforts. Remember that America is one of the safest countries in the world according to my theory. First, we don't want to get hurt ourselves. Second, we don't want to hurt others, and finally, if you have to pay for what you break you are that much more careful. It is that simple.

        BIKE THEFT COVERAGE   BIG CHAIN, BAD DOG NEEDED

        Q. My husband had a bad crash on his motorcycle, and is recovering. The insurance company has agreed to pay us for the damage to his bike and will allow us to keep it less the salvage value. We are paying a fair price for a wrecked bike (salvage) and can fix it for a reasonable amount. Is that normal for an insurance company to do that? Also, the insurance premium is due soon. Is it ok to cancel the policy? Is there any downside to canceling? We need to save all the dollars we can until my husband recovers from his injuries and gets back to work, but we do not want to jeopardize the settlement funds and the deal for the bike. Rod, we need your advice.
    ABATE member

        A. Most insurance companies allow their insureds to "buy" the salvage, so buying the salvage is routine. This means that when a company totals your motorcycle, they are obligated to pay you the "value" of the motorcycle. At that point, the insurance company owns the wrecked and totaled motorcycle (salvage). You then can negotiate with your insurance company as to the value of the salvage. If you are mechanically inclined, this may be an opportunity to get a "good deal" if the motorcycle is repairable. The insurance company will deduct this salvage amount from the value of your motorcycle and send you a check for the balance.

        As to your other question, you can cancel your policy and it will not affect your motorcycle settlement or the other obligations of the policy in effect at the time of the crash. The greater portion of the premium you pay on your policy goes toward liability coverage for the other person if you are involved in a crash. Since your bike is not road-worthy, that part of the coverage is a waste. However, your policy does have theft coverage and you will lose that coverage when you cancel. Check with your homeowner's/renter's insurance company to see if they will provide theft coverage for the bike since it may be considered personal property and not a "vehicle." If they say "yes," send a confirming email to them with a cc to RodTaylor@ABATELEGAL.COM Some policies provide coverage for a stored bike in damaged condition, some don't. If you do not have theft coverage, get a big chain and a bad dog because your kind of bike is a theft target.

        WHERE THERE'S A WAY, THERE SHOULD BE A WILL, AND YOU DON'T HAVE TO LEAVE HOME TO MAKE ONE AT ABATE LEGAL

        Q. I want to do my will, but I'm not sure what I should put in it or what I need to consider when I'm doing my will.

        A. Anybody who's ever heard me speak at one of the state seminars knows that I think everybody should have a will. They don't have to be complex, and they don't have to be expensive. We do wills for ABATE members for free! When you are ready to make a will, there are several things to think about:

  • Who should receive my property?
  • Who should take care of my minor children?
  • Do I need to create a trust for my spouse or minor/adult children?
  • Do I want to make any charitable gifts?
  • Should my life insurance go to a trustee or directly to the beneficiaries?
  • Who do I want to administer my will?
  • What about taxes?

        If you already have a will, you should review it to make sure it is up to date and reflects changes in your marital status or changes in the beneficiaries you named.

        And by the way, there are several requirements that must be met to ensure that the will is valid. In general, the will has to be made by a person 18 and of sound mind and memory. Also, it must be in writing, signed by the maker, and witnessed (with signatures) of two disinterested persons (not anyone who would benefit from or is named in the will). Upon the death of the person who made the will, it is presented to the court, who will make sure it is valid and provide appropriate orders to make sure the instructions are carried out.

        If you don't have will, or want to make changes to your will, call ABATE LEGAL SERVICES. We will do your will for you, free of charge, as part of your membership benefits!

        ROAD HAZARD REPORT
    by Brian Shadiow, ABATE Legal Investigator

        In late March we received notice of a road hazard from Janice, an Illinois ABATE Member. She contacted us with concerns over a bridge that was being repaired in her area. While we receive numerous road hazard submissions, this is one of the first times we have received one for an area that was currently under construction for repair. It seems that this bridge was over 60 years old and had deteriorated badly. The bridge, now under repair, had been closed down to just the southbound lane for traffic, in order to start repairs on the northbound lane. The problem is that the southbound lane was in extremely poor condition, made up of almost nothing but small potholes throughout the entire lane. A few holes were so bad that the state laid down a board or road plate over them. Janice's concern was that this bridge was not only bad, but it was getting worse now that all of the traffic was reduced to just one lane. And it was early, the state had only just started construction on this bridge and it was nearly unnavigable. Well, long story short, Janice took a video of her traveling over the bridge which clearly showed the poor condition and disrepair. We were able to forward this, and other information she provided throughout our emails, to the IDOT engineer overseeing this area. With Janice's detail and good work, she helped get those potholes filled - and the state even added a layer of blacktop to the entire southbound lane.
    Thanks for helping to keep our roads safe Janice!

        Ride Safe & Free,
        Rod Taylor
        ABATE Legal Services
        www.abatelegal.com

        All questions from ABATE members are answered confidentially unless otherwise authorized and only after the matter is concluded, except when authorization for publication anonymously or otherwise is given for pending matters. Remember, injured ABATE members pay only 28 ½% of total recovery motorcycle crash cases, and expenses as approved by the client. Elsewhere, you may pay 33 ⅓%, 40% or even 50% of your recovery. In those cases, ABATE members are not charged for recovery of damage to their motorcycle, and have access to a 24-hour toll-free telephone number. Call us at 1-(800)-25-RIDER. Questions? Submit them to: RodTaylor@abatelegal.com. © 2020.