Ask Our Lawyer – July 2018

Ask Our Lawyer

by Rod Taylor – ABATE Legal Services

 RULES TO FOLLOW ON AN ESCORTED CHARITY RIDE

  1. Escorted?  How do you know?  Many rides claim to be escorted but they are not.        Attend the safety briefing and ask the tough questions or better yet send the ride organizer an email requesting details.  In many states only authorized officers have the power to stop traffic and otherwise lead a ride.  Don’t go on any ride that is not professionally escorted.
  2. Know the motorcyclists around you on the ride. If the bike next to you is new with low mileage, you may be riding with a newby – not good.  Learn about him when you are waiting for the ride to start.  If the rider is a newby,  ride next to someone who isn’t.
  3. Leave extra distance between you and the rider in front, so you can see the potholes from hell and the unrepaired railroad crossing. And get ready to make a lane change if necessary.  Always have a clear lane to go.
  4. And if you don’t like the escorters and the speeds they are using – bolt. That way there is always next year.

 

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 impound 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 of Illinois 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.

 

CAN MY EMPLOYER DO THAT? BIKE SHOP BLUES.

Q: I’m a mechanic in a local bike shop, and my employer recently told me I need to sign an agreement that I won’t work for another shop within a ten mile radius if I leave my current job. I don’t think that’s fair. There are a number of bike shops around here, and almost all of them are within ten miles from my current employer. Can they really enforce that agreement against me?

A:Probably. What they have asked you to sign is called a non-compete agreement. It used to be that non-compete agreements were used only with managers or sales personnel. However, they are becoming more common with service personnel who develop relationships with customers and entice customers to follow them if they move to a new employer.

Even though non-compete agreements are not favored by the law, if they follow the rules, those agreements are generally enforceable, provided the employer can show a reasonable belief that a departing employee could create unfair competition. However, non-compete agreements have to be reasonable in their restrictions. They can restrict a person from working in the same field, but only for a reasonable time period or within a reasonable distance from the employer’s service area.

If your employer makes it a condition of your employment and you work in an “employment-at-will” state, you may have no choice but to sign the agreement if you want to keep working there. If you sign the agreement and leave the job later, the employer can ask a court to prevent you from working for a competitor. If the court finds that the agreement contains reasonable restrictions, and doesn’t unfairly limit your rights to find a new job, the court could enter an order preventing you from working for the competitor or assess damages against you.

WHERE THERE’S A WILL, THERE’S A WAY

 Want to remember your favorite motorcycle rights organization? When you make out your will, you can include some support for your favorite MRO. Whether it’s your state ABATE organization, the MRF, or some other MRO, your support in your will ensures that your love of motorcycling is carried on. Whether you leave $100.00 or $1,000.00 or just your favorite bike, you help ensure the future of motorcycling. Your ABATE Legal Services team can help you. Remember, one of the services for ABATE members is a free will from ABATE Legal Services. Call or email today to get started.

 

ROADHAZARD.ORG – JUST LIKE LUCY AND ETHEL IN THE BON-BON LINE

 Q:How is the RoadHazard.org site doing? Do you get any responses from the agencies you contact?

A:You would be surprised. I’d have to say that RoadHazard.org is an unqualified success. We receive many follow-up letters and comments from both local government offices and from the person who made the original notification.

Many times, the government representatives thank us for bringing the problems to their attention so that they can fix it. RoadHazard.org is a valuable service to both riders and road crews! Sometimes its like that scene when Lucy and Ethel are working in the candy factory putting bon-bons in boxes. Recall that when they can’t keep up, they start eating them. That’s us at RoadHazard.org sometimes.It seems to me that it’s time to bring RoadHazard.org to next level. I have always envisioned RoadHazard.org as being a national program, coordinating information and notifying the proper authoritiesacross the US. As proof of concept, RoadHazard.org has worked well in Illinois, Indiana and Ohio, and there is no reason to think that it would not work nationally.

Many other states are already contacting us. What is needed, however, is some group that has the manpower and resources to make it work on a national level. We are in the process of identifying and contacting national organizations who would be interested in staffing and running an expanded RoadHazard.org. I’ll keep you advised of any developments as they occur. As always, keep those notices coming!

The following has been submitted through the RoadHazard.org

From Rodney Diercks, Randolph County, Chester, Illinois

I was traveling west on a state road or highway and the name of the road I was on is Rt. 150/State St. The nearest crossroad is Stacey St. The hazard I encountered is uneven pavement. Details – there’s excessive coal truck traffic in Randolph County, resulting in extreme road destruction! I feel the state of IL. is negligent about proper repairs. The hazard is that the whole lane is very dangerous Westbound!!! I pulled or tore right hamstring requiring ER visit at Chester hospital and Dr. visit at Red Bud, IL. I also have photo of my leg. The majority of Rt.150 & Rt.3 in Randolph County is an extreme public safety issue for all bikers! PLEASE HELP -THANK YOU!

This is an example of a report that we received today and that we are working on to get fixed:

IS IT A-BATE, a-BATE OR UH-BATE?

 Q:We were at a region meeting the other day and the conversation turned to ABATE. Specifically, we were trying to figure out the correct pronunciation of “ABATE.” Do you have any thoughts?

A:To tell the truth, I’ve always wondered about that myself. As I found out when I did the column on what the letters of ABATE stand for, there appear to be as many “official” pronunciations as there are ways to say ABATE. I heard three different pronunciations: A-bate, aBATE, and UH-bate.

However, no matter how you pronounce it, it means brotherhood and community. Take your choice – it’s a Mason-Dixon/north-south kind of thing. My poll says that if you’re south of I-70, you say A-bate; if you are north of I-70, you say uh-BATE, and if you are a pure Yankee blue blood, you say a-BATE.

Ride Safe & Free,

 Rod Taylor

ABATE Legal Services

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, and expenses as approved by client. Elsewhere, you may pay 33 ⅓%, 40% or even 50% of your recovery. ABATE members are not charged for recovery of damage to your 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  © 2018.

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Ask Our Lawyer – June 2018

Ask Our Lawyer

by Rod Taylor – ABATE Legal Services

LOSING YOUR RIDING NERVE? LIES, DAMNED LIES, AND STATISTICS

As the old saying goes, never confuse fear with respect for your motorcycle. Some have said to me, “Rod, I am wondering if I should continue to ride? I am getting older and have had some good times. Is riding over for me”? I know they have heard the mantra that riding will make you feel more alive that a car etc. But in the corner of their mind are statistics. Here is what I say back to them and Mark Twain said it best. “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”

Statistics don’t take into account careless riding and/or not riding within the legal limit of alcohol (don’t). And those same statistics don’t look hard at day versus night riding, riding in adverse weather, perfect tire maintenance and exacting adherence to speed limits. I have a saying that riding in Florida at night when the elders are out may be hazardous to your health, so ride after they go to bed as many of them can’t see or hear. And statistics don’t list those motorcyclists that always

1. Assume the car coming toward them will fail to yield and turn left in front of them.

2. Assume that the car at the stop sign to his right is going fail to yield when he has the right of way. I say that if you load the stats with the above, you are as safe as in a car.

Those are my statistics and I am sticking to them. So, get your nerve back and ride.

WHEN HAS MY MOTORCYCLE TIRE TREAD WORN OUT ITS WELCOME? RICKCHUPP/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 in 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 paper-thin 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 these forces, including gravity and friction, are competing for control of your bike, you lose. The point is 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 – 5 year period), I would replace the tires.

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.

Getting Stopped on the Road

Q: Recently, I was pulled over by the state patrol, and was ticketed for not having a motorcycle endorsement. I asked the patrolman why he stopped me, and if I was doing something wrong. He said no, he was stopping motorcycles, checking for licenses. He said that he didn’t see anything wrong with my riding. My question is, can he pull me over for no reason?

A: No. This kind of selective violation of our Fourth Amendment rights is why we need lawyers. In general, in order to stop a motor vehicle, an officer must have reasonable suspicion that a public offense is occurring or has occurred. There are many legitimate reasons for such a stop which include, but are not limited to suspicious activity, traffic violations, and equipment violations. Although it may surprise some of our more confused public safety officers, riding a motorcycle does NOT constitute a reasonable suspicion that a public offense is occurring. I believe that the officer overstepped his bounds in stopping you, and had you been ticketed, that you would have had a legitimate chance to have the case dismissed. ABATE OF ILLINOIS MEMBER

Celebrating the Founding Members of ABATE by Featuring Their Lives

This Month: When “Big Chuck” Williams Speaks…

Charles “Big Chuck” is a good friend of mine. I’ve known him for over three decades. “Big Chuck” has been a member of the MRF for over four decades and owns ABATE OF INDIANA number 11. He has held just about every job that you can have in ABATE. He loves to tell the story of being signed up in ABATE by Jim Humphries, a bouncer in a bar when the membership application was done on the back of a napkin. Chuck is in the plumbing, sewer, and septic business and has been for a while. He is also the best friend that any could have. He has experienced life to the fullest. During one of his sojourns around the country Big Chuck wound up in Nashville as a wanna-be country music star, Los Angeles as a bouncer, Montana as a cook. He tells the story of him and his girlfriend being stranded in Helena Montana without money or jobs. He signed her up for a waitress job, but part of the deal was she had to wash the dishes of her customers. She objected to the dishwashing part so Big Chuck was her new dishwashing co-pilot. Then one day the cook failed to show up. It is what he calls working your way up in life. Guess who the new cook was? Ever since I have branded him as a world class chef. Along the way, he has been a carpenter, security guard, dry cleaner, hog farmer, band member, and singer. On that note he reminds me of Mel Tillis in that he sings like Pavarotti, but like Mel, speaks in labored sentences. Some say that he has a speech difficulty; I don’t notice anymore.

The point of my telling you all of this is the following: I saw him rise to speak at the MRFMeeting of the Minds in Lancaster, Pennsylvania a few decades back. The previous speaker had been rambling on about something that none of us remember, but when “Big Chuck rose to the occasion by giving us his thoughts, we heard every word that he had to say that day.

One final comment. At an ABATE meeting one Saturday, we all rose to pledge allegiance. I stood near “Big Chuck.” He pledged his allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America in perfect prose – near perfect iambic pentameter and never missed a beat. I had never heard “Big Chuck” speak so perfectly before, but he did so on that Saturday. Many of us just go through the motions, but not “Big Chuck.” Every word means something to him. That was the most memorable Pledge of Allegiance I ever heard.

Harassing Witness in Divorce Case

Q: I have been the subject of false 911 calls alleging erratic driving and saying that I may beintoxicated. I believe the root of the problem is that I am a witness in favor of the husband in a

divorce case. The wife is the caller. What can I do?

A: Immediately report this occurrence to the court. All states have laws prohibiting witness harassment. This activity clearly fits within that category. Always get the name and badge number of the police officer and make book on the false stops with a simple email detailing the false stop. If the wife can be identified through records, she can be prosecuted. ABATE OF OHIO MEMBER

RELAX AMERICAN MOTORCYCLE HAND SIGNALS AND ENGLISH WINS

Q. I see that the U.S. Senate failed to pass the bill to make English our official language many times. Why can’t Congress pass a law making English our official language? ABATE OF ILLINOIS MEMBER

A. As you may know, many bills have been introduced to do just that. All have failed to pass. Interestingly, Illinois and Indiana have passed state laws making English its official language. Your question centers on a fear in this country that English is losing ground here and around the world. There are those who fear that Chinese will dominate the internet or that this country will become bilingual like Canada – kinda-sorta.With that in mind, I did research. Here is what I found. The fastest Chinese-language typist in the world can only muster about 10 words per minute on a keyboard. They use symbols so the keyboard has to be the width of two ping pong tables and their language can not be alphabetized (there has been some attempt to computerize the problem). Computers have helped the Chinese sum. Try Googling with Chinese. The Japanese fair little better. They have the same symbol limitation, but their keyboard is only the width of one ping pong table. Score one for English. Get this: one the most recognized faces in China is a British lady that teaches English to an estimated 60 million Chinese on a television learning channel. While I am sure there are many, I do not know a single American that is learning Chinese, certainly not 60 million of us. It is estimated that less than half of the Americans are learning to speak German today than in my generation. Why? It is not needed anymore. Almost everyone speaks English, and more of the world is learning it every day. It is truly the language of the world. Guess what language is used by air traffic controllers in all countries [even though the French controllers gripe about it and favor French speaking pilots]? Pilot speak is pure American. And motorcycle hand signals are universal around the world. These were developed at the turn of the last century by American motorcyclists. And no country has challenged motorcycle hand signalsstarted in the U.S.

As to the French, they have an entire clearing board of language purists to make sure that French stays French – no foreign words allowed. It is working. And soon French will be for the French only. No wonder fewer students are taking French in this country than ever. I took four years of it in college – waste of time for me. And even if you do, here is what you get: the French have only one word for hide and skin. Try going home tonight and telling your significant other that she has lovely hide, and if you do say it in French.

Unlike French, English has no one to guard the entry of new words into our language. For example, it is estimated that English has pirated over ten thousand Spanish words and made them English. The Rand Corporation did a study a few years back about our Spanish speaking residents in this country. In the first generation, their children spoke English and Spanish. In the next generation only half were bilingual, the rest spoke only English. The same can be said for the Vietnamese and other southeast Asians coming to and thriving in this country. Whether the world likes it or not, English has become the language of the world. While language differences are interesting, it is the perfection of communication that is occurring. I say let us relax and enjoy our cultural and language differences while they last. Mark it down: English has won the war of language competition and our motorcycle hand signals are here to stay.

Dead man talking?

Q: My father just died, and as 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?  ABATE OF INDIANA MEMBER

A: 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 & Free,

Rod Taylor

ABATE Legal Services

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 .% of total recovery, and expenses as approved by client. Elsewhere, you may pay 33 ⅓%, 40% or even 50% of your recovery. ABATE members are not charged for recovery of damage to your 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 © 2018.

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Ask Our Lawyer August 2016

Ask Our Lawyer

by Rod Taylor – ABATE Legal Services

GARY SELLERS’ TIRE DOES NOT WORK WELL WITH ACID

Long time ABATE member and a mover and shaker with the MRF shares his tire acid story with us.  On May 25, Gary was riding on one of Ohio’s finest when he encountered a freshly Micro-Sealed road.  What happened next is troubling.  As he rolled into his garage he noticed that the tire was disintegrating – to such an extent that his motorcycle was un-ridable.  A friend examined evidence of his ride through the seal application and concluded that the tire was destroyed by contact with acid.  How can that be?  Well the Material Safety Data Sheets of the sealant used disclosed that potent acids are used.  Enough in Gary’s case to destroy his front tire almost as he watched.  What had happened?  Too much acid?  Improper mixture?  Improper spreading equipment?  Since the incident, the construction company that applied the Micro-Seal has offered to replace the tire.  Gary kept the damaged tire in case someone – anyone, wanted to examine the tire.  Significantly, Gary has had no takers – from anyone.  Do they know something we don’t?

If you have had a similar experience, please tell us about it.  Stay tuned for Chapter 2.

 

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 veteran’s 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 do not 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 COURT HOUSE 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. 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. MAPQUEST TAKES THE RESPONSIBILITY 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 home owners 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.

 

WHEN A MOTORCYCLIST CAN RUN A RED LIGHT – AFTER 2 MINUTES OR TWO CYCLES?

Q. We have a stop light in our neighborhood that will not trip with a motorcycle. I have been doing a series of turns to avoid “running the light.” We also have a strict police officer in our area. Can I run the light if it will not trip, as doing the series of turns is not practical during rush hour? If I get a ticket, do I have a legal defense to the court? – ABATE of Ohio Member

A. We have received many similar questions over the years from motorcyclists that have have experienced a defective traffic sensing device while on their motorcycle. The law should not penalize anyone that is confronted with defective traffic signal equipment. Even the Magna Carta addressed the right to be free from unreasonable restraints of travel. This right is one of our most basic of rights and a defective signal device is an unreasonable restraint on our right to travel free and unfettered. My stock answer to a question of what to do in those situations of a defective signal is as follows: 1. Move over the sensor with your engine area and try disrupting the “Hall Effect.” That is the name of the signal field. Sometimes a magnet on your bike will help with disrupting the signal. 2. If that does not work, count through two cycles. The standard cycle is 60 seconds, SO OUR STANDARD IS 2 MINUTES. After two cycles, look for cops and if you do not see any — go cautiously through the intersection. Sounds simple, but what if you do get a ticket? Go back to the signal and see if you can duplicate your troubles to a witness. Time the actual cycle so you can give an accurate estimate of the time you waited through two cycles. Take that witness to court or better yet, visit the prosecutor with your evidence and request that he dismiss the charges. Pass the 2 minute standard on to your friends. This 2 minute standard has been passed by 16 states so far in the form of HB 1080.

 

PREVIOUS ADVICE FROM JAY – RED LIGHTS: DEAD TO THE RIGHT OR DEAD TO THE LEFT?

This question and answer comes courtesy of Jay Jackson, Executive Director of ABATE of Indiana:

Q. Do you know what Indiana’s stance is on the left on red is when the traffic sensor doesn’t work? I was on my bike the other day and the sensor didn’t detect me. After waiting through at least two cycles, I turned left on the red and got stopped by a cop. Is there a law that lets bikes turn left on red when the sensor doesn’t work? Or have I just heard it is generally acceptable?

– ABATE of Indiana Member

A. In 2014, Indiana passed House Bill 1080 otherwise known as the “Dead Red” law (IC 9-21-3-7(b)(3)(D). The provisions of this law allow you to wait for a period of 2 minutes, then proceed with caution treating the traffic control signal as a stop sign. If you end up getting pulled over even after adhering to the above code, you may revert to the above article for fighting a ticket referring to House Bill 1080. If you are in Ohio, Illinois or a state that has not yet passed the “Dead Red” law, please refer to the previous article.

 

CHIP AND SEAL – NOT A FRIEND TO BIKES 

Q. I live in Indiana. They just put down chip and seal pavement on the road near my house. It is a slippery mess and very dangerous to ride a motorcycle on. I called the Supervisor at INDOT to complain about there being no warning signs. This surface is hard on paint from the rocks being thrown. It is like trying to ride on marbles with a bike and I almost lost control of my truck going around a curve. Is there anything that ABATE can do about this junk being put down on state roads?

– ABATE of Indiana Member

A. Steven, our office has been in contact with the officials having jurisdiction over this state road. Chip and seal is not a friend of any vehicle, much less a two wheeler. If chip and seal is used, warning signs are a must for the traveling public. We have had some bad mishaps with chip and seal in both Ohio and Illinois. We have requested a formal response from Indiana, Illinois and Ohio regarding the procedures to be used by highway contractors when chip and seal is applied. I have requested ABATE lawyer George Tinkham, formerly a lawyer for the Illinois Department of Transportation, to weigh in on this one as well.

 

INSURANCE WOES FOR A MOTORCYCLE SHOP

Q. I’m looking for some advice on insurance and I’m reaching out to you as an ABATE Region 1 member. I’m trying to start a small, one-man motorcycle service and repair shop in northern Indiana. I’m getting quotes on insurance that are all over the board, so to speak.  I’ve had one for $3 grand that is quite comprehensive (and not affordable) and another for half that with garage liability and garage keepers included.  I don’t expect you to be an insurance professional, but should I not be covered for things like personal injury due to my negligence? What I mean is, say I work on a guy’s bike, putting on a back tire and rear brake pads. He leaves my shop and two days later is injured. They blame me for my brake job and sues.  Would the general “garage liability” policy cover that? Or would I need an additional E&O coverage?  The agents I’ve talked to seem to be unclear on the coverage I am wanting.  – Scott Wickens, ABATE of Indiana Member

A. Scott, get quotes in writing from the agents. Remember to expressly set out in an email the questions you asked me. Some agents try to get off the hook by saying everything is in the policy.  But don’t let them.  Ask your specific questions in a 1,2,3 etc format and get an answer.  And get a response in WRITING (EMAIL).  Remember that it may not count if you do not get a written response.  It is then a he said – she said deal.   If they won’t reply by email , and some won’t, move on.  As a matter of principle I will not do business with an insurance agent that does not do business by email.  It usually means they are hiding from something and do not want to be called out on a representation they have made to you verbally.

 

Ride Safe & Free,

 

Rod Taylor

ABATE Legal Services

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 and expenses as approved by client, consistent with and conforming to applicable state law. Elsewhere, you may pay 33 ⅓%, 40% or even 50% of your recovery. ABATE members are not charged for recovery of damage to your 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  © 2016.

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Ask Our Lawyer July 2016

 

RETREADS – ALLIGATOR ALLEY – OBSERVATIONS OF A MOTORCYCLIST

Q.  Over the years we have received many questions from ABATE members inquiring as to the safety of “retread” truck tires. Some of us have had to dodge retread tire materials and have narrowly avoided crashes.  Interestingly in the age of almost perfect communication, retreads seemingly have missed scrutiny.  Is it because the problem is only a motorcyclist problem?  What follows is our first stab at answering this question.

A.  Let’s get to the point. Are there safety issues with retread tires?  We have studied the problem and there are some  questions that just don’t add up.  So let’s start  our inquiry with information as to exactly what is a retread or capped tire.

The general definition is that a retread, also known as “recap,” or a “remold” is a remanufacturing process for tires that replaces the tread on worn tires.  Essentially retreading is a process that saves money by shaving down old tires to the casing and gluing on a new tread.  (Years ago I worked at General Tire in Indianapolis where we glued retreads to used casings.) Sound safe?   Some of us have witnessed a delaminating retread.  My experience was spectacular. The semi just ahead of me had a trailer tire delaminate at about 60 mph.   The tire delaminated violently and showered tire debris over me and my FLH.  I still have a crack in my windshield caused by tire shrapnel.  To avoid catastrophe  I slalomed around the larger chunks of tire material some of which was large enough to derail a motorcyclist.   I now collect photos of retread debris in an effort to shed light on a hazard to motorcyclists.

Now for the other side’s story – the retreaders.  According to Tire Retread & Repair Information Bureau aka TRIB, retread tires are a good deal and are safely used by trucking fleets and others all over the country.  But regulations disallow retreads in certain applications.  So why is it that retreads cannot be legally used on the steering axle of a bus if they are safe?  Some companies have a private policy of no retreads on a steering axle.  Why?  No one provides a clear answer to that one, but I have a pretty good guess.

IF retreads are truly safe then what about all the retread debris you see on the side of the highways aka – roadside alligators?  Most of us know those to be leftovers of a delaminated retread tire.  But the retread groups claim that the rubber pieces you see on the road come from both new “virgin” and retreaded tires in equal proportions to their usage on roads (They have not shared the data).   That claim does not fit with my past experience as a commercial truck driver.   Those lobbying groups claim to have additional studies indicating that the main cause of the roadside debris is from tires being improperly maintained, under/over inflated, road hazards, potholes, and driver operational error.   My experience begs to differ especially when I see long strips of retread materials along the roadway that have become unglued.

If retreads are a safety hazard, why do many trucking companies use retreads?  Is it because they are better and safer?  The real answer is: retreads are cheaper.  You can get a retread for 30-50 percent less than a new tire.  Retread supporters claim that retreading truck tires saves the trucking industry over $3 billion each year, but at what expense?

Let us know about your experiences.

 

GRASS CLIPPINGS – JUST LIKE GREASE TO MOTORCYCLE TIRES?

Q.  Is it illegal for people to blow their grass clippings onto the roads in Indiana? Thank you, Brian Russell – ABATE MEMBER.

A.  While no state law directly prohibits blowing grass clippings onto public roadways, there maybe city and county ordinances barring the practise. Keep in mind that grass clippings blown onto roads are not only an eyesore but also a hazard to motorcyclists. Engineers have calculated the coefficient of friction of fresh grass clippings – almost as slick as grease. So while you may not be in violation of a law, you may have created a condition that could cause you to be liable for injuries caused  by your clippings.  Here is why.

Lawsuits have been filed against property owners claiming that covering the roadway with grass clippings creates a dangerous situation.   Especially dangerous are wet grass clippings.  Some say they are akin to riding over a sheet of ice.  And a swirling vortex of grass in the eyes creates its own problem, especially if you are a motorcyclist.  A lawsuit filed in Plainfield, IL by a woman passenger on a motorcycle claims the motorcyclist lost control after they hit a patch of grass clippings blown into the street by a homeowner.  The passenger sued the homeowner for negligence.  See the attached case. http://patch.com/illinois/joliet/plainfield-woman-injured-motorcycle-wreck-claims-discarded-grass-clippings-caused-crash-lawsuit

So even if no city or county ordinance bars the practise of blowing grass clippings onto the road, the lawyers will be waiting for you if you do and someone is injured.   I can almost guarantee that you will get sued if a motorcyclist is injured because of your grass clippings.

 

UNINTENTIONAL BRIBE FROM A MOTORCYCLIST?

Q.  While riding my motorcycle, I got a ticket in northern Michigan. The cop asked for a cash payment of $50.00 on the spot. When I informed the officer that I didn’t have $50.00 cash, the cop asked if I had any money at all. I only had a couple of bucks with me, so the cop took my license and told me I would get the license back after the ticket was paid. I think that sounds bogus. Have you heard of this? ABATE MEMBER.

A.  Surprisingly, that’s the law. Most states are members of an interstate compact for enforcement of traffic tickets. That is fancy lawyer talk for let’s collect more money for the state. If you don’t appear in court and pay the fine, your home state will be notified and will suspend your license until you deal with the out-of-state ticket. The Driver License Compact (DLC) also provides that the home state treat the offense as if it had been committed in your state, applying your state laws to the out-of-state offense. The action taken includes points assessed on a minor offense such as speeding and suspension of license or a major violation such as DWI/DUI. Not included are non-moving violations like parking tickets, tinted windows, loud exhaust, etc. All states are members except for Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Tennessee. Nevada repealed the authorizing legislation, though it still generally conforms to the agreement through regulations.

Even though Michigan is not a member of the interstate compact, the officer is authorized to receive from the alleged offender a cash bond to secure the appearance in court to answer for the ticket. If the offender cannot post the bond (in cash, on the roadside) the officer is empowered to retain the offender’s license to guarantee appearance. The cash bond cannot exceed $100.00. The officer must then issue a receipt for this payment and the cash bond will be returned after the ticket is satisfied.  Payment of the bond is not an admission of the offense, and you are free to return to the county of the infraction to contest the ticket at the time of the scheduled hearing.  Some officers will even accompany you to the nearest U.S. Postal Box and mail the bond and in some cases the fine.

I got a speeding ticket in Southern Illinois once and had the cash for the fine, which I gave to the officer per his request.  I was then directed to follow the officer to the nearest mailbox while he allegedly put my cash into an envelope and mailed the fine.  But the cynical me always wondered, did he really put my cash in the envelope? I will never know.  Interestingly, no points were ever put on my record – hmmm.

 

ROADHAZARD.ORG – WINTER REPAIR, ROADS AND MORE ROADS

 

With the winter behind us we are starting to see our roadways under repair. Thankfully the mild winter was  nice to us this year, but there are still areas that need to be reported to our local Street Departments and action centers.  Please take the time to report these hazards to RoadHazard.org and we will do all the legwork. We have been receiving feedback that the distressed areas we report are generally fixed within a two week time period.  Do yourself and your fellow riders a favor and report any roadway, intersection, transition, bridge etc. you deem unsafe or hazardous to RoadHazard.org and let us help us help you.

 

Ride Safe & Free,

 

Rod Taylor

ABATE Legal Services

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 and expenses as approved by client, consistent with and conforming to applicable state law. Elsewhere, you may pay 33 ⅓%, 40% or even 50% of your recovery. ABATE members are not charged for recovery of damage to your 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  © 2016.

 

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Ask Our Lawyer March 2016

Ask Our Lawyer

by Rod Taylor – ABATE Legal Services

 

COULD ISAAC NEWTON HAVE BEEN WRONG? TRAVELING UPHILL ON YOUR HARLEY IN NEUTRAL

 

I constantly find myself searching for a new riding experience and recently found one from my collection good enough to share.  On one of those wonderful warm early winter days this year that begs you to ride, I headed off to Mooresville Indiana in search of Gravity Hill on my side/hack shovel.  Heard about it for years, but just couldn’t believe the tale.  Namely that you can put your bike in neutral and it will roll uphill.  No way and dubious all the way there as I am an Isaac Newton disciple.  How can you put your motorcycle in neutral and watch it coast uphill without power?  I did and so can you.  It is an amusing and confusing experience. (to get there MapQuest 705 Keller Hill Road Mooresville In.)  Here is what I did.  I followed IN 42 out of Mooresville until I hit Keller Hill Road, just a few outside of town.  I turned onto Keller Hill Road and traveled a ways; stopped and put my shovel into neutral.  And then it happened – I actually started rolling backwards – uphill.  Uncomfortable with that I did a U-turn and tried going uphill with no power facing forward.  Slowly at first, but then faster and faster getting  up to 20 mph before I got back to IN 42 .  Like a little kid I did it over and over till I had to get back to the office.  Isaac should be scratching his head on that one!

 

 

 AVOID GETTING CUT OUT OF THE PARENT’S WILL AND BEING A GOOD CHILD

 

Rod,

Always enjoy reading your column in the state Abate paper, always my favorite part to read. I read the Q & A on “Being nice for a reason” in the January 2016 abate news and have a suggestion. Instead of waiting until the parent dies and challenging the will;

 

  • why not call the parent once every week to see how they are doing, if they need something, or just want to talk with their child. At some point you could even discuss the will.
  • if the parent resides far away, spend your vacation time from work visiting the parent. Let them know you are coming, plan outings or plan for work that needs to be done around the house. Plan the vacation with major doctor appointments or hospital stays in mind. If they live close, visit every week.
  • if you are out of vacation days, use the Family Leave Act. You can stay a month or more helping Your parents, if you can afford to do this. These days you can manage or attend meetings via phone from anywhere. Bring your work notes with you and keep up by using the computer at the local library. Redundant tasks will get along with or without you. Almost anything can be done via the internet, so there are no excuses for not spending time with parents.
  • if you are not employed, tell the parent you want to come for a visit, to help them out with the above mentioned tasks, and ask if they can assist with the trip expenses. After spending time with the parent, believe me you will be discussing the parents finances and other end of life issues. this will give you a chance to discuss the will and how the family is involved.
  • finally, you help your parents out and communicate with them often because you love them. They took care of you when you could not take care of yourself.

 

Steven W. Farmer

Abate member since 1985  [From Rod –  Steven, wonderful advice to us all.]

 

DOGGONE DOG LAWS OR PINK PANTHER’S “IT IS NOT MY DOG DEFENSE” DOESN’T WORK IN SOME STATES

  1. Rod, while riding in Kentucky, out of nowhere a stray dog jumped in front of my bike. I went down hard, was injured and my bike sustained considerable damage. While waiting for medical attention, I learned that the local preacher was feeding and caring for the stray, but was not otherwise securing the dog. He made a big point of saying that he did not own the dog and denied legal responsibility (just like Peter Sellers did), but he did admit to feeding and caring for it. What is the law in this situation? ABATE MEMBER.
  2. Injuries caused by loose dogs are some of the more devastating – hence the reason that many states and counties have enacted laws/ordinances that protect the public. Many riders do not appreciate the dangers of loose dogs running into the path of a motorcycle. I didn’t until I got into the lawyering business. My technique of dog avoidance (then) was to speed around them or nudge them away with my boot – both are bad ideas. Isaac Newton is right, “whatever you hit” hit it as slow as possible. Here is what you can expect when you hit a dog, even at low speeds of 30 or 40 mph and God forbid you hit one at 50 or 60 mph. Your front tire instantly turns sideways even though you are traveling at lower speeds, and it does this – without a hint of warning, unless you are so good that you hit the dog – absolute dead center. And that almost never happens.  The usual collision causes your bike to go head over heals, with you somewhere in the mix. Not good. Most bikers that have not hit a dog assume that you just run over the top of the dog and go on. Not so, unless you’re that one in a thousand and happen to hit the dog with equal pressures on the front tire.

Laws have been enacted in many jurisdictions to protect the public from the dangers of stray dogs on roadways which include responsibility for feeding, caring for and otherwise harboring a stray dog. Even though the intentions are pure, once you undertake the care of a stray, there is a duty in many jurisdictions to make sure the dog does not run loose. In other words, if you start caring for a stray dog, you have to do it right and make sure that the stray you feed does not cause harm to others. Legally it becomes your dog to keep out of the public’s way. Interestingly, cats are off the hook in Illinois – must have had a good cat lobbyist.

Regulation 90.02 in Kentucky, 510 ILCS 5/2.16 in Illinois, Sec. 955.28 in Ohio and other similar laws around the country, defines the owner of an animal as one “who keeps or harbors an animal or dog, has it in his care, or permits it to remain on or about the premises owned or occupied by him ….” as such “is liable for all damages caused by such animal….” This is so even if a person just cared for the stray dog. No ownership is required. Common sense and lawmakers do not want folks harboring a dog without the legal responsibilities. Accordingly, most communities disallow the Pink Panther, “it’s not my dog defense.”

In searching for the law on responsibilities of “dog harborers” don’t stop with state laws (statutes). Counties in some states have enacted ordinances that provide legal responsibilities to the owner of the property, even where the dog is owned by a tenant.  It some states it is sufficient that the property owner knows that a dog is running loose and could be a problem. The idea is that the land owner has control of his property and can make sure the renter’s dog is secured.  Other states, like Indiana,  work hard to protect dog harborers and nearly require dog ownership before liability is imposed.

The good news is that in most cases, home/business insurance policies, provide coverage for your personal injury and property damage to your bike as a result of a loose dog. So if you get hurt by a dog when it runs out in front of you, and the person standing over you seems to know about the dog, I know a lawyer that knows all about your rights.

 

MOTORCYCLE POSTTRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER – ANOTHER STORY

A while back, I wrote a story about a good friend of mine who had a traumatic experience while riding and gave it up, which was stunning to me and his other fellow riders. Here is the story: while on his weekly ride, his good friend was killed by a couple of racing drivers. My friend is a guy that had more miles on a motorcycle than just about anyone I know – including me. I concluded that  more is going on with him than meets the eye. Motorcycling was his life. How could he quit and so suddenly? And what would cause such a drastic decision in his life?. Using the experiences of clients I have had over the years, I suspected the root of the evil was a form of posttraumatic stress disorder -( Dr. Taylor here). My experience is that many of these riders return to riding at some point in their lives, but not until, they, on their own or with the help of others, work out the “stress issues” with losing a good friend while riding.  We all have to realize that the meteorite can get us – unlikely, but it still can happen – same with riding a motorcycle.  As Forrest says, “it happens”.

Interestingly, I have observed others who seem impervious to the “stress disorder” and go about putting their life back together even better than it was before. “Ron” is the poster biker for a fellow that gets hit on his motorcycle, and honestly believes that his life has become better for it. He was run over by a person who was not paying attention. Many surgeries and infections later, his right leg was removed below the knee. Now he is living life with the gusto of a man many years younger having become heavily involved in his church and the needs of his family. He has been an empty nester for many years now, and has replaced the requirements of his graduate engineer daughter with seven dogs. I think it is fair to say they are having a hoot. And did I mention that he continues to ride? Why is he and those like him different than the others? I wish I knew so that I could bottle his attitude and pass it on to those of us that need it desperately.

 

AFTERMATH — INSURING A BIKE YOU ARE RESTORING

  1. Rod, I read your article about the person who lost a bike in a garage fire only to discover that he did not have coverage for that bike under his homeowner’s policy. In that case, the insurance company pointed to an exclusion in the policy that disallowed coverage for loss of the motorcycle in a fire. The insurance company took the position that even though the bike was being restored, that it was excluded under the homeowner’s policy and needed a separate policy as a functioning vehicle. You advised us to request that the bike be placed on an additional schedule much like other valuables out of the ordinary, e.g. gold coins, valuable jewelry, rare guns etc – especially if the bike was in pieces or in the process of being assembled. Guess what? When I tried to do that my insurance company insisted that they would only cover the bike we are restoring if we insured it as an operating motorcycle. What gives and what can we do?

– ABATE of OHIO member.

  1. We need to educate the insurance companies much like we did with Farm Bureau. It makes no sense that when we have a bike in the process of being assembled or put together from swap meet parts, that we can’t get coverage for parts that we obtain over a period of time. Certainly we can’t plate a bike like that until it meets state standards. For bikes that are ineligible for plating, consider scheduling the most valuable parts i.e. transmission, engine, tanks and frame on your homeowner’s policy. If the insurance company is dug in on insuring the bike as a motor vehicle, consider a company with seasonal insurance, so you do not have to pay for liability coverage while the bike is in an un-restored condition. Some insurance companies will assign a value to the bike especially if it is a vintage bike and insure it for that value regardless of ridability and plating. Let me know if this works.

 

ABATE LEGAL ON FACEBOOK

If you missed out on last month’s Gas Card Giveaway don’t fret, we will be doing similar Facebook related promotions throughout the year.  Congratulations to Jean Norris of Indianapolis, IN and Mike Walter of Owaneco, IL on each winning a $25 gas card this month!  In addition we would like to thank Monica, Abate of Illinois, for her kind FB post regarding our article and services:

“When my ABATE newsletter arrives in the mail each month I always read the Ask Our Lawyer column by Rod Taylor first. Love the straight forward answers and professional advice he provides for questions he receives. I am excited that you have a Facebook page now and I am sure I will enjoy it as well. KNOWLEDGE IS POWER!!”

 

Ride Safe & Free,

 

Rod Taylor

ABATE Legal Services

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 and expenses as approved by client, consistent with and conforming to applicable state law. Elsewhere, you may pay 33 ⅓%, 40% or even 50% of your recovery. ABATE members are not charged for recovery of damage to your 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  © 2016.

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Ask Our Lawyer February 2016

Ask Our Lawyer

by Rod Taylor – ABATE Legal Services

 

MARVELS OF MARVEL MYSTERY OIL – A SECRET MUST FOR MOTORCYCLE WINTER STORAGE

 

When it gets so cold out you know you will not be riding for a few weeks, stop by an auto parts store or a Walmart and get a quart can of Marvel Mystery Oil. Pour almost the whole can in the gas tank (save about 4-6 tablespoons for later), and then fill the tank up completely with fuel. The Marvel Mystery Oil will act as an upper cylinder lubricant. (This stuff has been around since the 30s, and I still don’t know how it works. Air cooled air plane engines love the stuff. And we all know that the airplane guys got the idea for aircraft engines from us motorcycle guys.   If you want to unstick some valves or lubricate sticking valves, this stuff works like magic.   Paul Romine, the guy who remanufactured Ford engines for Ford in the midwest and a NHRA Champion, swears by the stuff, and that’s enough for me.  -Rod)

Remember that 4-6 tablespoons of Marvel Mystery Oil we held in reserve? Now comes the time to use it. Pull the spark plugs out of the engine, pour a tablespoon of Marvel Mystery Oil in each cylinder, and turn the engine over by hand several revolutions in order to spread the Marvel Mystery Oil around the cylinder walls. Reinstall the spark plugs. Simple steps like these will keep your bike ready for this spring and many more to come! Especially if you own a shovel.

 

ABATE LEGAL ON FACEBOOK

 

ABATE Legal is getting with the times as we recently set up a Facebook page.  Come find us and get registered in our gas card giveaway this month!  We will be giving away two $25 gas cards, and all you have to do to get registered in the drawing is “Like” our ABATE Legal page.  Don’t worry, we will also submit an entry for anyone who was on the ball and liked us before this promotion.  Also, please feel free to share any motorcycle articles, videos, etc. you think we should take a look at. Thanks and good luck in the drawing.

MAKING THE MOST OF YOUR MINUTES

 

(We have had a series of questions about minutes of board meetings.  What follows is a discussion of the issues confronted by boards and board secretaries.  Let us have your comments and feedback. -Rod)

 

Q: Our local ABATE chapter has had some discussion recently over how we should take minutes. Someone told me they had to make verbatim transcripts of the board meetings, but others say they only have to reflect the actions of the board.

 

A: First, look to your bylaws for guidance.  Often times, the bylaws will specify what type of minutes to use.  If you have a choice, there are two choices a board secretary can make regarding minutes.  They can either record every word, or record summaries of the conversations.  Each has its benefits and drawbacks.

 

Robert’s Rules generally favors a show-all, tell-all approach to Board Minutes.  Certainly that makes life easy when all that is done is to record exactly every comment and then show the struck language that is not part of the approved minutes. Only Board members should be privy to the “draft minutes” and then when the “draft minutes are approved”  those minutes are published and made available to the members.  These rules regarding minutes are simple and easy to enforce.  However, these kinds of recordings may chill candid ramblings that would be inappropriate for publication – even if shown as stricken – and may contain legal issues that need to be protected.  For example, what if libel, slander or politically sensitive remarks, etc. are recorded with no way to edit or redact the comments?  Those type of comments could come back to haunt the organization in the future or cause divisions within the organizations.

 

The summary approach also has considerations which recommend it.  It allows brutally honest exchanges between board members, – even inappropriate exchanges – without chilling what some folks really think.  It makes the lawyers  sleep better without worrying about libel and slander suits.  It allows ABATE  to put its best foot forward in the final minutes as approved by the Board.  Since we as an organization are somewhat political this may be the best choice, unless we want to run the risk of causing divisions within the organization.

 

Because the summary approach does not record perfectly the words and expressions involved during a board meeting, board members can be accused of inappropriate editing.  In other words, the Board is reserving the right to “clean up” irrelevant comments that may or may not be appropriate.  It then becomes important for the secretary to be judicious in deciding how the board discussions are to be summarized.

 

In general, given the sue-everybody mentality that seems to be running amok these days, it may be that adopting summary minutes may afford the best for ABATE boards and their members.

 

 

 

 

COPS AND THE ROAD

 

Q: A friend of mine at work was going north on Route 57 from Kankakee, IL. Right before the Manteno exit, a State trooper had someone pulled over. My friend didn’t change lanes when approaching the trooper. All of a sudden, the trooper pulled out right in front of him and gave him a citation for violating the “Scott’s Law.” What is this law, and is there any defense? A.B.A.T.E. of Illinois Member (Also remember last month’s article about a similar situation involving David Hendy, long time ABATE of Illinois member.)

 

A: The law definitely exists, and can be found for Illinois at 625 ILCS 5/11-907. Other states have similar provisions (Indiana at IC 9-21-8-35 and Ohio at ORC 4511.213). The Illinois statute requires that:

 

(c)        Upon approaching a stationary authorized emergency vehicle, when the authorized emergency vehicle is giving a signal by displaying alternately flashing red, red and white, blue, or red and blue lights or amber or yellow warning lights, a person who drives an approaching vehicle shall:

  1. proceeding with due caution, yield the right-of-way by making a lane change into a lane not adjacent to that of the authorized emergency vehicle, if possible with due regard to safety and traffic conditions, if on a highway having at least 4 lanes with not less than 2 lanes proceeding in the same direction as the approaching vehicle; or
  2. proceeding with due caution, reduce the speed of the vehicle, maintaining a safe speed for road conditions, if changing lanes would be impossible or unsafe.

. . .

 

(d) A person who violates subsection (c) of this Section commits a business offense punishable by a fine of not less than $100 or more than $10,000. (emphasis added)

The statute is less than clear as to when a motorist is required to move over. It is clear that the statute requires that a motorist either change lanes or slow down. It’s still up to the officer to decide if the motorist exercised “due caution,” but the police officer is only one-half of the story. The charged person may have believed that a lane change was unsafe. A judge or jury would be the final word.

 

WHERE THERE’S A WAY, THERE SHOULD BE A WILL

 

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.  ABATE of Indiana Member.

 

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. And remember, we do wills for ABATE members for free!

When you are ready to make a will, there are several things you will need to think about such as:

  • – 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 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 have to be met to ensure that the will is valid. In general, the will has to be made by someone over 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, the court will make sure it is valid and provide appropriate orders to insure the will’s instructions are carried out.

If you don’t have a will, or want to make changes to your will, call ABATE Legal at 1-800-25-RIDER or submit via the ABATE Legal website, abatelegal.com.

 

Ride Safe & Free,

 

Rod Taylor

ABATE Legal Services

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 and expenses as approved by client, consistent with and conforming to applicable state law. Elsewhere, you may pay 33 ⅓%, 40% or even 50% of your recovery. ABATE members are not charged for recovery of damage to your 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  © 2016.

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Ask Our Lawyer January 2016

Ask Our Lawyer

by Rod Taylor – ABATE Legal Services

 

HOW TO DEAL WITH A TRAFFIC TICKET THAT IS WRONG

 

David Hendy, long time ABATE member, got a ticket on his 94 Dyna Glide.  He called for advice and here is his story.  While heading down a Chicago street with three travel lanes but two of which were not marked,  David notice a police officer writing a ticket up ahead and off to his right. He was aware of the rule to make way for the police officer.  He slowed to a safe speed, moving as far left as he could safely, to give the officer more room.  That officer stopped writing the ticket and stepped out in front of him  and cited him for not moving into the unmarked adjacent lane which was occupied by another vehicle.  David believed that the ticket was wrongfully issued as he did all he could do safely to give way to the officer (I wonder if louder pipes had anything to do with it?)  David requested our advice as to how to defend the ticket as he did not want to plead guilty since he believed he was in the right and did not want points assessed against his license.  Even though he protested vigorously at the scene, the officer did not accept his explanation, but did seem somewhat perplexed when the non marking of lanes was raised as an issue.

Even though you may not have time to screw with it, my stock advice to all is to never, ever pay a wrongfully issued ticket for a lot of reasons – principles, points, adverse impact on CDL holders etc. Same here, even though David could have paid it or sought deferral which would have nixed any points and saved him a lot of time and trouble. Dealing with the court system in downtown Chicago is not for the faint of heart.  David wanted to fight it and good for him.  We armed him with the basics; list the facts chronologically for the court, bring photos of the area and tell your story to the judge. And if you have a perfect driving record bring a copy of it to parade before the court. It is usually thought not to be relevant, but most judges will let you have your say.   He went to traffic court fully armed with a defense to the citation, but the police officer failed to show, which happens in cases where the police officer facts are thin.  When the officer failed to show the judge threw ticket out.  Many officers will not show up for trial regarding questionable traffic citations.  In those cases the court will almost always dismiss the ticket as they can usually read between the lines.  In this case, the day was won by David, his principles and the facts.

 

BEING NICE FOR A REASON – UNDUE INFLUENCE AND A PARENT’S WILL

 

Q: My mother lives out of state and has been assisted in her day to day 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 changing her will to leave the estate to the next-door neighbors who have been helping her. What can I do to prevent her from doing that? ABATE 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 your mother is declared legally incompetent, you can’t prevent her from changing her will.

However, there are alternatives. A will can be disregarded by the Courts in probate proceeding if there had been “undue influence” on the testatrix during the drafting of the will. That is, if the writer of the will was being manipulated or coerced into changing the terms of the will or the beneficiaries of the will, then the will can be challenged in court. If you can produce evidence that you mother was being unduly influenced by her neighbors to change her will, then the new will may be thrown out and you may be able to use the previous will.

 

COPS JUST DOING THEIR JOB – THE BAD IS YOUR EX

 

Q: I’m being investigated by the local cops. The allegations are bogus, but they won’t tell me who made the charge. [ex-girlfriends and ex-boyfriends are notorious ill-informants] The police will only say it was confidential information. Is there anything I can do? ABATE MEMBER.

 

A: Probably not. In most cases, the identity of informants can be kept confidential unless and until formal charges have been brought and that informant is identified as a witness. Until then, it is difficult, if not impossible, to learn the identify of that person.

That does not mean, however, that there are no limits on what an informer can do. If the identity of the informant is known, and the information given to the police is false, the informant can be sued for defamation.  And if the informant is lying, the prosecutor can bring charges against the informant for providing false information to the police.

 

 

DOGS HAVE SEARCH LIMITS TOO

 

Q:        I’ve seen on several occasions that a police officer will use a dog to sniff a car or bike that has been stopped for a traffic stop to see if there are any drugs. I would like to know if there is any research determining if drug sniffing dogs employed by police during traffic stops are actually detecting drugs or whether they are doing what their handlers want them to do.  Do you have any thoughts?  ABATE MEMBER

 

A:        You’ve raised an interesting issue. I haven’t seen any cases on this question lately but if a person has been arrested on a drug possession charge in a case like that, they could file a request to see the training records for the dog that did the sniffing. Records of training for the dogs should be available to see if we have a real drug dog or a plant.

Some cases have held that the police can use a dog during a traffic stop, but cannot prolong a stop just to bring a dog in. In other words, the police have to have a reasonable cause to detain you past the period necessary to deal with a traffic stop, and so would have to have probable cause before the dogs can be brought in. However, if the dog is already on the scene, the officer can have the dog sniff the car while the traffic stop is in progress.  That is if he is really a drug sniffer.

 

TOP REASONS A.B.A.T.E. LEGAL WAS CREATED BY THE BOARD

 

ABATE LAWYERS really ride. They are motorcyclists representing motorcyclists. They know and understand the issues involved in motorcycle cases.

They are staffed by experienced expert trial lawyers who have handled thousands of serious cases in the United States and Canada. Experienced investigators and former insurance company claim managers fill their ranks. They know how the other side thinks. That gives A.B.A.T.E. Legal the experience needed to be successful in handling your case. The more information about the adverse, the better.

A.B.A.T.E. Legal lawyers have the highest ratings and respect of their peers.

A.B.A.T.E. Legal is the lawyer for A.B.A.T.E. and serves as general counsel for its officers, directors and volunteers. In that role, it serves without pay – just like the rest of the A.B.A.T.E. volunteers. And all ABATE officers and clients have Rod’s cell number.  If he does not call you back right away, you can assume he died. How many of you have a lawyer’s cell number?

A.B.A.T.E. Legal has drafted hundreds of wills for A.B.A.T.E. members FREE OF CHARGE.

A.B.A.T.E. Legal gives legal advice on personal legal issues experienced by its members – FREE OF CHARGE.

A.B.A.T.E. Legal created Roadhazard.org, which has saved countless injuries to bikers and damage to their bikes.

AND BEST OF ALL, as a member of A.B.A.T.E. you and your family pay only 28-1/2 percent of the recovery for personal injury or less. Most other lawyers will charge you 33-1/3 percent to 40 percent or more.   We notice that often times the adverse party to a crash does not have adequate insurance to pay for our members losses.  In that case our lawyers need to be even more flexible and charge even less to get the job done.  Try that with the other lawyers who won’t give you their cell number.  Many times our members have mistakenly hired other lawyers who they thought were ABATE lawyers working for ABATE reduced rates.  They found out too late that they were not ABATE lawyers and would charge a higher rate. Just try to get the non ABATE lawyer to reduce his rate to the ABATE rate.  Hire the lawyer that works best for you, and why pay more?

 

 

 

 

 

WHERE THERE’S A WILL, THERE’S A WAY – HENRY GELDMEIER PASSED AWAY AND GAVE TO ABATE

 

Henry Geldmeier took the ABATE RIDER COURSE many years ago.  Did not know him well but knew that he was an owner of a grain elevator.  He lived alone, with his motorcycles.  And he saved his money – more money that most.  And he was good hearted to those that made a difference in his life .  Henry’s will directed that five thousand dollars of his estate be set aside to ABATE in remembrance of the good they do.

So do you want to remember your favorite motorcycle rights organization like Henry did?

When you make out your will, you can include a gift to your favorite MRO. Whether it’s your state ABATE organization or some other MRO, your support in your will ensure that your love of motorcycling is carried

  1. So set aside an amount that you can afford. Even if it is  a  $100.00 or $1,000.00 or just your favorite bike, you help insure the future of motorcycling in America.

 

Ride Safe & Free,

 

Rod Taylor


ABATE Legal Services

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 and expenses as approved by client, consistent with and conforming to applicable state law. Elsewhere, you may pay 33 ⅓%, 40% or even 50% of your recovery. ABATE members are not charged for recovery of damage to your 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  © 2016.

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Ask Our Lawyer March 2013

Ask Our Lawyer

by Rod Taylor – ABATE Legal Services

TIS THE SEASON FOR POKER RUNS AND GETTING WAIVERS IS A PAIN

Q.   Rod. We are having a Poker Run in early spring. Each year we have more riders and handling the number of waiver documents is becoming more difficult. I have been to rides where they staple a waiver to the front of a legal pad. Participants are then handed the legal pad and are asked to read the waiver and sign on the next available line on the legal pad. This would save us a lot of work. We only need a few waivers and three or four legal size pads to get everyone’s signature. Can we do it this way? P.L. ABATE OF ILLINOIS MEMBER

A.   It would beat nothing, but here is what I fear would happen. Judges strictly construe the waiver of legal rights, as they should. Afterall, we are asking a fellow motorcyclist to give up his sacred right to go to court and sue us if we are negligent and cause him harm in exchange for our permission to allow him to go on our poker run. What I fear is that a participant on our poker run would say that he thought he was “merely signing a sign-in sheet” and did not see or notice there was a waiver attached to the front of the legal pad (it may have been honestly folded back so one could sign on the lines of the legal pad). I am not buying that argument but several courts have, and agreed that the waiver may have been overlooked. Since waivers are strictly construed, many courts would hold that the waiver was ineffective as it was not knowingly signed. In other words, the guy gets off the hook for the waiver he signed and we may get screwed in any claim/lawsuit. So the better way to accomplish getting a knowingly signed waiver is to have a separate waiver for each participant.

       WAIVER OVERSEERS ARE A MUST FOR RUNS

Q.   I was at your seminar presentation put on by A.B.A.T.E. OF Illinois. What is the best way to make sure waivers are properly signed? I have noticed that some people do not sign their true names or they sign it illegibly? A.B.A.T.E. OF Illinois member

A.   A waiver overseer should be appointed at all events for which you are requesting a waiver as a condition of participating. The only time we need the signed waiver is when there is an incident. When that occurs, we need someone to go through what may be several hundred/thousand waivers in the hopes that the proper waiver can be identified and produced. Issues concerning legibility can be solved by requiring a printed name below the signature. But what do you do if a participant questions the signature? The solution is simple. A waiver overseer can initial each waiver that is signed during his “shift” and in his presence. That way, I can obtain an affidavit from the overseer that affirms that he saw the person sign the waiver. This is critical to have, in case the validity of a waiver comes into question.

TRESPASSERS ON RIDES AND WHAT TO DO

Q.   Hi Rod, a question came up regarding liability waiver forms for our runs and activities. Question is this: What if a person jumps in on the run (seeing a buddy having fun), crashes the gate or just refuses to sign in? How does the law look at this if the person (God forbid) is harmed in some way during our activity? Is this person “Not trespassing?” Who’s got our back on this one? Or , how do we cover our backside? James Blevins, ABATE OF OHIO MEMBER.

A.   A sign that declares that all participants in the ride must sign a waiver works. Banding is the best way to mark those that have paid and signed the waiver. All others are not authorized (trespassers) and should be admonished to stay clear of the ride/activity. Rides should be escorted by police officers, so a simple gesture from them is usually all it takes. If they stay with the ride and are injured, evidence that all participants were required to sign a waiver will be significant to the court in deciding responsibility, and testimony from the escorting police officer will be helpful in establishing the unauthorized (trespassing) status of the interloper. Recently a California Appellate Court decided a case that may be a good precedent for us. In that case, a couple attended a poker run for several years and signed the required waiver. Then one year, they did not sign the waiver and were seriously injured in a crash on the run. Of course, they sued the run organizers for damages. Interestingly, the court held that there was an expectation of required waivers and held that the couple was bound by it and dismissed the case. While Ohio has not decided a case with those facts, you can bet ABATE LEGAL will be pointing at that California case and arguing that Ohio should adopt such a good rule. Same for Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, and New York as well.

JULIE BACON TREASURER OF A.B.A.T.E. OF ILLINOIS – BOSSY PANTS?

I don’t think so. As a matter of fact she is right on and doing her job, and no one has ever done it better.

Q.   Last week Julie and I had the following conversation. “Rod, what can we do to eliminate calls from our Chapters (Regions in other states) that complain that a local treasurer/assistant has “borrowed” money from their local ABATE account.

A.   The problem is that “honest people are trusting people” and as such we are vulnerable unless we strictly follow the rules implemented by most not for profit corporations. As Julie and I discussed, the solution is very simple. RULE 1: Follow the rules. RULE 2: Require dual signatures on all ABATE checking accounts. RULE 3: Require bonding for accounts that will have balances over $5k. Bonding is cheap and it spares us of having to eat our own. If you have a loss, simply report it to the bonding company. They will send you (Chapter or Region) the money lost and will collect the amount “borrowed” from our errant money caretakers. Believe me, those folks are brutally efficient at collecting amounts taken. People like “Luca Brasi” work for them and some of them are lawyers. The only problem is that bonding companies are particular as to the individuals they will agree to bond, as they like making money. Come to think of it, a rejection by a bonding company may be a good way to delegate the asking of and receiving answers to embarrassing questions of one of our fellow members. RULE 4: If the member can’t get bonding, should they be handling our money? I don’t think so, unless you are willing to suffer Julie’s wrath when you call her to report the loss. She is getting good at saying, “I told you; just follow the rules.”

JULIE’S SIMILAR QUESTIONS FROM YEARS AGO

Q. We have been hit by yet another round of misappropriations in our A.B.A.T.E. local organization by someone we trusted. What can we do to make sure this does not happen in the future? Julie Bacon, Treasurer, A.B.A.T.E. OF ILLINOIS

A. Probably nothing to guarantee that it never happens, but there are several things we can do to minimize the chances and the amounts at risk. Here are some simple rules.

  1. Don’t let people who desperately need money handle the money. Get a credit check from those handling the funds. There should be no privacy issues when it comes to those handling our life blood of the organization – dollars.
  2. Even if you get a good person to handle the money – get two of them for a check and balance. Always require dual signatures on any checks.
  3. You should bond any money transactions over the amount you can’tafford to use. Bonding is cheap compared to the risk. The local A.B.A.T.E. organization should decide the threshold of its pain – namely what amount can it afford to lose through misappropriation and then bond over that amount. The good part about bonding is that the bonding company will get a credit history from these persons and will be responsible for getting the money back if there is a theft. The bonding company will ask the questions that we are usually embarrassed to ask. In short, they will screen our people for us. Of course, they will pay us up front if we have a loss. Bonding is cheap compared to the alternative.
  1. The reason for number 3 above is that A.B.A.T.E. does not have to be the bad guy. In other words, we do not have to eat our own if we have someone that betrays our trust.
  2. What do you do when you think we have been had by a person entrusted with our funds? Nip it in the bud. Worst case is that you embarrass yourself by asking the “who, what, when and where” questions. If you have done your job with A.B.A.T.E., you will have followed our loss procedures and the theft will be minimal. If you have required dual signatures and one signature was forged, the bank will be responsible for the loss, and you have done a good job for A.B.A.T.E.
  3. What do we do when we find a theft? Do we hang/prosecute them or? A policy should be followed that takes into account our legal requirements, but also should allow for explanations for the failure of trust. Remorse, mistakes etc., should be evaluated. When in doubt, call us for advice. Julie and I have been through this too many times, and we are here to help you through this tough situation.

What are the reasons for the going through all of this? A.B.A.T.E. needs the money – that is our life-blood for what we do. But most importantly – to protect, preserve, and defend the integrity and credit the worthiness of A.B.A.T.E. The world needs to have confidence in our business practices.

BIKER CHICK

Once upon a time, there was a bantam rooster. Since it looked different than the regal all white Leghorns, about a third of their size and brownish, it pretty much lived a life outside the chicken world being that he was the only one of his tribe in that flock. I think he decided that since he was not one of them he would hang with us – the need to belong somewhere must be universal. And he even had a name – Chicken George. An amazing thing was that he had learned to ride on a platform in front of the handlebars of a bicycle. So it didn’t take much for it/him to transfer the bicycle perching skills to motorcycle perching skills. Here is how that happened. One summer, a neighbor had some friends visit from the Chicago area. They brought with them motorcycles that needed stored “for a while”. I didn’t know then, what I probably do know now, about those motorcycles. Just guessing but I am reasonably sure, now, that then, there was some confusion as to ownership. So for one good part of a summer we had to make sure that these motorcycles were properly exercised – for the rightful owners of course. And so did the biker chick. Nothing more amusing than watching this biker chick perched at the top of a buddy seat on an old knuckle going down the road at about 50 mph. Something about the wind I guess, especially when you have small or no wings.

Ride Safe and Free,

Rod Taylor
ABATE Legal Services

Remember, injured ABATE members pay only 28 ½% of total recovery and expenses as approved by client, consistent with and conforming to applicable state law. Elsewhere, you may pay 33 ⅓%, 40% or even 50% of your recovery. ABATE members are not charged for recovery of damage to your motorcycle, and have access to a 24-hour toll-free telephone number. Call us at (800) 25-RIDER. Questions? Submit them to RodTaylor@abatelegalcom. © 2013.

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Ask Our Lawyer February 2013

Ask Our Lawyer

by Rod Taylor – ABATE Legal Services

DOGGONE DOG LAWS OR PINK PANTHER’S “IT IS NOT MY DOG” DOESN’T WORK IN MANY STATES

Q.   Rod, while riding in Kentucky, out of nowhere a stray dog jumped in front of my bike. I went down hard, was injured and my bike sustained considerable damage. While waiting for medical attention, I learned that the local preacher was feeding and caring for the stray, but was not otherwise securing the dog. He made a big point of saying that he did not own the dog and denied legal responsibility ( just like Peter Sellers did), but he did admit to feeding and caring for it. What is the law in this situation?

A.   In my experience, injuries caused by loose dogs are some of the more devastating – hence the reason that many states and counties have enacted laws/ordinances that protect the public. Many riders do not appreciate the dangers of loose dogs running into the path of a motorcycle. I didn’t until I got into the lawyering business. My technique of dog avoidance was to speed around them or nudge them away with my boot – both are bad ideas. Isaac Newton is right, “whatever you hit” hit it as slow as possible.   Here is what you can expect when you hit a dog, even at low speeds of 30 or 40 mph and god forbid you hit one at 50 or 60 mph. Your front tire instantly turns sideways even though you are traveling at lower speeds, and it does this – without a hint of warning, unless you are so good that you hit the dog – dead center. And that almost never happens with the usual collision causing your bike to go head over heals, with you somewhere in the mix. Not good. Most bikers that have not hit a dog assume that you just run over the top of the dog and go on. Not so, unless you’re that one in a thousand and happen to hit the dog with equal pressures on the front tire.

Laws have been enacted in many jurisdictions to protect the public from the dangers of stray dogs on roadways which include responsibility for feeding, caring for and otherwise harboring a stray dog. Even though the intentions are pure, once you undertake the care of a stray, there is a duty in many jurisdictions to make sure the dog does not run loose. In other words, if you start caring for a stray dog, you have to do it right and make sure that the stray you feed does not cause harm to others. Legally it becomes your dog to keep out of the public’s way. Interestingly, cats are off the hook in Illinois – must have had a good lobbyist.

Regulation 90.02 in Kentucky, 510 ILCS 5/2.16 in Illinois, Sec. 955.28 in Ohio and other similar laws around the country, defines the owner of an animal as one “who keeps or harbors an animal or dog, has it in his care, or permits it to remain on or about the premises owned or occupied by him ….” as such “is liable for all damages caused by such animal….” This is so even if a person just cared for the stray dog. No ownership is required. Common sense and lawmakers do not want folks harboring a dog without the legal responsibilities. Accordingly, most communities disallow the Pink Panther, “it’s not my dog defense.”

In searching for the law on responsibilities of “dog harborers” don’t stop with state laws (statutes). Counties in some states have enacted ordinances that provide legal responsibilities to the owner of the property, even where the dog is owned by the tenant. For example, an Ordinance in Howard County, Indiana provides for liability of the owner of business property, when that owner permits a dog to roam free on the property even when that dog is owned by another.   It is sufficient that the property owner knows that a dog is running loose and could be a problem. The idea is that the land owner has control of his property and can make sure the renter’s dog is secured.

In most cases, home/business insurance policies, provide coverage for your personal injury and property damage to your bike. So if you get hurt by a dog when it runs out in front of you, and the person standing over you seems to know all about the dog but does not want to own up to the responsibility for your injuries, I know a lawyer that knows all about your rights.

MOTORCYCLE POSTTRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER – ANOTHER STORY

A while back, I wrote a story about a good friend of mine who had a traumatic experience while riding and gave it up. While on his weekly ride, his good friend was killed by a couple of racing drivers. My friend is a guy that had more miles on a bike than just about anyone I know – including me. Doctor Taylor here, concluded that surely more is going on with him than meets the eye. Motorcycling was his life. How could he quit? And what would cause such a drastic decision in his life. Using the experiences of clients I have had over the years, I suspected the root of the evil was posttraumatic stress disorder. My experience is that many of these riders return to riding at some point in their lives, but not until, they, on their own or with the help of others, work out the “stress issues”. And “we” have to realize that the meteorite can get us – unlikely, but it still can happen.

Interestingly, I have observed others who seem impervious to the “stress disorder” and go about putting their life back together even better than it was before. “Ron” is the poster biker for a fellow that gets hit on his motorcycle, and honestly believes that his life has become better for it. He was run over by a person who was not paying attention. Many surgeries and infections later, his right leg was removed below the knee. Now he is living life with the gusto of a man many years younger having become heavily involved in his church and the needs of his family. He has been an empty nester for many years now, and has replaced the requirements of his graduate engineer daughter with seven dogs. I think it is fair to say they are having a hoot. And did I mention that he continues to ride? Why is he and those like him different than the others? I wish I knew so that I could bottle his attitude and pass it on to those of us that need it desperately.

MISSOURI SENATE BILL 897 – NO MORE MOTORCYCLE ONLY CHECKPOINTS

Since ABATE, MRF, AMA and other motorcycle rights organizations have gotten involved, 5 states have outlawed the practice of federally funded motorcycle only checkpoints. I have written about this practice in the past when it first started showing up in New York, Illinois and other states. What better way to ruin your day of riding than a federally funded police officer getting federal funds for his overtime gig to cause you delay or deter you from attending your favorite motorcycle event? Now Missouri has introduced legislation to join the other “outlaw” well thinking states. Looks like we have only 44 more to go if Missouri does as the other five. If you need help in your state getting legislation introduced to eliminate this unwarranted practice let us know.

ROADHAZARD REPORTS

With the freeze and thaw, there will be numerous potholes and dangerous riding conditions. Take a moment out of your day to report these adverse conditions to RoadHazard.org. Looking out for others on the open road might just come back and look out for you!

From time to time we will commend people and companies that are proactive in helping to keep our roadways safe. This month we thank BNSF Railway for its quick action in repairing a very dangerous railroad crossing. The crossing, located on Somonauk Road/DeKalb County had a huge pothole 18 inches wide by 3-4 inches deep. Rebar was visible in the bottom of this small canyon – waiting on you to show up! After notifying BNSF Regional Director of Public Affairs, Amy McBeth, we were kept up to speed as to the improvement of this crossing which was completed in less than two weeks. Impressive! Thanks again to BNSF and Amy for their very timely and responsible actions!

ON THE LIGHTER SIDE

In a trial, a small-town prosecuting attorney called his first witness, a grandmotherly, elderly woman to the stand. He approached her and asked, ‘Mrs. Jones, do you know me?’ She responded, ‘Why, yes, I do know you, Mr. Williams. I’ve known you since you were a boy, and frankly, you’ve been a big disappointment to me. You lie, you cheat on your wife, and you manipulate people and talk about them behind their backs. You think you’re a big shot when you haven’t the brains to realize you’ll never amount to anything more than a two-bit paper pusher. Yes, I know you.’

The lawyer was stunned. Not knowing what else to do, he pointed across the room and asked, ‘Mrs. Jones, do you know the defense attorney?’

She again replied, ‘Why yes, I do. I’ve known Mr. Bradley since he was a

youngster, too. He’s lazy, bigoted, and he has a drinking problem. He can’t build a normal relationship with anyone, and his law practice is one of the worst in the entire state. Not to mention he cheated on his wife with three different women. One of them was your wife. Yes, I know him.’

The defense attorney nearly died.

The judge asked both counselors to approach the bench and, in a very quiet voice, said, ‘If either of you idiots asks her if she knows me, I’ll send you both to the electric chair.’

Ride Safe and Free,

Rod Taylor
ABATE Legal Services

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.

Remember, injured ABATE members pay only 28 ½% of total recovery and expenses as approved by client, consistent with and conforming to applicable state law. Elsewhere, you may pay 33 ⅓%, 40% or even 50% of your recovery. ABATE members are not charged for recovery of damage to your motorcycle, and have access to a 24-hour toll-free telephone number. Call us at (800) 25-RIDER. Questions? Submit them to RodTaylor@abatelegalcom. © 2013.

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Ask Our Lawyer January 2013

Ask Our Lawyer

by Rod Taylor – ABATE Legal Services

ALL BIKERS SHOULD BE “ROADS” SCHOLARS

ROADS SCHOLAR LESSON NO. 1 – It was bikers that returned glory to the Old National Road that cuts across the country, also known as U.S. 40. Its heyday was 1840, but by the middle of that century, the railroads had put it out of business. The traffic/business was so bad that the Feds turned the highway back to the counties to maintain their portion. That is until some unknown designed and built a new form of transportation – the safety bicycle. And it was Harley Davidson that made a myriad of those, before they figured out how to put a motor on that cycle and become part of transportation history and lore.

ROADS SCHOLAR LESSON N0. 2 –   The outcry of cyclists (without motors) in 1891 gave rise to better roads. Cycling clubs sprang up all over the U.S. resulting in the creation of state highway departments in the 1890’s.

ROADS SCHOLAR LESSON N0. 3 – Roads started simply – with ditches on the side and with varying sizes of gravel laid down with a “high” portion in the middle. The new style road was called a “high-way”. When concrete and asphalt came along, there also came a new road name, “the hard road”.

ROADS SCHOLAR LESSON NO. 4 – Farmers joined “cyclists” with a get the farmer out of the mud mantra”. Organizations such as the “Good Roads” movement joined with the legislators responsible for the U.S. Post Office. Post Roads were created, and so on it goes, but let’s never forget that it was us “two wheel” riders that started it all. So if you are ever asked “if you motorcyclists think you own the roads,” you might “think” to yourself, yeah, as a matter of fact.

SO YOU GOT A JUDGMENT IN SMALL CLAIMS COURT AGAINST THE BIKE SHOP THAT RIPPED YOU OFF – NOW WHAT?

Q.   Rod, I took your advice and filed suit on my case where the bike shop failed to fix my bike properly, leaving me with a big repair bill at another shop. I got a judgment, but have been getting the runaround on collecting the amount I am owed. What do I do now? ABATE OF INDIANA member.

A.   As lawyers are known to say, “ A judgment is only a piece of paper”. And they are right. So you now have a judgment, but that is only half the battle. Now you need to collect it. Generally, you can seize money from bank accounts, but in order to do that you need the court to order the debtor to answer questions about his assets including his bank accounts. By far the easiest way to collect your judgment is a wage garnishment – if the debtor has a job. Typically you can collect 25% of his wages until your judgment is paid. There are limitations on garnishments especially if another garnishment has been ordered. Remember to be nice to the court’s clerk. That person can make your collection life so much easier, and they usually know more than the lawyers.

Another way to collect your money is to talk with the debtor and try to work out a payment schedule. You might even consider compromising your judgment to save time and expense. And it may be that the debtor has some stuff you could trade for satisfaction in whole or part for your judgment. Let us know how this turns out for you and the lessons that you can share with us. If you take all or part of your judgment in trade, get the debtor to sign off on the deal or at least have him send you a confirming email/text and save it.

U.S. 66 – THE MOTHER ROAD FOR BIKERS AND PROBABLY FOR THE OTHERS TOO

After the advent of cycles in the 1890’s and the “motorized” Harleys in 1904, we had to get out and ride (after all the Model T’s did not come around until 1908). Where better than to follow the Old Santa Fe Trail, Jedediah Smith’s footsteps across California, and Beale’s wagon road across the South West? Later we poured concrete on it and called it Route 66, and now some of us call it the “Mother Road”. You can hear me say that no one should be allowed to die until they have ridden this road from Chicago to California – every mile of it. Nothing gives you motorcycle road fever more than being at the corner of Jackson Blvd. and Michigan Ave. in Chicago (the beginning of Route 66) for your start to California. And nothing feels better than to arrive at the Santa Monica Pier (the end of Route 66) after a whole bunch of wonderful riding miles. A celebratory option is to take a leak off the Santa Monica Pier in celebration of the best road trip ever. That celebration should be a defense to any charges under California law, especially if you are discrete. Tell them I said so. In future articles, I will write about portions of the road and why that road is so important to us bikers.

ROADHAZARD.ORG GOES MOBILE

ABATE Legal is developing a mobile app for reporting road hazards.

This app will allow you to take pictures, use your GPS location, and report needed information. With the availability of reporting dangerous roads at your fingertips, we hope to make our roadways smoother, safer, and hazard-free.

FROM BRIAN SHADIOW – ABATE LEGAL.

COMING SUMMER of 2013!

EXPUNGING UNCLE FRED’S CRIMINAL RECORD IN OH., IN. AND IL. – CAN YOU?

Q.   My uncle had a criminal conviction prior to being drafted into the U.S. Army back in the late 60’s. He was only 18 at the time of conviction. Since returning from the service, he has raised a wonderful family and led a good life and wants to get rid of this stain on his record. What can we help him do to get this straightened out? ABATE OF OHIO member.

A.   Most criminal records of arrest will never be expunged. However there are some instances where the law allows a unique and harmless criminal arrest experience to be silenced – forever. That process is called sealing of records. In other words, sealing is hiding the records from the public and expungement is permanent destruction of arrest records. That is the general difference between expungement and sealing. Why is this allowed, you ask? Because the stain of the alleged offense is often more painful than punishment for the offense and that is thought to be unfair to a good citizen that had a youthful moment. Adding to the confusion, it seems that each state has a unique rule regarding this process.

Let’s start with Illinois.   Here the legislature allows a process for erasure of some arrests so the accused can go about life as if the arrest never occurred. But no convictions in Illinois can be expunged – only non-conviction records like arrests. Even then any prior convictions for just about anything other than traffic offenses are show stoppers. So what can be erased in Illinois?

1. Arrests with no formal charges; 2. Cases that were dismissed or for which you were acquitted; 3. Cases in which you were convicted, but the conviction was later reversed; 3. Cases of successful court supervision and first offender programs and the like. With expungement, the records are destroyed or returned to the arrested person. In Illinois sealing is a different deal. In that case the records are not destroyed but merely hidden from the public, the cops can still see those records and use them against you in later sentencing hearings. The differences in sealing are that records of convictions can be sealed so long as those crimes were non-violent. As in most states, the last hope for serious convictions ia a pardon from the governor, who can order expungement of the records (destruction). The expungement process usually involves filing a petition in the circuit court where the case started.

In Ohio there is no such thing as expungement. The best you can do is to get your records “sealed”, and that will occur if you did not have any prior convictions. This means that most employers, landlords, and the general public will usually not be able to see your arrest and conviction records. The exceptions are law enforcement personnel and professional licensing boards. Usually no records of first or second degree felonies, offenses with a prison sentence or any violent offense can be sealed. Interestingly, no traffic offense can be sealed – thanks to the insurance industry.

In Indiana, there are only two ways (short of the governor’s help) to get an expungement of an arrest record. 1. You were busted but no charges were ever filed against you (this protects you from the cop whose ex-wife your were dating and who took exception). 2. You were busted and charges were filed, but all charges were dropped because; you were the wrong guy; no offense was committed; or there was no probable cause. This means that even if you were found not guilty, you are not eligible for expungement of your arrest/trial record because you do not fit into 1. or 2. above. Then what can you do? After 15 years, you can petition for limitation of access of your records to criminal justice agencies. For more, you are going to need a pardon from the governor, and for that, you better have done some very good things for your state, and have been a model citizen before and after your conviction. Indiana also allows restricted disclosure of arrest records usually where no prosecution occurs or a conviction is vacated/found innocent. The restricted disclosure rules are more lax than the harsh rules of expungement (destruction) of arrest records.

In most states there are specific rules for juveniles that have had a delinquent/criminal history. I will address this complicated area of the law in a later article.

THE END OF THE RIDE – WILL IT HAPPEN TO US?

This is about Dave Pedersen, a riding budding of mine for over a quarter of a century and a retired bank tycoon. He has given new joy to the concept of motorcycling . I wanted to write this piece for a while now, but I didn’t; read on and you will understand why. Dave has owned and ridden Harley Davidson motorcycles most of his life, and now he doesn’t. I will get into that later. He is/was not just a rider; he is/was hard core. With over 400,000 miles on a series of cycles, few people can best him in the iron butte category, and he has never had so much as a scratch. In his words, nothing but heavenly pleasure. His riding marked him. It was nothing for him to ride out to a HOG event in Washington state and then ride across the county to New Hampshire, within two weeks. In essence, his life was motorcycling and how. We have ridden lots of miles together and through everything. Rain, sun, more rain, lightning, lots of lightning, more sun – and in the middle of nowhere. Not even a tree to get electrocuted under. His son is still hard core into the passion of his father. So what is with the quitting thing? David is 68 years old and has decided that all good/wonderful things come to an end. He has concerns about his age and ability to keep it perpendicular. Maybe it doesn’t help that last spring he and his buddy were riding the mountains near Flagstaff when an errant individual decided to race down the mountain, lost control and hit/crashed with Dave and his buddy. The buddy died at the scene and Dave was lifelined to a hospital in Flagstaff. When Dave called to tell me of his bad luck, I was stunned to learn that he had sold everyone of his motorcycles and had retired from riding. I did not know what to say then and do not understand now. I know that posttraumatic stress disorder gets a lot of us, but not Dave, so I wonder if that is causing his exit from one of life’s pure joys. He is a rub dirt on it – norwegian type of guy. Stuff like that does not get in his way. As long as I can hold one leg up, I cannot ever see me doing what Dave has done – ever. But Dave did say in our closing conversation, “your time will come”. I didn’t respond as I am saving that for another time and my thoughts as to posttraumatic stress. If anybody has it, Dave does, but that outwardly tough guy is not buying it; and enough of that from me – Dr. Taylor.   But I wonder how many of us have experienced this problem? I will write about that another time.

Remember, injured ABATE members pay only 28 ½% of total recovery and expenses as approved by client, consistent with and conforming to applicable state law. Elsewhere, you may pay 33 ⅓%, 40% or even 50% of your recovery. ABATE members are not charged for recovery of damage to your motorcycle, and have access to a 24-hour toll-free telephone number. Call us at (800) 25-RIDER. Questions? Submit them to RodTaylor@abatelegalcom. © 2013.

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