Ask Our Lawyer – August 2014

Ask Our Lawyer

by Rod Taylor – ABATE Legal Services

 

GOOD THING ED SCHETTER IS PARANOID OR IS HE JUST A GOOD DETAIL MAN?

 

Abate of Ohio Executive Director, Ed Schetter, is always worrying about liability and covering our ass.  Here was his concern and it is a good one: many ABATE/MRO’S own trailers that are used for ABATE/MRO business only, but many do not own towing vehicles.  Ed’s concern is, how ABATE should handle the potential liability where it is alleged that the trailer was a cause of an injury/crash.  Most MRO’s maintain trailer tires, lights, brakes and the like and are responsible if there is a failure of those items that causes a problem.  Which means that if there is a failure, your organization would get sued.   Usually the insurance policy of the volunteer towing vehicle for ABATE would provide primary coverage for any occurrence alleging a malfunction of the trailer, but a key issue is – how much coverage?  If the driver has the state minimum, that may be woefully inadequate to take care of serious injury/significant property damage.  You know – like the investment banker in a 300k Ferrari.

 

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

 

DANGERS OF RIDING EAST THIS TIME OF YEAR – ITS FIVE OCLOCK SOMEWHERE

 

ABATE LEGAL passes on our observations of motorcycles getting hit while traveling east in late afternoon.  Numerous riders have been hit or nearly so by drivers heading west into the blinding sun.  Sounds like common sense, but the smaller you are the tougher to see in the setting sun.  So much so that I say avoid traveling into or away from a blinding sun.  If you do, be prepared that the car/truck coming toward you or up behind you may be blinded by the suns rays.  We have had several members learn this the hard way.  Just passing this on.

 

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

 

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

SUMMONS FOR JURY -WHAT HAPPENS AND DO I HAVE TO GO?

 

I get calls from those who have been summoned to jury service. Here are some thoughts on what to expect.

 

Why is jury service so important?

When you are called to be a juror, you become the most important person in our legal system. In the United States, our justice system is based on the belief that a just and fair result in court comes from having disputes settled by our fellow citizens. We have an obligation to our fellow citizens to honor the summons and appear at court. Some cases may be more important than others, but to the parties involved, their case is very important, and they deserve to have it decided by honest and impartial jurors.

How are jurors selected?

Usually, persons are called at random for jury service from an approved list in the court’s geographical area.  Jury trials are held in the United States district courts, the county circuit/superior courts, common pleas court, the municipal courts and county courts.

What are the different types of juries?

Most jurors will be selected to serve on a petit jury, one that is selected to hear and decide a particular case. If the case is a criminal trial involving a felony (a more serious type of crime), the law requires 12 jurors. In a civil case, a smaller number of jurors (usually six or eight jurors) are selected.

Unlike the petit jury, a grand jury hears evidence about alleged crimes, usually felonies, and only decides whether or not a person should be indicted and tried for committing a crime. Also unlike the petit jury, the grand jury does not decide guilt or innocence. If you are summoned to court to be selected for service on a grand jury, you will probably serve for a longer period of time than if you serve on a petit jury, although in most smaller counties, grand jury duty may only be once or twice a month for a three- or four-month period.

 

What happens when I appear for jury service?

When you arrive at the court, you are directed to a particular courtroom or to an assembly area. Some courts provide a brief orientation talk or video to help acquaint you with the system. All prospective jurors take an oath or affirm that they will answer truthfully and fully questions posed to them by the judge and the attorneys during the selection process.

You are also told about the case so that it can be determined if any past experience or bias that might make it hard for you to be fair. You will have an opportunity to tell the court about anything else that might impact your ability to sit as a juror, including health problems, employment situations, and other obligations in your life. You have the right to respond to questions confidentially to the judge and attorneys, if you wish.

Generally, each side in a case has the right to ask that a certain limited number of jurors be excused without giving a reason (called a peremptory challenge). Each side also can make an unlimited number of challenges for cause (for a good reason). When attorneys make these challenges, it is not their intent to personally embarrass potential jurors, but to ensure that they engage jurors they believe will evaluate the case as fairly as possible for their clients.

Can I get out of jury service?

Sometimes, but you need a very good reason.  Serving will give you an “up close and personal” view of the judicial system. Most states provide exemptions for certain occupations or conditions that would interfere with a juror’s ability to serve. If you don’t meet one of the exemptions, you will have to show up for duty and participate in the process.

 

I predict that serving on a jury will be one of the most patriotic events of your life.

 

BIKE THEFT COVERAGE – BIG CHAIN, BAD DOG NEEDED

 

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

– ABATE member

 

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

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

 

Ride Safe and Free,

Rod Taylor


ABATE Legal Services

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