Ask Our Lawyer – October 2014

Ask Our Lawyer

by Rod Taylor – ABATE Legal Services

B.S.  DELAY TACTICS BY THE INSURANCE COMPANY

 

  1.  Rod, I have a question: Last Thursday afternoon around 4:15 p.m. my neighbor parked her car and went into the house.  Unknowingly she left it in gear and running. My son’s car was parked across the street….  I looked outside to see what was going on … and saw my neighbors car had hit my son’s parked car. There was significant damage.  Apparently the neighbor’s car drove itself across the street and hit my son’s car. The neighbor’s car was still running and in gear with no one around it.  We called the East Alton PD and they inspected the damage and left after we exchanged insurance information. Now they tell us they don’t make out accident reports for accidents like this.  (Here is the problem.) The neighbors insurance company wants an accident report before they will pay the claim, my question is shouldn’t the EAPD make out a accident report?  Dennis Kinnikin, ABATE MEMBER.
  2.  Dennis, the East Alton PD were not witnesses to the event – just the damage.  All they could do is report on all that was said by each person.  I believe they should have made a report, but probably just did not want to go thru the paperwork thing for a property damage case only.


Your son should press on with his claim against the neighbor’s insurance company as their insured – your neighbor – was clearly at fault. He (you) should not be deterred by the insurance company’s insistence on a report that was not done. That simply delays payment for the damage to your son’s car, and maybe that is part of their plan.  That insurance company is clearly blowing you off, so your son should be persistent with presenting this claim.  Confirm every conversation with the insurance company in writing (email) and feel free to show a cc to me as your lawyer.  That could encourage them to do the right thing.  Give the insurance company the names of the investigating police officers so they can get the investigation information direct.  Help them help you. That way they have a report – a verbal report from the officers counts.  Then they should pay promptly for the damage caused by your neighbor.  By the way, what is the name of the insurance company?  I would like to expose their delay tactics.  Rod

 

Postscript: Dennis just reported that the Chief of Police is preparing an official report in light of the insurance company insistence.  Now the insurance company is left without any excuse to avoid/delay payment for damages cause by the neighbor’s failures, and which are clearly owed.

BREAKING AND ENTERING BY MY LANDLORD

 

  1. I live in an apartment complex that has a lockable garage where I store my custom motorcycle.  The other day, I saw the manager leaving my garage and I confronted him about trespassing.  He said he had the right to “inspect the premises” and make sure all was well.  I said it was my rental space and he had no right to come into my locked garage area unless there was a problem.  Can I keep the manager away or at least require him to give me notice of the dates and times he intends to inspect my garage?  ABATE MEMBER.
  2.  Review your written lease if you have one.  Most leases allow inspections for emergencies only.  If the landlord is violating the lease, you may have grounds for trespass/invasion of privacy.  Probably a threat of this will cause him to at least provide you notice in advance of the need for an inspection if he has a right to make one under the lease.  If there is no lease, tell him to stay out of your garage.


CHECKING ON THE LAWYERS

 

  1.  I have called a lawyer from a motorcycle publication about my motorcycle crash.  I am not sure where his offices are located and I am not sure he is licensed in my state.  How can I be sure that he is a licensed lawyer in my state?
  2.  Most states have an Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission that makes book on lawyers.  That commission compiles an annual list of lawyers authorized to practice law in your state.  You can also view records of any disciplinary actions that have been taken against that lawyer.  If the lawyer in not licensed to practice in your state, that information should be reported to the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission.  And for good reason, that lawyer may not be a lawyer in any state.


RADAR GUNS THAT SHOOT 2 AT A TIME – WHEN TO PULL OVER – HOW LONG TO WAIT?

 

  1. If I am in my truck and law enforcement “hits the rollers” behind me, I pull over. However, if the cop pulls over the guy behind me (or two or three), I would not expect to stop. If I am on my bike riding in a group, if the same situation occurs, who is expected to stop? Is there code or policy that covers this?  (A previous question by Jay Jackson, ABATE of Indiana with an update).
  2. I’ve spoken with law enforcement friends of mine about this. In general, if you believe an officer is trying to pull you over, you should stop and let the officer tell you whether he was intending to stop you or not. Since the question is what the officer intended to do, it would be difficult to convince a judge that you weren’t expected to pull over. Besides, most bikers want to stop and help their fellow riders in any event, even if only to be a witness? Of course, you should take care not to interfere with the officer, so you don’t end up with an obstruction of justice charge.

 

My law enforcement buddies tell me that it is highly unusual for an officer to stop multiple vehicles at the same time because it is dangerous, difficult to manage, and invariably leads to a ton of paperwork that the officer will not want to do. However, some of the newer radar guns can track speeds of multiple vehicles.  If the gun only tracks one vehicle, the officer usually tracks the slower vehicle and tickets the faster vehicle as traveling in excess of the speed of the slower vehicle.  Dan Jeffries, former Director of Alcohol Countermeasures for the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute and a former police officer, said “Honest mistakes happen when the officer is not as clear as he should be about “Who” he wants stopped out of a group.” Stopping a group of bikes is a little more commonplace. Generally, it is hard to single out one bike from the pack. Basically, there is no statute or code that covers this other than the one requiring you to pullover if directed.

 

Honest mistakes happen when the officer is not as clear as he should be about who he wants stopped out of a group. It may be better to be safe rather than sorry.  If the officer signals you to pull over and wait while he chases another vehicle, how long do you wait?  Ten minutes? Twenty minutes? Half an hour? That is a tough one to answer and is compounded by being in harms way along an interstate. Keep track of the time by a cell phone photo of the officer going after the other vehicle if you are safely stopped on the side of the road and can still see the officer.  If you decide to leave after a reasonable time, you can prove that it was reasonable.  You can explain that perhaps you misinterpreted the officer’s direction and that twenty minutes was long enough to be in a dangerous spot.  But I will leave that to you to explain to the judge, and smile a lot.

 

Most states require you to pull over to the right and stop when indicated by an officer’s flashing lights. Of course, if you are with a group of riders and everyone is over the speed limit, so be it. But if the last guy on the ride has a problem with his tail light, it’s hard to see how the officer had probable cause to stop anyone but the guy with his light out. To do otherwise is to violate the non-offender’s Fourth Amendment rights. If you have an abusive cop in your area that is consistently stopping groups of riders without probable cause for the group, you should call our office immediately. This is an important issue that needs to be addressed with the chief of police as soon as possible.

 

One of our ABATE lawyers actually has some experience with this situation. Many years ago, when he worked for the State, he and some friends were heading down US 41 to do some camping. There were two cars in their caravan heading down 41 with an exuberance that was perhaps in excess of the posted limits. Of course, a trooper in an unmarked car hits the lights behind him and motioned him off the roadway, along with his buddy, and a third vehicle that was traveling in front of them. The trooper came back to our lawyer’s car and asked for ID, whereon our intrepid traveler produced his state ID and badge. The officer took a couple of looks at the badge, asked which of the other cars he had stopped were part of the camping party, and sent them on their way with an admonishment to keep the speed down. As he drove away, he could see the trooper begin writing a ticket for the poor guy who wasn’t going camping. The moral? It’s helpful to travel with someone who has a badge.

 

  

GETTING SUED FOR A BIKE I DON’T OWN?

 

  1.  My ex-wife and I both ride.  In the divorce she was awarded the motorcycle and the court required her to pay the loan.  She has fallen behind on the payments and the bank is calling me.  Can they hold me responsible for paying for a motorcycle I no longer own?
  2. It’s possible. It depends on what happened in the divorce and if the loan you took out for the motorcycle was redone to remove you.  If you were not removed then you may still have liability. Check the loan documents carefully to see what obligations you have on the loan agreement. If you are still obligated, you should talk to your divorce lawyer about what can be done.   I am sure he will address this issue with your ex and the court that granted your divorce.



Ride Safe & Free,

 

Rod Taylor


ABATE Legal Services

abatelegal.com

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