Ask Our Lawyer March 2016

Ask Our Lawyer

by Rod Taylor – ABATE Legal Services




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!






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.]



  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.



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.



  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.



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


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:  © 2016.

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