Ask Our Lawyer – October 2019

Ask Our Lawyer

by Rod Taylor – ABATE Legal Services


 Nationwide—Labor Day weekend was one of the busiest on the roads and was the final weekend in the Summer’s 100 Deadliest Days of Driving. Before you hit the road for any other motorcycle trips, check out this list of the deadliest highways in the US.

Indiana’s deadliest highway is I-70 with 17 fatalities (so far) during the summer months. I-70 and I-80 are both top three deadliest highways in six different states. Florida has the road with the highest number of traffic fatalities during this time period. There were 160 deaths on I-10 during summertime in 2015, 2016, and 2017. That’s the most on a single road on the entire list.

Find the nationwide list here: 


A 28 year-old motorcyclist from Columbus would have liked to have had the above information about I-70 and warnings regarding road conditions before he hit the “potholes from Hell” just East of Indy.  He was riding a nearly new Honda Rebel – not exactly a high-powered motorcycle when he hit a series of potholes in the westbound “slow lane”.  This happened around noon on Aug. 1.  Those ‘hellholes” tore a gigantic gash in his front tire, severely bent his front forks causing loss of control and slamming him to the road.  The crash was so horrific that he lost his life.   A pregnant wife was waiting for him at home.  That slow lane was inherently dangerous for all who traveled it heading west bound toward Indy and clearly should have been closed for traffic, or at least warned about.  Guess what?  Those potholes from hell still have not been fixed over a month later.  Doesn’t anybody care anymore?


Dear ABATE Legal – On August 9th, 2019, my wife traded her (used) 2018 Indian Scout and took delivery of a (new) 2018 Suzuki Burgman from World of Powersports in Springfield, IL (WOPS). With exception of the owner’s manual missing from the new bike, we expected (and received copies) for all relevant documentation necessary to title & register the Burgman. On August 31st, my wife received in the mail from WOPS a blank document titled ‘Illinois Secure Power of Attorney’. There was no explanation and their only requirement was for us to affix signatures next to their ‘post-it’ arrow. We’re not accustomed to signing away power of attorney without explanation (or understanding). Is this something new or required for title and registration on new motorcycles purchased in Illinois? Why didn’t the WOPS business manager have this form completed when taking delivery on August 9th? I’m seeking your counsel and reassurance this step is necessary for a new untitled bike before contacting WOPS. Please note we signed over our lien free title on the Scout, leaving me to now question the title process on the new Burgman. Wouldn’t the manufacturer (Suzuki) provide title whereby the dealer simply submits it to Illinois so as to ultimately affirm our ownership and registration? I don’t recall needing to complete this form for prior vehicles and it caught me by surprise. However, I do have more ‘senior moments’ in my retirement.  I’ve tried to be brief, but will answer or provide documentation for questions you have. Your articles in the Newsletter are the best reading – Thank you for your commitment to motorcycling and ABATE. Sincere regards,  Terri & Duane Ladage.

  1. Suzuki does not provide a title, but merely a certificate of origin for a new vehicle.Traditionally, the dealer will submit that certificate to the Illinois Secretary of State and secure a title for the purchaser.This is the practice in most states and avoids a title being made in the dealer’s name and then being transferred to the purchaser.  The dealer will apply for the title as the purchaser’s agent with a power of attorney.  The cost of two titles is significant; so, the purchaser is better off paying for only one. This is why World of Powersports have requested the executed power of attorney.  They simply failed to have all the paperwork completed at the time of sale.  It was a minor error on their part.  Am uncertain if the purchaser can directly ask the Secretary of State to convert a certificate of origin to a title.  It may require a licensed and bonded dealer to do this, but you do not want or need to go through that hassle.



Mayor Harry Jennings of South Jacksonville refuses to allow ABATE to post a motorcycle awareness message on the village’s billboard because the message constitutes “private use” of public property.  The proposed message identifies the chapter; shows the photos, names, & date of death of two young riders killed; and safety messages. Mayor Jennings apparently believes the proposed message constitutes “private use” for two reasons:

  1. The message advertises a private business.A.B.A.T.E. of Illinois and its chapters are not a private business.  Rather, it is a civic organization recognized as a §501(c)(4) entity by the Internal Revenue Service.  The organization’s primary goals are promoting motorcyclists’ rights and safety. This particular intended message relates solely to motorcycling safety and does not promote either A.B.A.T.E. or any monetary interest of that organization.

The mere fact that Tri-County is mentioned in the message has no more significance than showing Alzheimer’s Association on a specialty license plate.  In fact, Illinois recognizes many organizations on related specialty plates.  Illinois has no problems recognizing D.A.R. on the many monuments it has erected along the old Eighth Judicial Circuit that Abraham Lincoln rode as a lawyer.  These monuments are on public highway rights-of-way.

  1. The message is a memorial.  The State of Illinois and its political subdivisions frequently memorialize individuals whose lives (or deaths) contributed to the public interest.  If this were not so, then Jacksonville should remove the obelisk memorial to Morgan County’s civil war soldiers.  Also, the State should remove the statue of Martin Luther King, Jr by the State Capitol – as well as all the Abraham Lincoln statues and plaques throughout the State.  The proposed message does not memorialize the dead bikers as individuals, but as victims of carelessness that can be prevented if motorists would only be more aware, would look twice, and would “Start Seeing Motorcycles.”  Their images, names, and dates of death are given only to make the safety message more powerful.  This is a legitimate public purpose and use of public property.  The proposed message should be viewed as a “public service announcement” similar to what is required of radio and television broadcasters by the FCC.  Such announcements have long been recognized as serving legitimate public purposes.  The State of Illinois spends millions of dollars annually on traffic safety.  What ABATE (Tri-County) proposes to do with this billboard has the same public (cf., private) goal as that of the State when it comes to saving lives. (Springfield sage, George Tinkham contributed to this response)



In Knutson v. Village of Lakemoor, The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit Affirmed a Federal Court holding that court did not err in dismissing the case for failure to state a valid cause of action.  Plaintiffs alleged that defendant-City violated due process rights by issuing notices of red-light camera violations that failed to cite specific reference to section of municipal code that plaintiff had allegedly violated.  Court held that defendant provided plaintiff with adequate due process, where permitted defenses in code allowed plaintiffs to refute or alleviate their culpability.  The court also rejected plaintiffs’ claim that notices were void due to failure to cite specific code violations, since any requirement for specific reference to code violation was merely directory, as opposed to mandatory. Moreover, plaintiffs had ample information to generate a defense, where notices had multiple pictures of plaintiffs’ registered vehicle, along with time, date and location of violation. Like it or not – Big Brother is here.

 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 motorcycle crash cases, and expenses as approved by client. Elsewhere, you may pay 33 ⅓%, 40% or even 50% of your recovery.  In those cases, ABATE members are not charged for recovery of damage to their motorcycle, and have access to a 24-hour toll-free telephone number. Call us at 1-(800)-25-RIDER. Questions? Submit them to: © 2019.

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