Ask Our Lawyer – January 2020

Ask Our Lawyer

by Rod Taylor – ABATE Legal Services


Have you ever noticed a State Trooper standing on an overpass with binoculars aiming to tag those not wearing seat belts?  Here is a case that shouldn’t be.  Rick Nickols, a 40 plus year trucker with nary a traffic citation in over 7 million miles got one recently for not wearing a seatbelt.  The officer gave him a choice – low cost fine ($25) if he accepted the ticket or high cost fine ($180) if he wanted to contest it.  What’s with that?  Always thought requiring seat belts for truckers would be like requiring railroad engineers to wear seat belts.

And Rick did want to contest it as he was wearing his seatbelt.  Didn’t seem to matter to the officer that the seat belt was orange and the high visibility safety vest Rick was wearing (required by his employer) was orange,  or that from the officer’s point of view (on the overpass) he could not see the upper seat belt attach point because of the windshield tint and visor in the top part of the truck window.  If he could have, he would have noticed the belt was being used.

The officer’s parting comment was “who is the judge going to believe?  Me or you?  He knows me but he doesn’t know you.”  I really don’t like people that say things like that.  Rick maybe going to trial on this one and he wants to request a jury.  And he will bring with him a copy of his 40 year plus perfect driving record, and an enlarged photo of the seat belt with him wearing his orange safety vest.  And a photo from the overpass showing that it is impossible to distinguish the orange seat belt from the orange safety vest especially thru a sun visor.  Case over if there is justice in that court.

Will keep you posted as to how this goes.


We all have been greeted by a dog that would rather lick our face than eat.  A new study suggests that dogs became dogs because of a genetic condition in them that is also found in humans – the Williams-Beuren syndrome.  This syndrome causes intense friendliness with strangers.  As we know dogs were once wolves according to the experts, but this latest finding suggests that a human gene that causes Williams-Beuren has been found in dogs.  Williams-Beuren is described as having an unnatural willingness to befriend those that we do not know – the extroverted life of a party so to speak.  Scientists point out that the “Darwin survival of the fittest idea” would favor those who are suspicious of those we do not know.  So it is very natural for wolves to stay within their own pack for survival and not go socializing with other packs or species.

Dogs socialize with everything and everyone, whether dogs or not.  Growing up we had a pet pig, sheep and pony.  Our dogs adopted them.  When a neighbor came to visit, all of them would run to the gate as greeters as if they were one pack.

So, scientists conclude that long ago, wolves with the Williams-Beuren syndrome approached campfires of humans with tails wagging, tongues licking, looking for leftovers and became dogs by mating with wolves that felt the same way – and had the syndrome. Some say that we humans probably had better leftovers than the pack did.

After studying this idea, I am beginning to wonder if most bikers have the Williams – Beuren syndrome. No wonder we get along with dogs, turtles, hamsters, rabbits, pigs, horses and even cats – and most humans.  And are the most generous group of humans I know.


 The year 1909 was a time when there were no cars, generally speaking.  Just trains, horses, bicycles and most significantly motorcycles.   For a biker that meant almost nothing to watch out for.   It was August of that year and a guy by the name of Fisher (famous as the founder of the Indianapolis 500, Miami Beach and Presto-Lite) was holding the first race at the Indy 500; it was a motorcycle race.  William Harley and Walter Davidson were there along with their chief line foreman, and everybody that was anybody in motorcycling.

How do I know this?  While at the Indy Motorcycle Expo, I took in the Old Timers area.  There, the old flat trackers, hill climbers, and Daytona veterans were in force.  Some bring artifacts from the glory days, like Kenny Staughton.  For the last several decades the equivalent of the painting of the signing of the Declaration of Independence for motorcyclists has hung above Kenny’s living room couch.  It is one of those seven foot long – one foot high brown-toned photographs of old.  The photograph looks North on Meridian Street from the base of the Monument Circle.  (The site of the Motorcycles on Meridian that happens each summer) Positioned on about a third of the Circle are 250 motorcycles.  I can identify two-cylinder Indians and one-cylinder Harleys.  In those days Harley was not into speed, but endurance.  Indian was into speed.  So, two races were to happen.  One was the speed race at the Indy 500 and the other was an endurance race starting in Cleveland, down to Columbus, over to Dayton, then Richmond, just below Sky Castle Airport, Rushville and finally Indy.  Bill Harley and Walter Davidson won the endurance race and came together with the Indy racers for the photograph.  I can identify William Harley and Walter Davidson and the Harley Davidson factory foreman – I think.  Or at least that is my story and I’m sticking to it.  I thought about having a contest and naming it “Looking for Walter” after the kid game.

What is striking about the photo is there are almost no cars in the photo – maybe a lonely handmade Buick, but that is about it.  Around the sea of motorcycles are horse and carriages and a bicycle or two.  In 1909 we were truly a motorcycle nation.  Not till 1912 when Henry Ford implemented the assembly line in Detroit City did that change.  Bob Schulteti of Harley South-Side believes that Motorcycle Nation existed into the late teens before there were enough cars to make a difference.

While admiring Kenny’s wonderful photograph, I wondered aloud where the motorcyclists got gas, since there were no cars- no gas stations.  Bob Schulteti knew the answer – drug stores.  Imagine – a land before gas stations and no place to get a Big Gulp.

Kenny allowed us to get copies of his living room treasure.  I gave one of the copies to a friend and then a Board Member of the Indy 500 operation.  When the folks at the Indy 500 discovered they did not have that photo – of the first race at the Indy 500, and never knew it existed, by friend’s copy was requisitioned.  Next time you are in my office, take the time to gaze at a photograph that captured a time when America was a “motorcycle nation” – with not one gas station.




Q.  I was in a motorcycle accident recently, and the medical bills are starting to pile up.The other guy’s insurance company won’t pay the bills, even though the accident was clearly his fault.   I believe it is unfair that my insurance company should have to pay.  What should I do about all of these bills?  ABATE of OHIO MEMBER.

A.  There are several things you can do to protect your credit rating while you convalesce and try to maintain your household.Of course, you could let ABATE Legal Services team deal with the insurance company for you!  First, notify your motorcycle insurance carrier of the accident, and ask if you have medical payments coverage.  If you have this coverage, the insurance company will pay your medical provider if you are injured in an accident, regardless of who was at fault – up to the limits of your coverage.  Also, you should notify your health insurance carrier, so that they can pay the balance of the bills for your care.

Many people are reluctant to have their own medical/health insurance cover the bills, especially when it was the other person’s fault.  Don’t let that stop you! You paid insurance premiums for a reason, usually an hour at a time – so use it!

Most insurance companies have policy language requiring reimbursement for your medical bills caused by someone else’s fault.  If you are involved in an accident, your insurance carrier will send you a letter asserting a “right of subrogation.”  That is lawyer talk for the right to be repaid from any money you get from the wrongdoer or his insurance company.  Basically, the insurance company will pay your bills now in exchange for the right to be repaid from the proceeds of a settlement or judgment against the guy who caused the accident.  Almost certainly your contract/policy with the insurance company obligates you to reimburse them for the money they paid for your medical bills from the proceeds of your settlement.

This can work to your advantage, and here’s how.  Most settlements and judgments are based on the amount of the medical bills the accident victim incurred.  And insurance companies understand that the amount of the medical bills is a reflection, however imperfect, of the severity of the injury and factor settlements accordingly.

You should know that insurance companies have previously negotiated rates with health care providers that permit them to pay less than the billed amount for services rendered.  While the bill for the hospital may be $10,000, your insurance company may have only paid $6,000.  In that case, all you are obligated to pay back is the amount actually paid to the medical provider.

And ABATE Legal Services can help.  We have had success in negotiating with insurance carriers to minimize or eliminate subrogation repayments, so that $6,000 subrogation obligation described above could be significantly reduced depending on the facts of your case.

Don’t forget, you can always call the ABATE Legal Services team if you have any questions about your legal rights.



Q.  I was recently stopped for operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated. I refused the chemical test. After I refused the chemical test, a judge issued a court order to take my blood. Can you explain to me how the law can circumvent the Bill of Rights? To me this is a constitutional issue. ABATE MEMBER.

A.  From the information you provided, it sounds like the police may have acted within the requirements of the law. First, some background: most states have enacted “implied consent” laws into their statutes relating to drivers’ licenses. Crazy as it sounds, the courts have held that driving is a privilege, not a right, and not subject to the usual protections. In effect, by obtaining a license, you have consented to submit to a chemical test if you are stopped on suspicion of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated. If you refuse the chemical test, your license will be suspended.

That brings us to your case. In many states, courts have ruled that once a chemical test is refused, the police can obtain an order from a judge to obtain a blood sample. Once that warrant has been obtained, the police can have blood drawn for a chemical test to determine intoxication. From your description, it appears that is what happened. The United States Supreme Court has held that drawing blood and deriving evidence from that blood sample does not violate the self-incrimination protections of the Fifth Amendment. State courts, building on that holding, have stated that blood drawn as a result of a search warrant cannot be excluded unless there is a specific provision in the implied consent statute to the contrary.

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: © 2020.

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