Ask Our Lawyer – September 2020

Ask Our Lawyer

by Rod Taylor – ABATE Legal Services

UH-BATE IT IS

Hi Rod, first off I’d like to thank Brian Shadiow and yourself and your office for the preparation of my Will.  That’s a valuable service you provide and much appreciated!  In your column this month there was a question about the pronunciation of ABATE.  I know this is a trivial issue, especially in light of our Country’s current events.  Anyway, the dictionary pronunciation for the organization ABATE is abate (əˈbāt or uh-beit).  ABATE originally stood for A Brotherhood Against Totalitarian Enactments but has since stood for American Bikers Against Totalitarian Enactments; American Bikers for Awareness, Training and Education; A Brotherhood Aimed Towards Education; and American Bikers Aimed Towards Education.  In 1972 I was a sophomore in High School, working in a small truck stop when a driver left a well used copy of EasyRiders magazine with an article about the National Custom Cycle Association, but the membership application information was missing.  After two phone calls I got to speak to Lou Kimsey and was told the NCCA’s name was changed to ABATE and was told what the letters stood for, so I got the pronunciation right from the founders mouth. Hope this finds you well.

– M.E. Evans Jr., Canfield Ohio

STATE FARM AGENT LIKES ROD’S ARTICLES – HERE IS WHY

Rod -Thank you for the great articles every month.  As an Abate member, an avid motorcyclist, and insurance agent, I look forward with great interest to your article each month in the Hoosier Motorcyclist.  In my office, we work hard to educate our customers on the coverage’s you frequently write about.  I was rereading your article from July about uninsured/underinsured coverage and wanted to share an idea with you and ask you a question.  State Farm no longer offers uninsured/underinsured coverage on our Personal Liability Umbrella Policy.  However, you can still get 1MM of uninsured/underinsured on your individual motorcycle policy if you carry 1MM in BIPD.  Could I get your permission to reprint that article and share it with our customers that ride?  I know I’m preaching to the choir, but I’m trying to share this with all our customers that ride! Sincerely, David Wiese, State Farm Agent Attica, IN Phone: (765) 762-6151 

David, Hoosier Motorcyclist is ok with your reprinting the article referred to below.  Please give ABATE credit in your brochure.  We need all the members we can get.  And thanks for being an ABATE member and watching out for your insured motorcyclists.  I will be reprinting your email to me so we can all learn.  Ride safe. Rod  

SEE BELOW!

MUST READ MUST READ MUST READ

YOU NEVER NEED UN/UNDERINSURED MOTORIST COVERAGE – UNTIL YOU NEED IT. 

ALWAYS BUY AS MUCH AS YOU CAN GET TO PROTECT YOURSELF AND YOUR FAMILY. IT IS CHEAP!  

SOME SUPERSTITIOUS PEOPLE BELIEVE THAT IF YOU HAVE LIFE INSURANCE YOU WON’T DIE.  MAYBE THAT SAME WARPED THINKING WORKS WITH UN/UNDERINSURED COVERAGE?  THAT YOU WON’T GET RUN OVER BY A NEAR DO WELL IF YOU HAVE IT?  IT HURTS THE SAME WHEN YOU GET RUN OVER BY SOMEONE THAT HAS PLENTY OF INSURANCE, BUT IT HAS TO FEEL A LITTLE BETTER WHEN YOU HAVE PROTECTED YOU AND YOUR FAMILY.  BUY IT TODAY – TELL THEM ROD SENT YOU!

BLOW IT OUT YOUR PIPES? CAN THEY REALLY IMPOUND MY BIKE?

Q.  I was riding my bike the other day, when a local cop stopped me for not having a muffler on my bike. I have an expensive custom bike, and it has pipes, but no baffles. The cop and I got into it a little bit, and he threatened to have my bike impounded. I was afraid that if they impounded my bike, it would have been damaged, so I backed down. I’m still mad about it, though. Can they do that? A.B.A.T.E  member.

A.  As with most legal questions, the answer is, it depends. Mostly, it depends on where you live and what the law is there. In Indiana and Ohio, inappropriate mufflers are subject to citation and fine as misdemeanors.

The officer can stop you and give you a ticket, and you will more than likely be allowed to roll on down the road. In Illinois, however, the law is much more strictly written.

Under Illinois law, “ It is unlawful for any person to drive or move or for the owner to cause or knowingly permit to be driven or moved on any highway any vehicle . . . which is equipped in any manner in violation of this Code.” See the details of the circumstance where you can be towed in Illinois Vehicle Code 625 ILCS 5/11-1302.

The Illinois vehicle code requires that “Every motor vehicle driven or operated upon the highways of this State shall at all times be equipped with an adequate muffler or exhaust system in constant operation and properly maintained to prevent any excessive or unusual noise. No such muffler or exhaust system shall be equipped with a cutout, bypass or similar device.

No person shall modify the exhaust system of a motor vehicle in a manner which will amplify or increase the noise of such vehicle above that emitted by the muffler originally installed on the vehicle, and such original muffler shall comply with all the requirements of this Section.”

Since the statute declares that a vehicle in violation of the vehicle code shall not “be driven or moved on any highway,” the officer would be within his authority to impound the bike and have it towed.

Neither Indiana or Ohio have the same sort of language. Both of those states make it an infraction (Indiana) or minor misdemeanor (Ohio),but neither statute authorizes the officer to impound the bike. So if you feel like racking those pipes off (within reason) in Indiana and Ohio you can do so with some assurance that the cop won’t impound your bike unless you are really disturbing the peace.  In Illinois – go quietly as the little old lady that you awake could be the cop’s mom. 

NO FEET AT A STOP?  DID YOU RUN THE SIGN?

Q.  I have been an ABATE member and rider for more than 20 years. Last week I was riding and came up to a stop sign. I was able to stop without putting my feet down. The local town cop saw me and arrested me for “running the stop sign.” I thought all you had to do at a stop sign was stop. The cop laughed at me when I used that excuse. Should I fight this or let it go? P.S. I have a CDL license and this could affect my job.  ABATE MEMBER.

A.  FIGHT, FIGHT, FIGHT. You are a CDL holder and you have no choice but to fight. Serious points will be assessed against your CDL license if you don’t.  (It has always stuck in my craw that the points are assessed against your CDL licence when you are on your motorcycle – not your truck). The cop is just plain wrong and needs to be educated. This case reminded us of one in Springfield where a bicyclist was ticketed by a cop for running a stop sign when the two wheel operator failed to put his feet down at a stop sign. The cyclists argued with the cop that he merely balanced the bike at a full stop and then proceeded through the sign. The officer did not buy it nor did the judge, who could not believe that a cyclist can balance a bike at a full stop. The cyclist offered to demonstrate his ability to the court with the bike. To the judge’s surprise, the balance was shown and the case was ordered dismissed.

Many of us get very good at stopping with no feet. The slow ride at biker events allows most of us to practice this to perfection, but most cops are under the illusion that if you don’t put your feet down you did not stop. There is a presumption against us that there is motion unless one foot is on the ground. THAT IS NOT THE LAW. Usually there are two defenses to this type of allegation; 1. I had my foot down and the cop didn’t see it or the cop was lying (judges usually don’t go for the last one) or 2. I don’t have to put my foot down because I can balance the bike. WARNING: be prepared to demo your balance skill to the court. ADVICE: if you are short on time, it is easier to put a foot down.

PROVING THE VALUE OF YOUR CUSTOM BIKE TO THE INSURANCE GUYS

Q.  I have a bike that I bought stock five years ago and have made a number of improvements to it including a lot of chrome, custom paint, and other customized equipment. My bike was stolen last month, and the insurance company only wants to offer me book value for the bike. By my estimation, it’s worth about twice the book value of a stock bike. Is there any way I can convince the insurance company to re-evaluate their offer?

A.  There may be a way to do that, but it depends on how good your records are. Most insurance policies cover customization and items added to bikes, but the insurance company has to be assured that the customizations that you claim you added were actually added to the bike and became a part of the bike. There are a number of ways to do that. The easiest and best way is to document all the customizations done to the bike. This means keeping meticulous records of the modifications done to the bike, who did them, when they were done, how much they cost, and what effect those customizations had on the value of the bike. Oftentimes that requires hiring the services of an appraiser to evaluate the bike with and without the modifications.  And take lots of photos and send them to your insurance representative – before your bike gets stolen, of course.

Let’s assume you did a custom job with three distinct components: First, you did some body work – you put on a new fork, new handlebars, and new wheels. You did that during the course of one season and didn’t plan on doing any more work that season. It would be a good idea once that work was completed, to take pictures of the bike, put those together with all the receipts from the work done to the bike and send copies of that information to your insurance company.  At that point you should get an appraisal for the bike. Often, appraisers work at a motorcycle shop or dealer. You especially want an appraisal if the value of the bike together with the additions is more than what you paid for the bike plus the value of the additions. For example, you bought the bike for $5,000.00; you added $5,000.00 worth of additions, but those additions and your sweat equity caused the bike to be worth $15,000.00 rather than just the value of the bike plus the parts, which was $10,000.00. An appraisal will prove to the insurance company that the bike is worth more than the sum of its parts.

Now let’s assume it’s the next season, and you have added a lot of chrome to the bike. Again, you should take pictures of the bike, keep copies of the receipts, describe the work done, and submit that info to the insurance company for their files.  Suppose later on you decided to complete the customization and get a special paint job on it. Once that work is finished, you need an appraisal of the value of the bike to show the insurance company what it’s worth with all the customizations. With those documents, you will be in a good position to prove the value of the bike to the insurance company should you need to make a claim.

Remember, some insurance companies offer special coverage for customizations or for bikes with historic or antique value. If your bike has value for collectors beyond the book value for a stock bike, check with your insurance agent about modifying your insurance to make sure your investment is covered.  Some insurance companies offer coverage for a specific supported value.  This might be your best way to go.   Never forget that with insurance companies, if it is not in writing it doesn’t count.  Get email addresses of your insurance company reps and make book on them, because they are making book on you. Meaning, you should confirm every conversation and send them every doc and photo you have.  If that doesn’t work, call us.

Ride Safe & Free,

Rod Taylor

ABATE Legal Services

http://www.abatelegal.com 

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 the 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: RodTaylor@abatelegal.com. © 2020.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s