Ask Our Lawyer – January 2021

Ask Our Lawyer

by Rod Taylor – ABATE Legal Services


Q.  Our local ABATE group is having an event that supports a local charity.  We play music over our sound system with an iPod.  Do we really need a license to play music we already paid to download?  And what if we don’t pay? ABATE of Indiana member.

A.  If you play music publicly, and there is a charge for admission, you have to pay for songs that are in the registry of outfits that are watching for those that play and don’t pay.  The largest of these groups are BMI, SESAC and ASCAP.  I have dealt with these outfits and they are not fun.                  Their job is to catch folks like you playing the music of their clients without permission.  They are like bounty hunters and I suspect they get paid per scalp.  Understanding licensing laws isn’t easy, and it can be tempting to do what you want to do and hope you won’t get caught. That isn’t wise. Most come to events and festivals armed with phones with cameras that can be posted to the internet.  A clever representative of a company like BMI or ASCAP needs only to look at that clip for proof that you are using music without a license.  The law is on their side if they take you to court and ask for thousands of dollars in damages depending on the crowd.

If you do not get a license to play the registered songs and if you do not get caught – no problem (that comment ignores the ethical issue of a rights organization).  Like with the IRS, as long as you don’t get caught cheating on your taxes, you can get by with it.  But that is not the way our country works. We are mostly voluntary compliance types in this country and that is the way it should be with compensating those who have valid rights for the use of their music.  Problem is many do not know that a high school marching band, an aerobics class playing music, a bar playing Elvis and Roy Orbison songs and a do gooder organization all need a license to play registered songs in a commercial environment. 

 Some songs are not registered, but you probably would not want to play those unless your crowd is a fan of John Phillips Sousa or maybe Roy Rogers.  You get the idea.

What happens if you don’t pay?  They can throw the book at you and get big bucks in the form of fines and damages.  To avoid big-fine city, you need to buy a license to play music at your commercial events, especially when there is a charge for admission. If you are having friends over to your home for a barbeque – no problem and no license required.   The cost for a  license for your chapter event depends on several factors i.e. number of songs, number of people attending etc.  Check out the website for BMI and ASCAP.  The site and explanations for what you need are very straightforward and easy to use.  Spread the word on this as motorcycle rights organizations such as ours need to set the example.  If you have more questions call me.


Q.  My late wife’s son was badly injured in a motorcycle crash and I want to get appointed as guardian, or at least I think I do?  She left him considerable funds.  What are my responsibilities as a guardian?  ABATE of Ohio Member          

A.  The court will require you to care for and manage your step-son’s estate prudently, and may authorize you to spend your ward’s (step-son’s) money for his comfort, support and education.  If the Estate has enough money, you can be paid for serving as a guardian.  Your bill for services, however, must be supported by careful records, and be approved by the court prior to you being paid.  


Most of my riding life has been done with safety equipment that I have owned for years – old-fashioned stuff.  I have my leather, steel toed boots that come to my knees, the same Hein-Gericke jacket and matching chaps that weigh a hundred pounds when wet, and of course, my Ace Hardware yellow leather gloves. When geared up, I look like an extra in the movie “Cruising”, except for the gloves.  What more do you need, you ask?  Let me tell you what I have learned that may save you some time and a hide transplant in Memorial Hospital.  And I am speaking to a lot of riders my age that have grown comfortable with traditional riding gear, and do not get it or even care about the new stuff that is out there.  Don’t get me wrong, as I am not about to go out and buy something colored green, but I am paying attention to friends that went down and survived without a stay in the hospital because of what they were wearing. 

Based on the following episode that will be described in detail, I am the owner of  First Gear items that I have grown to like (it is not green).  All of which were selected for me by the folks at Cycle Outfitters.  Harley shops sell similar good stuff. This equipment is top notch, comfortable, easy to get on – and off – rain proof and will do the job if you have a chance to go sliding down your favorite stretch of asphalt when the little old lady with blue hair (or old man with no hair) doesn’t see you.  I can’t tell you how painful it was for me to give up my knee high steel-toed boots that I have been training for years, but I did it.  They sold me some boot replacements that are rainproof and more sure-footed, and are comfortable to walk in.

            Imagine this:  you are riding along at the speed limit with no particular place to go.  Life is good and so is the sun. Then it happens.  A car from nowhere blasts you from the side and propels you into the air. You travel over 125 feet before Isaac Newton is proven correct – again.  What do you think about during the air time? Here are examples of  reports I have received over the years and in particular the good end results caused by wearing proper motorcycle apparel.

            Usually, no one can talk me out of my habits. That is until I spoke with Jay Jackson (the Dean of modern motorcycling).  And a clincher was the guy that flew over 125 feet in the air, landed;  laid still for a minute to see if his parts still worked, and then walked away with a beer-winning war story.  Friends like Rick Chupp tangled with a cager pulling a trailer on I-70; Jay Jackson survived a charge by a moose of a deer on I-74. Jay had nary a scratch and Rick lived to see another day. Both wonder what would have happened if they weren’t wearing good gear.  The experience of these folks talked me into leaving my long time  habits.

Now for the war story… You will hardly ever hear me tell sad tales of motorcycle incidents. I ride and I just don’t like to dwell on the unpleasant. Besides, there but for the grace of the Almighty, goes me. Well, here is what happened to the flying motorcyclist.  When the collision and subsequent launch occurred, he remembered thinking that he couldn’t believe this was happening to him and wondering how much the landing was going to hurt. Many have reported to me how long it seems that you fly through the air and how much time you have to think about things before you land. I tried to calculate the time you have when you are launched 125′.   Engineers claim we travel 22′ feet per second at 15MPH. I have to assume that it takes us awhile to get up to speed after we are hit – like maybe a couple of seconds. So add two seconds to the over six seconds we fly through the air for 125’.  With that amount of time we have an eternity to think about life and such. I am in awe of the way people describe these seconds in a near mystical/religious manner. In short, this time is nearly always described as seeming far longer than it is.  Like Mother Nature is letting you savor what may be the last healthy moments of your life.  Thinking things like; what you should have said to your mother-in-law or your asshole boss….

            Now for the landing part; he came down on his side, and all he remembers is sliding and sliding. They all do. That and the heat on his left knee and elbow. The shoulder comes next when his feet catch a hump in the ground and cause him to tumble uncontrollably.  He feels the tips of his state-of-the-art boots doing what they are supposed to do. He feels the body armor in his knee and shoulder pads go to work. His gloves go to work next – and they are not Ace Hardware specials. (Interesting fact: skin on the palms of your hands can’t be transplanted so always wear gloves). He remembers the heat build-up in his gloves and that the time of sliding seemed to never end. But it did. He laid there – totally still. Then, like he was running a check-list for an airplane flight, he methodically surveyed the movement and operation of his parts. Joy! They all worked.  He slowly rises to stand. People around him are screaming for him to stay down. He just smiles with the recognition that he has just been shot at and missed. He will remember this day until  he dies.

            The voices of those coming to help him are muffled as he takes inventory of his riding gear. His riding gloves did the job, but they are now souvenirs of a bad day. His body-armored jacket and pants are now odes to good judgment.  He refuses the offer of the EMT to get checked out as he is just fine – some lawyers hate that.  He is now a disciple of this riding gear and will proselytize all of those who will listen for as long as he lives. When asked how he would have fared without his body armor, he says, “at best, he would have been laid up a long time.”

            Enter Rod Taylor.  After hearing this amazing tale of survival, and despite being a creature of stubborn habits, I am a convert to this kind of riding gear. My leather jacket and boots have been semi-retired, but I still have my Ace Hardware gloves -not sure why.  I have now entered the world of modern riding apparel.


Q. Rod. While riding last week, my buddy hit me from behind. My bike was trashed, but I escaped with minor injuries – I think. Can I trust the insurance company to do the right thing with me? I also don’t want the insurance company to give my friend a hard time. How should I handle this situation?

A. Don’t trust the insurance company to do the right thing.  Some do, but some don’t. They are not on your side. Their job is to pay you as little as possible. That said, the insurance company is motivated to settle your claim  quickly – within reason.  It costs them money to handle claims. 

Separate the damage to your bike (property damage claim) from your personal injury claim. Your friend’s insurance company should fix your bike ASAP. If they want you to sign a release for the damage to your bike, make sure that release is for your property damage only. Better yet, send me a copy and I will make sure it is ok for you to sign. You are also entitled to damages for loss of use of your motorcycle. Don’t let them tell you because you have other modes of transportation that you are not entitled to loss of use.  The law allows you reasonable loss of use. As to your personal injury claim, make sure that your doctor has fully examined your injuries and that you are healed.  If that loss is minor, call me and I will give you some pointers.  There are time limits for your case and you should discuss that with me asap.  If the insurance company is unreasonable, tell them you are going to hire a lawyer. That usually gets them to deal fairly. If not, call me. If your personal injury is serious you need a lawyer.  It is not a fair fight between  an  experienced insurance adjuster and you.  Remember does not count unless it is in writing, so get the email or cell number of the adjuster and confirm everything they tell you when they tell you. 

Ride safe,  Rod  

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 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: © 2021.

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