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Ask Our Lawyer - November 2012

WHO GIVES A SCRAP?

RoadHazard.org is an essential tool for keeping our roadways safe. Simply load the web site, enter the location, and describe the hazard so that notice can be provided to those responsible for the repairs.

Recently we received reports of debris on roadways near a metal scrap yard. Metal scraps were falling from customer vehicles and no one was clearing that debris from the roadway. After a series of motorcycle flats (3), RoadHazard received photos and other evidence of dangerous debris that would turn any ride into a survival game. To date, the scrap yard has cleaned the area and has paid for the tires flattened by the metal debris.

Without these incidents being reported to RoadHazard.org, these motorcyclists would have chalked their flats up to bad luck and gone about their business. It helps to have these incidents on record when you take on the big boys. With that said, we would like to thank OmniSource for stepping up and taking care of the situation.

A CHANGE OF HABIT - MOTORCYCLE APPAREL

Most of my riding life has been done with safety equipment that I have owned for years - old-fashioned stuff. I have my steel toed boots that come to my knees, the same Hein-Gericke jacket and matching chaps that will weigh a hundred pounds when rained on, and of course, my Ace Hardware yellow leather gloves. When geared up, I look like an extra in the movie “Cruising”. 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 because it’s easier to be seen, but I am paying attention to some 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 some 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 - Rick Chupp’s place of business. This equipment is made by Tucker Rocky and 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. Rick sold me some replacements that are rainproof and more sure-footed, and are comfortable enough to walk great distances.

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 this time? Here is a summary of the 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 talked with Andre Lacy (owner of Tucker Rocky), Rick Chupp (owner of Motorcycle Outfitters) and Jay Jackson (the Thomas Jefferson of modern motorcycling). And the ultimate clincher was when I talked with the guy above 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 prize-winning war story. These folks talked me into leaving my habits of over four score. Here is why: Andre Lacy took a two roll tumble in the mountains of Spain; Rick Chupp tangled with a four wheeler on I-70; Jay Jackson survived a charge by a moose of a deer on I-74. Two had nary a scratch and Rick lived to see another day.

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 as to 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 how much time you have when you are launched 125'. See what you think. They say 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 and we have an eternity to think about life and why we didn't sleep in a little longer. I love 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 actually is. It is like Mother Nature is letting you savor what may be the last healthy moments of your life. You think things like; what you should have really 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). 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 list for an airplane flight, he methodically checked the movement and operation of his parts. Joy! They all work. He slowly rises to stand. People around him are screaming for him to lay down. He just smiles back at them with the recognition that he has just been shot at and missed. This is a day he will remember till the day 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. 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 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 retired, but I still have my Ace Hardware gloves. Not sure why. I have now entered the world of modern riding apparel.

DOC JONES WILL RIDE AGAIN

Just talked with Doc Jones - former head of A.B.A.T.E. of Illinois and an MRF mover and shaker, and the world's best veterinarian. Recall that Mother Nature dealt him a bad card - the ALS Lou Gehrig's card. While he is in the advanced stages of that horrible affliction (wheelchair bound and needs portable breathing machine) he has the most wonderful attitude. He and Patsy just got back from visiting their daughters in California - one is in the military and the other is a student a USC. His description of Patsy driving their long, long trailer down from the mountains west of Flagstaff is a story of pure love and blind faith. White knuckles all the way.

Doc wants to make the Miracle Ride again in my 84 shovel with a sidecar. It seems that his condition has stabilized and he wants to ride again. God Bless him. I strive to be just half the man he is.

MY BUDDY JUST HIT ME

Q. Rod. While riding last week, my buddy hit me from behind. My bike is 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. They are not on your side. Their job is to pay you as little money as they can. That said, the insurance company is motivated to settle your claim within reason. Separate the damage to your bike (property 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. Don't let them tell you that because you have other modes of transportation that you are not entitled to loss of use, as that is not the law. As to your personal injury claim, make sure that your doctor has fully examined all of your injuries and that none are permanent. If that loss is minor, call me and I will give you some pointers. If the insurance company is unreasonable, tell them you are going to hire me. That usually gets them to deal fairly. If not, call me.

Ride Safe and Free,

Rod Taylor
ABATE Legal Services

ABATE, though many know it not, is one of the greatest rights organizations ever; but what it reaches for, by far exceeds what it has achieved, and what it has achieved is magnificent.

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 (800) 25-RIDER. Questions? Submit them to RodTaylor@abatelegalcom. © 2012.

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