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Ask Our Lawyer - August 2012

AUDIO ELECTRONICS AND HAWG WIRED - THE CAT’S MEOW FOR OLD HARLEY RADIOS

For those of you that have older Harleys still equipped with radios/cassette players and can’t find a modern radio that will still connect to your handlebar controls, I have found the fix. After miles of hard roads and worse, the am/fm cassette player on my FLHTC hung a left on me. I called Harley and they do not carry a new radio that connects to the handlebar controls or has the volume/speed control. I guess they are not in the antique business. My choice then, was to put in a radio that bypasses the handlebar controls or try to get my old radio repaired by the original manufacturer. Bob Schulteti -Harley South-Side did a wonderful job getting my ‘96 fixed, but the original manufacturer (located in Cincinnati) thinks a lot of their repair skills. The radio works like new, but remember it has a cassette player and is not up to par with what Harley sells with new dressers. That is what I wanted.

Enter Bob Nevitt of Audio Electronics. He not only runs a wonderful electronics shop for cagers, he does a good business outfitting all kinds of motorcycles with the latest in audio equipment. Most significantly he has stereos with a wiring harness that fits older Harleys like mine. If you need a radio/stereo that has all of the modern conveniences he (or someone in your area) can fix you up for a reasonable cost - 317 253 2495. They are using wiring harnesses and systems made by HawgWired.com. They say it is good stuff and most importantly, it fits our old stuff.

PRIVATE COMPANIES - SPECIAL RULES FOR MOTORCYCLISTS?

Q. Is it legal for my employer to require employees to wear a helmet on plant property or face penalties even though our state law does not require endorsed riders to wear a helmet? ABATE member.

Following is the response of Jay Jackson, Executive Director of ABATE of Indiana and serves on the Board of the MRF.

We find it distasteful, but it definitely is not "illegal". The property owner (certainly the employer) can have whatever policies they choose. You may remember the situation a few years ago with Sturm-Ruger. If you recall, a number of "bikers" purchased stock and attended the shareholders meeting to express their displeasure. Given an opportunity, I'd love an audience with the powers that be at this particular facility to discuss this (education, not legislation), but I expect this is a corporate decision.

P.S. from Rod

You might try offering the company a waiver for the motorcyclists that work at that plant as a way of resolving this issue. If the company needs a form waiver that would work, let me know as it would give their lawyers a head start. I suspect those lawyers in the front office may be trying to justify their existence. If that is the case, advise them that in all my years of representing bikers, I have never had a parking lot case involving serious injuries with a motorcycle- and that my friend, is a lot of decades and a lot of parking lots.

CAN MY EMPLOYER GET AWAY WITH THIS?

Q: I’m a mechanic in a local bike shop, and my employer recently told me I need to sign an agreement that I won’t work for another shop within a ten mile radius if I leave my current job. I don’t think that’s fair. There are a number of bike shops around here, and almost all of them are within ten miles from my current employer. Can they really enforce that agreement against me?

A: Probably. What they have asked you to sign is called a non-compete agreement. It used to be that non-compete agreements were used only with managers or sales personnel. They, however, are becoming more common with service personnel who can develop relationships with customers and then have the ability to entice those customers to follow them to a new employer.

Even though non-compete agreements are not favored by the law, if employers follow the rules, those agreements are generally enforceable, provided the employer can show a reasonable belief that a departing employee can take advantage of customer relationships. But, non-compete agreements have to be reasonable in their restrictions. They can restrict a person from working in the same field, but only for a reasonable time period or within a reasonable distance from the employer’s service area.

If your employer makes it a condition of your employment, you may have no choice but to sign the agreement if you want to keep working there. If you sign the agreement and leave the job later, the employer can ask a court to prevent you from working for a competitor. If the court finds that the agreement contains reasonable restrictions, and doesn’t unfairly limit your rights to find a new job, the court could enter an order preventing you from working for the competitor or assess damages against you.


ADD INSULT TO INJURY

Q: I work at a local manufacturing shop. I got hurt on the job recently, and filed a worker’s comp claim. Shortly after I returned to work, I got fired, and I don’t think they had any reason. Also, when they fired me, they didn’t pay me my accrued vacation pay. What can I do? ABATE member.

A: Maybe quite a lot. One of the first issues to consider is the reason or reasons you were fired. Generally, employers will give some reason as to why an employee was being fired. Most states, including Ohio, Indiana and Illinois, have provisions in their statutes that forbid so-called “retaliatory discharge,” or being fired for filing a worker’s compensation claim. While it may be obvious to us to make the connection between the worker’s comp claim and the firing, the employers will often attempt to justify the discharge with evidence that there were other reasons for the discharge. Good record-keeping and sympathetic witnesses can help overcome this hurdle. Penalties for retaliatory discharge can include back pay, reinstatement and attorney’s fees. In addition, the wage claim statutes in Indiana and Illinois also require that, upon discharge, employees are to be compensated for accrued vacation time, usually by the next scheduled payday. Failure to do so may lead to additional penalties and an award of attorney’s fees. The answer is much less clear under Ohio law and may depend on whether the employee is covered by a collective bargaining agreement or employed by a state or municipal agency. There may be disagreements, however, over whether the time has been accrued or not, or how much has been accrued. It is important that you speak to someone about these issues as soon as possible to determine your rights and remedies.

RAISED MEDIANS- FRIEND OR FOE?

Q. I was just wondering if anyone has commented on, what I feel, is a new (or old) motorcycle hazard, "raised medians". It is as though some college is turning out road engineers or villages, towns and counties are getting into a raised median fad. Sadly, in our area the other night a great person, Richard Johnson, was killed after running into a raised median, and last year we lost another motorcyclist who ran into a raised median. When I look at these medians that seem to be installed in all kinds of weird places, some with no lighting at all, I can see marks where cars have had their undercarriages scrape over them as well as many tire marks and breakage caused by snow plows in the winter. Is this really for traffic safety or some fad gone wild. I know of no one who can tell me they were protected from an accident by a raised median, but I can tell you I have heard many stories of folks damaging their vehicles hitting the medians and more articles about motorcyclists being killed by them. Is it just me or is this a problem? If we can't stop them from being built all over the place maybe they need to be very well lit. Maybe low level lights on the medians themselves so folks won't hit them. Only my opinion- ABATE Member Jerry Taylor.
A. Jerry, we are looking into the matter and will ask Jay Jackson, Executive Director of ABATE of Indiana to wade in on the issues that you raise as well. Stay tuned.

SHELTER INSURANCE COMPANY- SAY IT AIN’T SO

Say that your 19 year old son gets home from basic training for a break before he heads off to further duty with the Army. He asks to borrow the family FLH that he learned to ride. While riding, a near do well drunk with no insurance hits your boy and he loses a leg. You have Shelter Insurance on the bike with high uninsured motorist coverage in case the drunk from hell runs over you or the person to whom you have loaned your bike. You call your Shelter Agent and make a claim for your son. The Army will pay his medical bills, but you are counting on Shelter to pay for the tremendous pain, suffering and disability of your son. The Agent tells you that your high limits are dropped to the lowest limits for your son because only the named insured gets the high limits. You ask how can this be? You are directed to the fine print in your policy allowing Shelter to lower the limits to the state minimum for anyone riding your bike but you. This is called a drop down provision. This is a bad provision that some companies bury in the fine print. Companies that do that should be shunned. I believe that they are counting on the fact that you will not notice - until it is too late.

Recall that we reported a similar problem regarding Farm Bureau Insurance Company last year. That company stood tall and changed that policy language to allow coverage for the higher limits for those that borrow your bike. If you have Shelter Insurance, call your agent immediately. Inquire as to whether you have that drop down provision in your policy. If you do demand that it be removed. If they refuse, call Farm Bureau Insurance. They are doing the right thing.

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. And, 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


If you have any questions you would like to ask the lawyer, please submit them to ASK OUR LAWYER, at rodtaylor@abatelegal.com. © 2012, ABATE Legal Services.

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