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Ask Our Lawyer - May 2007


Q:My husband and I have wonderful grandchildren, which we are raising because our daughter is not blessed with good mothering skills at this stage in her life. Now that my husband has cancer, we are concerned for our grandchildren's future. What can we do?

A:I have received this question many times from concerned parents. Usually, a life threatening disease causes them to question "what will happen to our grand kids if we are not around to raise them?" Many grandparents have only Social Security for themselves and certainly have not been in a position to save significant assets for the benefit of their grandchildren. As we all know, Social Security goes to the benefit of the worker, the worker's spouse, and their unemancipated children.

The big question becomes what do you do to help safeguard the future lives of grandchildren when the only asset of the grandparents is typically their home, meager savings, and the Social Security benefits they are receiving. It was then that it came to me when I thought of that old country song "I'm My Own Grandpa." What if the grandparents adopted their own grandkids? Would those grandchildren get Social Security benefits if something happened to the grandparents? The answer to that question is yes, if the grandparents legally adopt their own grandchildren. We have made that recommendation and have taken that avenue in our practice. That system will work; and, in this instance will insure that the grandchildren will have a good and decent life through their college years. Accordingly, the rule is if you know of grandparents who are in harms way because of their health, and who are the primary care givers to their grandchildren, you should advise them to consider adopting their own grandchildren so that they will have the protection of Social Security benefits. Of course, this would take the cooperation of the natural parents and consent would have to be provided by those parents.


Crystal Shamhart, A.B.A.T.E. of Illinois State Activities Coordinator from Effingham, writes with some warnings for bikers about road resurfacing projects. She reports that Rt 32/33 has been dangerously uneven for at least 3 months. The state is widening the area into Effingham. They widened one side and were supposed to be widening the other side in order to make it a four lane highway with a middle turning lane. Winter weather brought work to a stop, but they didn't do a very good job trying to make the road safe and level. There is no warning of the uneven condition. With the warmer weather, more of these projects are going to popping up on the highways and byways, and we need to be vigilant. We are working on some changes to the RoadHazard site that will help identify these types of long-term construction hazards. Look for an announcement in the near future!


A lot of the time, it seems that we advocates for motorcycling are crying in the wind, or preaching to the choir. So when I find positive information about motorcycling out there, I like to point it out as evidence that people outside the motorcycling family are taking notice, as well.

Cheryl Snowden in Ohio recently sent a copy of a publication prepared by the Ohio Farm Bureau magazine article about motorcycle awareness. The article was written by input from the AMA and MSF, which is always nice to see. The article, found at http://ourohio.org/mag/html/mag_2007/mag_mam_07_iyi.php, noted that motorcycling as a recreational activity is growing for both women and men. Unfortunately, some riders are going out untrained, and many motorists don't respect the rights of motorcyclists on the roadways. Insurance data shows that three-fourths of motorcycle accidents involve another vehicle, and in two-thirds of those, the other vehicle violated the motorcyclist's right of way. And our A.B.A.T.E. safety training teaches that intersections are the most likely place for motorcycle crashes to occur. They reported that a quarter of motorcycle crashes occur when another vehicle turns left across the motorcycle's path. The Ohio Farm Bureau magazine also provided some great information for motorists on how to watch out for motorcycles on the roadways.


Most of the case we review on behalf of motorcyclists involve motor vehicle accident reports. Most reports I have seen require that the officer note whether the rider was wearing a helmet. In Indiana and Illinois, helmets are listed in the section on safety equipment. In Ohio, there is separate section for reporting motorcycle helmet usage. None of these states require helmet usage for adult, experienced riders.

I believe that to be an improper coding and prejudicial to motorcyclists. They do not ask in the person driving the car was wearing a helmet - and they do not ask if bicyclists are wearing a helmet. Since it is LEGAL in those states to ride without a helmet, this information is inappropriate. We need to get this changed - it is unfairly prejudicial.


It's once again time for the Miracle Ride, benefiting Riley Hospital for Children. It is you, the riders, who have raised almost $2,000,000 in the last 13 years, making this among the largest charitable events around. Your generous contributions and pledges support life-saving treatment at this premier children's hospital. Having spent time with the kids at Riley, we know first hand how much they appreciate all you do. Come join Bob and Tom from the Bob and Tom Show, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, members of the world champion Indianapolis Colts, and thousands of fellow riders for this exciting weekend! Bike shows, concerts, great food and good fellowship, and the opportunity to raise some money for a great cause. And did I mention that you get to ride around the fabled Indianapolis Motor Speedway? Don't miss this weekend! Come early for the pancake breakfast!! Check out www.miracleride.net for all the details.


Freedom Fighters Hall of Fame, Sturgis, S. Dakota
To whom it may concern:

I will like to support the nomination of Gary Sellers for the Freedom Fighters Hall of Fame Award. Gary was a motorcyclists advocate long before he served in Vietnam. After service, Gary returned to Ohio and continued to do what he does best: serve his country, community and motorcyclists with his time. Speaking of time, Gary was way ahead of the times in supporting motorcyclists rights. Whether at work or in the community generally, Gary did what it took to see problems and issues and solve those matters effectively.

Gary saw that the best way to win the rights for motorcyclists, and influence the "others" was to organize, and that he did. He spent the three decades leading A.B.A.T.E. of OHIO and held just about every position available. He was the "wing man" for John "Farmer" Eggers for whom the highest award of the MRF is named. Gary did not stop at the state level. He served as a mover and shaker for the MRF during the 'tough" years. He made the beachhead for Motorcyclists' D-Day in Washington - he was there.

Gary was on a first name basis with just about every legislator in Ohio. He was a steward when the Ohio helmet law was repealed, and a founding father for state funding of rider education in Ohio. Before Gary, if your son or daughter wanted to learn how to ride, the State of Ohio would give them a pink slip that in essence allowed them to train [practice] on the highways of the state. If they survived that experience, the state would give a summary skills test. I estimate that rider education in Ohio has saved over 2,100 lives since implemented. If I could, I would nominate Gary for a Noble Prize for that achievement alone. He deserves it ten times over.

I know you have received numerous letters in support of Gary outlining his wonderful achievements and the countless positions he has held. I will not duplicate that here. I will say that if there is a Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Ben Franklin, and John Adams equivalent in the Motorcycle movement, Gary is all of those wrapped into one. Gary Sellers is the most unsung hero in motorcycling. Shame on us for not recognizing this sooner.

The problem with Gary is that he is the most humble, unassuming individual I have ever met. That is the only reason that I can figure that he has not received your award decades ago. I will predict that he will complain that thousands of us wrongfully feel this way about him; that others deserve it more. That is his wonderful nature. Just ignore him, because on that, he is dead wrong!

Rod Taylor, Charter Member of MRF, Member of A.B.A.T.E. OF OHIO, INDIANA AND ILLINOIS

A.B.A.T.E. Legal Services

Remember, injured A.B.A.T.E. 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 ?%, 40% or even 50% of your recovery. And, A.B.A.T.E. members are not charged for recovery of damage to your motorcycle, and have access to a 24-hour toll-free telephone number.

If you have any questions you would like to ask the lawyer, please submit them to: Ask Our Lawyer, P.O. Box 2850, Indianapolis, Indiana 46206_2850, or email rodtaylor@abatelegal.com. © 2005, A.B.A.T.E. Legal Services