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Ask Our Lawyer - July 2012

DOC JONES LEADS THE INDIANAPOLIS 500!

Of course, he did this in a sidecar of an ‘84 shovel at the Miracle Ride. They were all there for Doc- his family, friends, and fellow members of the motorcycling community. I can’t tell you how important it was for Doc to make this ride. He did it for his kids and the kids at Riley Hospital. Many of us know how difficult this ride was for Doc as he has ALS, is on a breathing machine and is unable to walk. Marc Falsetti, the sage of Hoosier Motorcyclist, was there to memorialize the trip. With the help of Patsy Jones, his wonderful girls, Jay Jackson, Ed Schetter, and George Tinkham, Doc was strapped into the sidecar with Hooker Harnesses like a jet fighter pilot ace. As a steely, good hearted VietNam era Navy veteran, there was no way Doc wasn’t going to make this ride work. And work it did. But when you have ALS, a lot of your pride is left at the back of the bike.

Here is the deal we had with Doc. If the ride was too much, he could bail at any time. He had not been on a bike since October and was failing. His wife Patsy would ride behind me and monitor his oxygen machine, manage his mask and help with his head position. I was nervous, actually more than nervous. I knew what his doctors would say about me doing this. I tried not to care about what they or anyone else thought. Doc wanted to do this one way or the other, and we were going to do whatever we had to do to get this done. I couldn’t wait to do this ride, but I couldn’t wait for it to be safely over. Being happy and miserable all at the same time is intense.

We offered to allow him to bail after we passed the kids at Riley. We got the slight fist-sign to keep on going. When passing the kids at Riley, some of the kids were outside the hospital and a few were on IVs and oxygen. I looked over at Doc and could sense what he was thinking. No one in our group knew more about what was going on with those kids at Riley than he did. And the kids focused on Doc like drones. It was a time that stopped for me; everything was in slow motion and the noise of the crowd was muted and dream-like. Oddly, it seemed like none of the rest of us were there and it was just Doc and the kids, and that was okay. Actually it was more than okay. Those kids saw another human being in trouble - just like them. And they waved and waved and waved, or at least those that could. Doc could not waive, but he looked and looked and looked, and smiled, mostly at those who could not waive. It was emotional for those of us who were lucky enough to notice. Even with his condition, for that one special moment, I envied Doc. They say that when we pass into the hereinafter we all will have a list of special times that flash before our eyes. I am sure that moment will be one of ours.

I knew he was exhausted, but per our deal he motioned and smiled to keep on going, and we did all the way to the Indianapolis 500 track. As we entered on the backstretch of the track, the Governor’s entourage moved to the side so Doc could lead the first lap of 8000 bikers around the track for Riley. It was like the Red Sea story as they parted for Doc. And lead he did. We cranked that sidecar car thru the back stretch; blasted by the third turn and were pressuring that sidecar as hard as we could to hit the historic fourth turn and as fast as the cops would allow. But, Doc was up for faster. Heading to the start finish line, I saw Doc do a weak fist pump and that slight veterinarian “you are ok smile” that I am sure he has given to a lot of his patients. Whatever mother nature has dealt him, for this time and moment, Doc was winning. Patsy was monitoring his oxygen machine and fussing with his head position. But Doc did not care. He was riding and riding for the kids at Riley.

After leaving the track, Doc had the chance to go back to the comfort of his wheelchair. So off to Lucas Raceway Park where we (actually, Gino Johnson CPA, world’s best accountant, guru for the Miracle Ride and former I.R.S. Agent, so be nice to him- he knows people) will count the money. Like Wild Bill Hickok, there was no smile better than Doc’s Jones’ $350K smile as I like to call it. That is right, $350K was raised for Riley because of volunteers like Doc. He was brought to the stage and wonderfully acknowledged by Mike Farabaugh where Doc expressed his philosophy of life. “Make love more; ride your motorcycle more and protect your right to ride.” Doc has it all figured out. No wonder that I and everyone that knows him loves him. I am looking forward to next year’s ride with him; same wheel - same deal.

TOWNS PASSING HELMET LAWS IN STATES THAT ARE HELMET FREE

IS THE TAIL WAGGING THE DOG?

Q. A member of ABATE was riding through Portage and was stopped by a cop for not having a helmet. When the biker produced his motorcycle endorsement, the police officer advised that the endorsement was invalid in Portage because the city had an ordinance requiring a helmet. How can this be when Indiana is a helmet free state? ABATE of Indiana member.

A. The officer is wrong. It only makes sense that we have uniform laws throughout the states. To hold otherwise would be to require bikers in helmet free states to map a path of travel in order to avoid helmet requiring towns. Those cities and towns are not being practical, or good citizens. They may mean well, but they are off the rail. Recall that Myrtle Beach in South Carolina tried to pull that one a few years back. The Supreme Court of that state slapped Myrtle Beach and held the ordinance unconstitutional. Likewise in Cleveland, where the city passed a stronger law on gun possession than the state required. The Ohio Supreme Court ruled “no way” on the more restrictive ordinance, and held Cleveland’s ordinance unconstitutional by saying that in areas where the state has laws, cities and towns need to back off where the state has already decided to regulate. One way to cure aggressive tactics of wayward cities and towns that violate our rights by stopping us based on bogus laws, is to require those towns to pay damages to the biker for the unconstitutional stop. If they can fine us, we should be able to fine them.

PROGRESSIVE INSURANCE COMPANY DENIES PAYMENT TO BIKER FOR LOSS OF USE OF MOTORCYCLE

ARE THEY TAKING ADVANTAGE OF BIKERS?

Q. Rod: A fellow motorcyclist that was not paying attention crashed into the rear of my brand new 2012 Street Glide that still had the paper tags on it. I am sick about it as I only had it for two weeks. The guy that hit me admits it was his fault and Progressive, his insurance company, has accepted responsibility for the damage to my rear fender, but are not willing to pay for my loss of use of the bike. The dealership says that they can not get me a new fender for 6-8 weeks. It does not seem fair that Progressive can get off the hook by paying only for the fix of the fender. Don’t they owe me something for loss of use of my motorcycle? After all, it is riding season! That way I could rent another bike until my bike is repaired. Mark Wiseman, ABATE MEMBER.

A. Hold your ground; they owe you. Progressive Insurance Company touts itself as user-friendly for motorcyclists, so I am sure they are not trying to pull a fast one - at least you should give them the benefit of the doubt on that one for the time being until we give them a chance to overrule the adjuster handling your claim.

You have a duty to lessen your damages, but you also have a right to be put in the position you were in prior to the crash. Just because an insurance company says they don’t do something doesn’t make it so. Most states in the midwest, including Illinois, Indiana and Ohio allow loss of use damages which is payment for loss of use of your motorcycle. This loss is measured by the reasonable rental value of your motorcycle and will vary depending on the value of the vehicle/motorcycle involved.

In most states, it does not even matter if you rented a replacement vehicle, you still get the value of your loss of use. Indiana and Illinois courts have said that to decide otherwise would be to favor those who could afford to rent a replacement vehicle over those who could not. Those that can’t afford to rent a replacement vehicle still have a loss of use which can be measured by the loss of the reasonable rental value.

Despite the law, some insurance companies still try to take advantage of motorcyclists by saying you can still drive your car/truck so you don’t have a loss. This is false. Surely a company like Progressive, which seeks motorcyclists’ business would not take this approach. Share this article with the Progressive adjuster and I will send Progressive correspondence bringing this to their attention.

Send the adjuster the communication that you received from the Harley dealer that is doing the repair confirming the 6-8 weeks delay in getting the parts for repair. Then get a figure from Harley as the to reasonable rental value for a motorcycle comparable to yours. Armed with this information, you should “educate” the Progressive agent as to the facts and the law. If he balks have him call me. I promise you that they will pay for your loss of use. Ride safe, Rod


P.S. Better yet, send me the name and number of the adjuster, so I can have a chat with him about this.

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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