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Ask Our Lawyer - November 2011

How To Play Russian Roulette Or Make A Quarter Million Dollars

Just Read And Do This:

Do you like to play Russian Roulette? How about for $100 bucks a year? Doesn’t seem worth it, does it? But that’s what you’re doing if you don’t buy uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage for your motorcycle, car, or truck insurance policy.

Studies indicate that more than 14 out of a 100 drivers do not carry any sort of coverage. And those that do have minimal limits that effectively provide no coverage (It is a joke for the adverse driver to say he has $25k of insurance coverage when your losses are approaching $500k. Let’s say you’re going for a summer ride. Remember the blue-hair you saw driving that 1979 Buick Electra? She hasn’t had insurance since 1980, and she’s going to run into you. What can you do to get the bike fixed, not to mention paying your medical bills? How about mortgage or rent payments and your living expenses? If you do not have UM/UIM coverage, you are screwed.

Your parachute is uninsured/underinsured motorist coverages. Most people who don’t have insurance don’t because they think they can’t afford it or don’t want to pay for it. In other words, they do not have any money. The odds of them having sufficient resources to pay off a personal injury claim are slim and none. Without coverage of your own, there’s no compensation. You might be able to get a 1979 Buick Electra, but that doesn’t pay the bills.

If you don’t have uninsured motorist/underinsured motorist coverages (UM/UIM coverage), you are underinsured. If you carry the legal minimum coverage, you are in compliance with the law, but still woefully underinsured. Unfortunately, “state minimum” coverage only protects the other guy, not you. And when was the last time you heard of a motorcyclist that caused personal injury to the driver of a Mack truck or a minivan for that matter? Where you made the mistake was in declining the uninsured motorist/underinsured motorist coverages (UM/UIM coverage.) And you have to affirmatively do that. The law puts it on your shoulders to say no. Why would you do that? Well, my guess is that you wanted to save a few bucks, and figured that since the law required everyone to have coverage, you didn’t need to pay for additional coverages. Bad decision based on bad facts.

Unfortunately, not everybody complies with the financial responsibility laws. Some people simply never get insurance and give a bogus policy number when the register their cars. Others may have coverage, but they cancel it after getting the car registered. Our laws our weak in that it allows scofflaws to pull a fast one. That means you are left holding the bag when you get injured in an accident with a near-do-well.

You ask, but how would that get the bike fixed? Simple. Remember that even if you have medical insurance that will cover your medical bills, you would still be entitled to compensation for your lost wages, impairment and pain and suffering. That’s YOUR money, to spend or pay bills as you please. If you want to fix your bike, you can.

Don’t forget that when you get your insurance that you may be asked if you want to have your UM/UIM coverage at the same limits as your own personal injury coverage. For example, you can have liability coverage of $50,000/$100,000 (that $50,000 per person and $100,000 total per accident) and have UM/UIM coverage in the same amount, or elect to have only $25,000/$50,000 UM/UIM coverage. The cost difference is very small, and the added coverage you would have is immense. The best advise is to have the highest limits (both liability and UM/UIM) that you can afford. The reason for this two-fold. One, higher limits protect your assets (your house, car, boat, vacation cabin, bike, etc.) if you get sued after an accident. Two, higher UM/UIM protects you if you get injured in accident, even if the other guy carries minimum coverage. Let’s say you get injured in an accident that is the other guy’s fault. You have damages from the accident (medical bills, bike repairs, and pain and suffering) of $200,000.00. The other guys has basic coverage, $25,000/$50,000. His insurance coverage pays you the $25,000.00, leaving you with $175,000.00 of uncompensated damages. You can make a claim for the additional damages from your carrier under your UM/UIM coverage. However, you can only make a claim for coverage to the extent that your UM/UIM coverage exceeds the other guys basic coverage. For example, if you have $25,000/$50,000 UM/UIM coverage, then you can’t make a claim because your coverage doesn’t exceed his coverage. If you have $50,000/$100,000, you can claim $25,000 of coverage from your UM/UIM coverage. The higher your coverage is, the better your protection is.

There is no excuse for ANYONE to decline UM/UIM coverage. It can be your resource of last resort. Don’t be caught on the wrong side of being injured - protect yourself and your bike, and carry UM/UIM coverage. You can’t afford to play Russian Roulette – not for a hundred dollars.

Full Up On Crazy

Q: I’ve got a problem with some nutjob who keeps posting stuff about me on his website. I’ve done some investigation, and it does not appear that suing this guy would have any effect on him, since I don’t think he has any assets to pay a judgment. Is there anything else I can do?

- ABATE member

A: Sometimes, there’s not a whole lot you can do when someone wants to bring you a whole bunch of crazy. While saying, “No thanks, we’re full up on crazy here” and telling him to take his crazy elsewhere can be satisfying, it usually doesn’t work. Since this nutjob is on doing it on the internet, you may have an opportunity to do something. The first thing is to find out who is hosting the website the nutjob is using. T he best way to make a note of the address Mr. Nutjob is using and go to http :// www . networksolutions . com / whois / index . jsp . Enter the name of the website in the search box and it will return the information on the webhost. In the section on “Domain servers in listed order:” you will see the name of webhost. You can contact the webhost and review the Terms of Service (TOS) for the host. If Mr. Nutjob is in violation of the TOS, report the violation of the TOS to the host, and they will take appropriate action. Mr. Nutjob, if he wants to keep his site, will have to take his crazy somewhere else.

Roadhazard.Net Does It Over And Over

Indiana ABATE member Mike Moryl used Roadhazard.net to let us know about a problem in Porter County. The authorities had replaced a small culvert pipe under the roadway and covered the excavation with soft soil and gravel but didn’t pave the area. This hazard was close to a stop sign and T intersection. This hazard was very dangerous for motorcycles since there was very little room to go straight through the gravel and then turn sharply at the T intersection. After ABATE Legal notified the appropriate officials, Mike sent us a follow-up: “Thanks for your help with the intersection. The entire stretch of road from the 45 bypass to old 49 was paved recently. Thanks again, and keep up the good work with your Q&A in the ABATE magazine. I read them every month.” Thank you, Mike. Keep sending in the hazards, and we will keep working on getting them fixed!

Wolf Spiders, Biker Boots And Heart Attacks - Tis The Season

I have a pair of motorcycle boots that I have had since 1984. They are knee length and steel toed. It took me 10 years to get them trained. Putting them on is an ordeal; same for taking them off, but they are my favorites for the 500 mile ride. I never had a habit in putting them on until I had “the experience”.

Here is some advice that I would like to share with those that don’t care for really big snakes and really big spiders. Make no mistake - I do not scare easily. I am an old farm boy that used to stump for 30 pound catfish, dynamite carp, castrate old bulls with burdizo clamps (they don’t like it a bit) and do spins in an airplane. But I do have my limits and here is the story. One October morning in Indian summer, I decided to take a long ride along the Ohio River. Of course I begin my willy-nilly procedure of putting on the “boots” after retrieving them from the garage. If you have ever owned a pair of knee-high motorcycle boots, you know that you need to get a running start to just to get them on. It takes me forever to get them where I feel comfortable. On the morning in question I had wiggled, jerked, heaved, pulled and thought about greasing my way into this leather box canyon. Of course once you get there, it is a wonderful feeling. I had done my usual energy exchange getting the dang left boot on when I discovered that I had apparently left a sock in the toe on my boot. Nothing more disappointing in putting one of these boots on than having to take it off, remove the sock and start all over. After I got the boot off and felt down in the boot to retrieve the sock, I noticed that it did not feel like a sock, and I could not seem to pull it loose. Well there was only one thing to do -- put the boot upside down and shake the dickens out of it. I did. Nothing happened so I flashed a light down the boot opening and got “ eight eye shine in return.” I don’t care who you are - that is scary. I really started shaking it then and what eventually fell out the boot was heart-attack inducing. It was the biggest Wolf spider that I had ever seen. How big was it you ask? It was so big that I heard it run up the leg of a wicker desk. It sounded like it was running down a gravel road. I know that spiders do not have voices, but I swear to God that this guy was cussing me. I killed him with several, repeat, several pounds of my steel-toed boot. He did not go down easy and bled like a hog.

Moral of story: Beware this time of year. Wolf spiders are looking for places, like steel-toed boots with long canyons, to hang out in. If you ever seen me putting on my knee length steel toed motorcycle boots, here is what you will see: you will see me picking up the boot very carefully and shaking it in the air an annoying number of times all the while thumping the sides with my free hand. And I am not done. I slam the open end on the ground until my actions looks weird. Finally, I have been known to use a flashlight for a final check - looking for that eye shine of course. End of story.

- Rod

P.S. If the boot and sock still does not feel quite right, I have been known to start the process all over again. My wife says they make medication for what I have, but then again, she did not hear or see that spider run up the leg of the desk, and she did not see those eight eyes looking up at me. If she had, I’m sure you would have heard the scream in Sturgis.

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. © 2011, A.B.A.T.E. Legal Services