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Ask Our Lawyer - June 2009

Death at a funeral

Q. My friend was killed while escorting a funeral procession when a vehicle that was not part of the procession cut in between the vehicles of the procession. Unfortunately, while trying to drive through the procession, that vehicle cut into the path of my friend's escort vehicle. What is the law concerning funeral processions and rights of way?

A. Indiana, Illinois and Ohio all have strict regulations giving funeral processions the right‑of‑way. In fact, most states have laws granting a funeral procession the‑right‑of way. Most states prohibit any vehicle from driving between the vehicles of the funeral procession, except when a police officer authorizes same or the vehicle is an emergency vehicle with a siren. Typically, state law forbids persons who are not part of the funeral procession from joining in for the purpose of securing the right‑of‑way rights granted by statute. Other requirements include the obligation of participating vehicles in the procession to follow the preceding vehicle as closely as is practical and safe, as well as requiring that headlights and taillights be illuminated. Additionally, those vehicles may display flashing amber lights. The lead and last vehicle may display the vehicle's hazard warning lights while in the procession.

More Estates, more questions

Q: My birth mother and my step‑father passed away last year. My mother passed away several months ago and my stepfather passed away more recently. They were married many years, but I was never adopted by my stepfather. When my parents passed away, they had no will. I recently was going through some papers of theirs and came across a quitclaim deed my stepfather had completed in January of 2007 while my mother was still living. The quitclaim showed my stepfather was the Granter, granting the real estate property to my mother and himself as joint tenants. He signed it and had it notarized. My mother signed nothing. My question is this: what does this mean to me and how does this affect me?

A: The quitclaim deed probably had no effect on you, and that isn =t good news for you, depending on what sort of heirs your stepfather had. Under the laws of intestate succession (what happens when you don =t have a will) any property your mother owned at the time of her death passed to her husband at time of her death. Even if the quitclaim deed was effective, her interest passed back to him at the time of her death. All property he owned at the time of his death will pass under the intestate succession laws, which typically would be to his children. If he had none, then to his parents, his brothers and sisters, and then their kids. As a non-adopted child of a subsequent spouse, you probably do not fit into the line of succession. Even if your mom intended for you to get the property, without a will, there is no way to ensure her wishes are fulfilled.

RoadHazard.org - continuing to get the job done

The Indiana Department of Transportation recently responded to a RoadHazard notice we sent. InDOT said:

In response to your letter dated 4‑7‑09, concerning a hole on 465 near Rockville Road. This section of roadway is under contract and is going through complete rehab, during this process the contractor is responsible for the roadway being maintained and safe for the public. If we (INDOT) receives a complaint we will act on it as soon as possible. We then contact the contractor and advise them of our findings and repairs that we may have been made.

I am a rider and fully understand the dangers of holes in the roadway, I encourage your office to continue to contact us as you have done and want you to know it is appreciated. I will advise your office of my findings and actions taken. You can also call me if notified of emergency situations. Thank you for your time.

Keep those RoadHazard notices coming - they get attention and results!

How do they know? Cops and tickets

Q: I got a ticket for doing 100 in a 65. What is the punishment I =m looking at? Since the cop did not use radar to clock me, how can he prove that was my exact speed? He said he had to get up to 100 to catch me so he wrote me up for that speed. Does he have a good case against me? Could they have impounded my vehicle, especially if my passenger was licensed?

P.S. I have a witness that says differently.

A: Probably. After all, that =s the way they used to do it back in the old days. If a cop saw you zooming past, they would clock you by matching speeds. If the officer testifies that he clocked you at that speed, the judge would have to decide who he believed.

Also, if your witness testifies that you were doing less than 100, but more than 65, I don =t think that you will be getting off. Most jurisdictions have a category for general speeding, and one for excessive speed. Without knowing which jurisdiction you are in, I can =t say what the penalty is. Generally, however, 20 over the speed limit would fall into the excessive category. Penalties can range from a large number of points on your license to suspension, if there are enhanced penalties in your state. And of course, there will be fines and court costs.

We will address whether or not they can impound your bike in the next column.

Ride Safe and Free,
Rod Taylor
ABATE Legal Services

Remember, injured ABATE members pay only 28 2% of total recovery and expenses as approved by client, consistent with and conforming to applicable state law. Elsewhere, you may pay 33 a%, 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.

If you have any questions you would like to ask the lawyer, please submit them to ASK OUR LAWYER, at rodtaylor@abatelegal.com. 8 2009, A.B.A.T.E. Legal Services