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Ask Our Lawyer – December 2021

On Behalf of | Dec 13, 2021 | Firm News


One of the blessings of membership in ABATE is the power to call up your lawyer and pick his brain on a variety of legal issues.  And it helps when you tell a stubborn insurance adjuster that if they don’t treat you right on the property damage to the family Harley – you are going to call Rod Taylor – your ABATE lawyer.  Sometimes, that is all it takes.

Not only does ABATE Legal receive calls regarding motorcycle crashes we get calls for legal help on a variety of issues, for example, time-share issues in Mexico,  motorcycle titles,  credit score gigs, employment problems, age discrimination, sexual harassment, union contracts, health policy claims and  insurance claim denials to name a few.  You name it and we have tried to help our members get started in the right direction.  While we are motorcycle lawyers specializing in crash cases  (WE HANDLE ALL KINDS OF PERSONAL INJURY CASES FOR OUR MEMBERS), and we try to get you to lawyers that practise in other areas that we don’t.  For example, we are not patent/trademark lawyers, but we know when it pays to hire one and when it doesn’t.  We like to think we have saved a lot of money for our members.


Q.   I was involved in an accident on my bike. I wasn’t hurt too badly, and my medical insurance will cover all the bills. However, the lady who hit me didn’t have any insurance, and I wasn’t carrying any coverage other than liability coverage. Can you help me sue her so that I can get my bike fixed?

A.   It will be tough to get any sort of recovery. Especially if she has no job and no assets. Most folks that have a job and money in the bank have insurance. What we have here is a classic case of insufficient coverage. You were carrying the legal minimum coverage, and so were in compliance with the law. Unfortunately, that coverage only protects the lady, not you. Where you made a mistake was in declining the uninsured motorist/underinsured motorist coverages (UM/UIM coverage.) Why? Probably to save a few bucks, and you figured that since the law required everyone to have coverage, you didn’t need to pay for additional coverage in case she did not have insurance.

As you learned, not everybody complies with the financial responsibility laws. Some people simply never get insurance and give a bogus policy number when they register their cars. Others may have coverage, but they cancel it after getting the car registered. Some just take a chance. In any case, you were left holding the bag. 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 – it is the cheapest coverage you will ever buy.  Fortunately your injuries were slight and the damage to your bike is light.  We will help you sue her in small claims court, but don’t hold your breath that you will get any recovery.  Poor people have poor ways.


Q.   I like to tinker with my bike, and over the years, I have come up with a number of improvements for motorcycles. I’d like to market some of them, but I want to make sure no one steals my ideas. What do I need to do to protect my interests? Can I get a patent?

A.   Patent law is a special branch of law, and it has rules designed to maintain the power of patent protection. The award of a patent means that no one else can sell your product without your permission. There are two types of patents, utility patents and design patents. Design patents cover only how a product looks. Utility patents are much stronger and cover how the product is used.

The first step to getting a patent is to do a patent search to make sure that your invention hasn’t been invented by someone else. The United States Patent and Trademark Office has an on-line search process which will help you out doing your search.

Be very careful about who you tell about your invention and how you do it. Always have anyone you discuss the marketing of your invention with sign a non-disclosure agreement. If you do not, and discuss your invention with someone other than an attorney or patent agent, you have limits on how long you have to file for your patent, and you could lose your patent rights forever.  If you need a referral to a patent lawyer, call me.


Ok, but I don’t care.  I have always liked a sidehack for what many will say – is for no good reason. A friend of mine once said that a “side car has all the disadvantages of a motorcycle with absolutely none of the advantages.”  Ok, so he is logical and I am not – still don’t care.  That expression guided me for over three decades.  I have now struck a blow for liberty and have been riding a sidehack for several years. So you can call me “Sidecar Rod.”

What got me started was running into Bob Heady at the license branch plating his sidecar rig. Bob is one of those guys you can’t get enough of. A former Marion County Deputy Sheriff, he went on to become a Federal Bomb Demolition Expert. And just in time to go to Oklahoma City to investigate the bombing and get his fill of Timothy McVeigh. You talk about a fascinating human being – Bob Heady is it. And no one knows more about the pitfalls of a sidehack and its beauty.

After only about 15 minutes of sitting next to him waiting on license plates, I knew that my ‘84 FLH was going to have a rebirth of freedom by growing one more wheel. So off I went to LA Cycle in Whitestown. The owner is Larry Averitt and he just happens to be the sidecar master. Years ago, Larry said he was coming to the Miracle Ride with his triplets. I wondered how he was going to pull that one off until I saw him roll in with a sidehack equipped FLH. There, bunched up in the sidecar were Larry’s triplets. Now that was a photo-op and a justifiably proud father if there ever was one. I don’t have triplets, but I do have a pair of shelter dogs and am hoping they will become side-car queens.

P.S. My friends promised me a 50 # sack of lead shot. “Somethin bout” right hand turns.


Rule #1.  Always remember – the dynamics of a sidecar are totally different than a motorcycle’s.

Rule #2.  When you brake, you turn away from the sidecar.

Rule #3.  With acceleration, the drag of the sidecar makes you turn into it.

Rule #4.  Turn into the sidecar, and it tries to lift. Turn hard enough, especially with an empty sidecar, and it will flip over. The good news is that you can turn away from the sidecar as hard as you want so

half the time you are Evel Knievel.  So left turns are really fun as long as you hold on.  Very embarrassing to watch your sidehack traveling down the road without you.

Rule #5.  Turning requires more steering force than a two-wheeler.  So when you have to swerve in an emergency, a sidecar becomes a handful.  Panic braking requires you to muscle the steering to stay straight. Since you are not as skinny as a motorcycle, a sidecar’s width limits escape options.

P.S.  Wimp sidehack drivers have a 50# sack of lead in the nose of the sidecar.  I know why.