shifting gears

Dondi Vesprini dondi@buckfirelaw.com

Phone: 248 569-4646

It was great to see everyone at the ABATE Seminar this past January.  Kudos to those who were able to withstand the extreme cold and overcome the incredibly slow and dangerous road conditions that came alone with the frigid temperatures.  Those that were able to attend were treated to many great breakout sessions presented by some very knowledgeable people not to mention the opportunity to mingle with other members you don’t see all the time.  If you have never been to an ABATE Seminar, I highly recommend it. 

I had the privilege at presenting at the Seminar and chose a topic that I thought dovetailed nicely with ABATE’s new vision statement.  For those who may not be aware, ABATE’s vision statement is as follows:

Vision: ABATE of Michigan Inc. will work diligently to increase the penalties to anyone who injures or causes a fatality to a motorcyclist or their passenger and will work with other organizations in order to preserve the universal right to a safe, unrestricted motorcycling environment on a state and national level.  ABATE is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the overall rights and promoting the safe operating practices of all Michigan motorcyclists. ​

The first part of the vision statement addresses ABATE’s effort to work to increase penalties to anyone who injures or kills a motorcyclist or his/her passenger.  Usually, when one thinks of increasing penalties, it is thought of in the civil infraction or criminal sense.  For instance, working to pass new laws or amend our current laws to increase fines, costs and or jail time for persons who injure or kill a motorcyclist.  Another effort along these lines could be to contact your prosecutor’s office if you hear of a motorcyclist being injured or killed in your area in a situation where the motorist was let off without penalty to seek some explanation.

In my line of work as a trial attorney who has represented many motorcyclists who have been injured or killed in an accident, I read ABATE’s new vision statement in a way that stretches the mission beyond increasing penalties in a civil infraction or criminal sense.  As a trial attorney representing injured motorcyclists and their families, I pursue compensation from the at fault motorist in the civil arena.  As a civil trial attorney, while the findings of law enforcement with respect to a motorcycle accident may be relevant, I am not bound by their ultimate findings of fault nor by whether or not they issued a ticket or not.  In the civil context, I am free to undertake my own investigation and analysis of the accident, and if the evidence appears that the motorist was at fault, I am free to pursue the case to hold the motorist financially accountable, even if law enforcement did not find the motorist at fault or the prosecutor’s office chose not to prosecute the motorist.

At the ABATE Seminar, I gave a presentation on a motorcycle accident lawsuit that I handled which fit this exact scenario.  I represented the widow of a motorcyclist who was killed in an accident in Indiana when he and a friend were riding their motorcycles home from a trip to Kentucky.  After the motorcyclist had started passing a motor vehicle which had been travelling very slowing in front of him in his lane, the motor vehicle merged into his lane and ran him off the road surface into a steel guardrail.  The local county sheriff’s department investigated the accident at the scene, took multiple photos and came to the conclusion that the accident was the motorcyclist’s own fault. This despite the fact that the other motorcyclist he was riding with observed everything that happened and shared his story with the officer.  The motorist was not charged with any violation of any kind nor even given a traffic ticket. 

Despite the findings of law enforcement, I was able to perform my own investigation of the accident and in so doing discovered three additional witnesses to the accident whose testimony in conjunction with the physical evidence at the scene proved there was more to the story than that indicated in the police investigation.  I filed a lawsuit on the widow’s behalf and through multiple discovery requests; depositions of the witnesses, the involved motorist and her passenger and the investigating law enforcement officers; scene investigation; and collection of physical evidence, I was able to prove the fault of the involved motorist and hold her financially accountable to the widow for her actions in killing the motorcyclist, despite the findings of law enforcement.

I presented this case not only because it was an example of a case that was consistent with ABATE’s new vision statement, but also because it provided examples of what injured motorcyclists and/or others riding with the injured/killed motorcyclist can do at the scene of an accident and in the aftermath to preserve the “truth” of what happened.  This way the motorcyclist or his/her family is in the best position to hold the at fault driver accountable in the civil arena, even if law enforcement or the prosecutor did not do.

It would be my pleasure to come out to your Region to share the presentation with you and your membership.  If anyone is interested please don’t hesitate to contact me. 

As always, if anyone has any questions or if I can be of legal assistance to you or anyone you know dealing with this issue or who has been injured in a motorcycle accident, please don’t hesitate to contact me as I deal with these types of claims on a daily basis on behalf of injured motorcyclists statewide.

Further, if you would like to have me come out to your Region to speak or give a presentation on the legal rights of an injured motorcyclist or on any specific topic that your region may be curious about, please don’t hesitate to give me a call at (248-569-4646) or shoot me an e-mail at Dondi@buckfirelaw.com.  I give presentations to Regions state-wide and there is never a charge associated with having me out.  I enjoy having the opportunity to come out and meet motorcycle enthusiasts from all parts of our State!              


Fighting for the rights of all motorcyclists since 1976

ABATE of Michigan Inc.
P.O. Box 99
​Constantine, Mi. 49042

​Phone: 269 435-2058