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Old 01-03-2013, 10:34 AM   #1
Gixxer0613
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Liable for crash after unauthorized use?

This question is for anyone familiar with PA and/or NY motorcycle liability. I'd consult a lawyer, but I can just about guarantee I'd just be told I need to fork over money to retain "just in case".
To make a long story only somewhat long, I sold my gsxr to a friend. He was unable to secure a loan, so since I trusted him at the time, I held the title and drafted a payment contract. He was also to get motorcycle insurance in his name, and I dropped mine. Needless to say, things went sour.
I find out through a contact this past summer that my bike was crashed yet I wasn't informed. From what I could find out, he let one of his friends ride it, who claims that a truck cut him off on the highway and forced him to lay it down. He apparently managed to limp the bike back to a relative's house without immediately seeking help or calling the police. Moderate (but inexpensive) damage to the bike, moderate (but expensive) injuries to the rider. I found out within a day, tried to get info from my friend and the rider but neither would tell me anything, just said they'd take care of it. I called the police in the area who said no crash was reported. My friend (who apparently had let the insurance lapse prior to the crash) got the bike fixed, and the rider underwent several surgeries for road rash. He had no health insurance and ended up losing his job since he was off for so long.

Now 8 months later, I'm being told by several sources that the rider is planning to sue me for the crash by claiming that I was responsible for the bike and insurance coverage because I'm the legal owner. I live in PA, where the bike is registered, and my understanding is that motorcycle insurance doesn't cover medical bills anyway, and even then, vehicle insurance follows the operator not the owner. He is a NY resident, and the crash happened in NY, so I'm not sure if the laws are any different.
Can I be held liable for the crash? I have several texts from my friend apologizing for letting the insurance lapse and admitting he knew nobody else was supposed to be on it, but the rider can always say he never knew. There's no police report, and no real indication that the crash even happened where and when they claim or under the conditions they say.
I don't want to hear about how dumb I am for trusting someone with my motorcycle. Believe me, I know. Just wondering if anyone familiar with the laws can tell me if I can actually be sued because someone took my bike without my permission.
Thanks
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Old 01-03-2013, 10:42 AM   #2
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Re: Liable for crash after unauthorized use?

I believe they can sue you because you are titled to the bike. I once had someone threaten to sue me over a vehicle I sold to someone, they went and race it before titling it, and ended up killing someone in a street race or something.

For some reason, my mother was also titled on it so they threaten to go after her too. Having the bill of sale and a copy of the signed over title made them dismiss it against me but people are shady man.

I'd say get one of those free consult lawyers or try talking to the rider.
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Old 01-03-2013, 10:49 AM   #3
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Re: Liable for crash after unauthorized use?

Does your payment contract have signatures and dates?
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Old 01-03-2013, 10:50 AM   #4
mig1289
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^ those are key.

What part of Pennsylvania are you from? I know there are a few lawyers on this forum... How else would we get breaks on the occasional citation. Good luck

Look up nesba
www.tracktalk.nesba.com/
And the WERA forums.

I consulted a lawyer who used to race motorcycle s and he cut me a lower rate, compared to others.

Sent from my thumbs.

Last edited by mig1289; 01-03-2013 at 11:17 AM.
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Old 01-03-2013, 12:21 PM   #5
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Re: Liable for crash after unauthorized use?

Tell them he bought the bike from you and you gave him the title and he never transferred it to his name and rode it without insurance. Not your problem.
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Old 01-03-2013, 01:29 PM   #6
Ironhead401
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Re: Liable for crash after unauthorized use?

With no police report there is no investigation, no proof of anything and his word against yours. I would say you're fine. However, how was your friend able to get the bike insured if he didn't actually own the bike and if you had the title.

And I know you already no this but wtf were you thinking letting someone ride your bike when it's in your name? Regardless if he's paying you.
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Old 01-03-2013, 01:39 PM   #7
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Re: Liable for crash after unauthorized use?

I never needed anything but the VIN # on my bike to insurance it
and on top of that in Florida (not sure where else has similar law) you do not need insurance on a motorcycle. So uninsured motorist would kick in from who ever hits you.
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Old 01-03-2013, 01:56 PM   #8
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Re: Liable for crash after unauthorized use?

Quote:
Originally Posted by TVanVliet View Post
I never needed anything but the VIN # on my bike to insurance it
and on top of that in Florida (not sure where else has similar law) you do not need insurance on a motorcycle. So uninsured motorist would kick in from who ever hits you.
That is the one good thing about this god for saken retirement state.
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Old 01-03-2013, 04:14 PM   #9
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Re: Liable for crash after unauthorized use?

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Originally Posted by MidnightRunner View Post
That is the one good thing about this god for saken retirement state.
Well... Fishing is superb over here as well.
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Old 01-03-2013, 04:21 PM   #10
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Re: Liable for crash after unauthorized use?

Report the bike was stolen . just kidding . I got nothing .
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Old 01-03-2013, 04:49 PM   #11
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Re: Liable for crash after unauthorized use?

Usually the law is enforced where the incident occurred.
But no police report means no evidence to me.

I would research the law some more, for example in Michigan any accident over 1000$ has to have a police report.
But if he is getting a lawyer i'd have one on standby that knows the situation
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Old 01-05-2013, 10:40 AM   #12
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Re: Liable for crash after unauthorized use?

He would have been able to get insurance for it easily. people buy car and bikes on credit all the time and don't have the titles. Ya it wasn't a very good idea but as it was said earlier it was never reported so there is no investigation. it would be his word against yours. I would say that you need to talk to the guy that bought it from you. if you have a contract stating that he bought it from you and was paying from you it would be his responsibility to insure it not you. good luck man.
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Old 01-05-2013, 10:52 AM   #13
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You said you held the title... This is a tricky one actually. I agree with above, free consultation lawyer. But when I got hit by a car in NJ my motorcycle insurance wouldn't cover my hospital bills... some b.s. or something about motorcycles being too high of a liability . No care since I have good health insurance. But, I'm sure the law is similar in N.Y. I would say you're in the clear though as long as all the documents were signed. And without a police report, it's gonna boil down to your word vs. his. I'll assume you're in possession of all the documents? Just PLEASE tell me everything was signed....
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Old 01-05-2013, 11:49 AM   #14
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Re: Liable for crash after unauthorized use?

I'll bet that's the last time you do that! Yikes!
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Old 01-05-2013, 12:42 PM   #15
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Re: Liable for crash after unauthorized use?

Its the person opperating the motorcycle/car responceability to know if its legal to opperate on public streets.

As others have mentioned there is no accident report. Not to mention him leaving the seen of an accident.

I think even if he did sue you,you would win in the long run. Then make him pay for any legal fees and lost wages you occur.
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Old 01-05-2013, 01:40 PM   #16
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Re: Liable for crash after unauthorized use?

Quote:
Originally Posted by thehubster View Post
He would have been able to get insurance for it easily. people buy car and bikes on credit all the time and don't have the titles. Ya it wasn't a very good idea but as it was said earlier it was never reported so there is no investigation. it would be his word against yours. I would say that you need to talk to the guy that bought it from you. if you have a contract stating that he bought it from you and was paying from you it would be his responsibility to insure it not you. good luck man.
The Lien provider holds on to the title because technically it's their bike till you pay it off. So saying people buy cars and bikes all the time on credit and don't have titles, isn't true. There is a title, you just don't get to hold it.

In the case of this thread, the OP isn't a bank and is just doing a friend a favor but decided to hold the title himself. The reason to my original question on how he can get insurance is that my insurance company in NJ asked for proof of ownership and the NJ DMV required proof of ownership (a title) to be able to register it. Can only speak for NJ though.
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Old 01-05-2013, 02:12 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ironhead401 View Post
The Lien provider holds on to the title because technically it's their bike till you pay it off. So saying people buy cars and bikes all the time on credit and don't have titles, isn't true. There is a title, you just don't get to hold it.

In the case of this thread, the OP isn't a bank and is just doing a friend a favor but decided to hold the title himself. The reason to my original question on how he can get insurance is that my insurance company in NJ asked for proof of ownership and the NJ DMV required proof of ownership (a title) to be able to register it. Can only speak for NJ though.

I had Progressive in NJ and didn't have to show proof of ownership to get coverage. You do need proof of ownership/insurance to register it though. But if OP held the title there was technically no transfer of ownership, right? As long as you have the VIN # you could pay to insure any bike you wanted to... even if you don't own it. If you got pulled over the registration and insurance obviously wouldn't match up though. It all depends if OP signed the title over to his friend but decided to hold it (for whatever reason). If he signed the title over and the bike was re-registered in his friends name, OP is in the clear. I doubt a friend drafting a payment plan counts as a lienholder anyway lol

Last edited by k7GixxerTaste; 01-05-2013 at 02:19 PM.
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Old 01-06-2013, 09:30 AM   #18
obc
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Re: Liable for crash after unauthorized use?

there is at fault in ny on a motorcycle, but you have to pay for it. there is no chance that he had it.

as for the rest of the story, ive no idea how you should handle it. you mentioned he's planning to sue as opposed to actually suing.
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Old 01-06-2013, 03:22 PM   #19
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Re: Liable for crash after unauthorized use?

Sure, he can sue. Anybody can sue for Anything.
But he will lose.

He has no police report, injury report, eyewitness statements...Nothing.
He took your motorcycle, without permission. Rode it, crashed it, LEFT the scene of an accident, then repaired the bike...all with no insurance or M-license.

If you ask me...that's like getting robbed at a drug deal, then calling the police that someone stole your money! You're the one going to jail instead.
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Old 01-06-2013, 03:34 PM   #20
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Re: Liable for crash after unauthorized use?

Similar happened a year or so ago to a friend of mine...sold the bike to a rider to unlicensed, uninsured rider, sadly for him, he didnt cancel his insurance at the time the new owner took the bike away..2 days later, new owner hits a pedestrian...pedestrian made a (successful) claim against my mate.

It doesnt seem right but UK at least, thats how it works.

You need that professional legal advice, when you have it, let us know what the actual reality of the situation is, good luck.
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