The J. Murphy Firm is a personal injury law firm in Pittsburgh. As personal injury lawyers, we cover a variety of cases, such as motorcycle crashes. Our entire staff is competent, compassionate, and client focused. We care about bikers and we understand how to deal with and overcome the potential biases bikers may face after an accident.

The vast majority of motorcycle crash cases are the result of another driver, usually operating a normal passenger vehicle, not seeing the motorcyclist or not judging the motorcyclists’ speed and position properly. Approximately two-thirds of motorcycle crashes where another vehicle is involved are caused by the other driver violating the cyclists’ right of way.

As a legal matter, most of the mistakes I am going to list are actually the other driver’s fault. Unfortunately, the laws of the road and the laws of physics aren’t always the same. As a motorcyclist, you will have to assume that you are invisible to other drivers.

Car Door

This is a pretty common scenario. A motorcyclist is driving in between two lanes of cars and a driver opens his car door right in front of the motorcyclist. Just because you will fit doesn’t mean you should try. Don’t give in to the temptation of squeezing past traffic and stay out of the deadly area between lanes of traffic or between traffic and parked cars.

Left Turn

Another common type of motorcycle accident is where another driver makes a left turn right in front of the oncoming motorcyclist. The average driver is looking out for other cars, and may not see, notice, or grasp the speed of an oncoming motorcycle. Drive defensively and watch out for drivers who might turn left in front of you. It is a good idea for all motorcyclists to get in the mindset that other drivers are simply less likely to see them, and consider that in all situations.

Sharp Corner

This is more common with newer motorcyclists. Not all curves in the road have a constant radius and the speed you enter a curve may not be appropriate throughout the entire curve. Unless you can see the entire curve or are already familiar with it, be careful with your speed and err on the side of caution.


Operating a motorcycle presents challenges and risks far in excess of those involved in operating a normal car or truck. If it is a bad idea to drive a car under the influence of alcohol or drugs, it is more than doubly so with a motorcycle. Never, ever, operate a motorcycle when under the influence.


This is a variation on the sharp corner problem. Here you are negotiating a curve, or hill, or trying to stop and there is gravel or loose dirt, or even spilled oil on the roadway. These are possibly hundreds of times more dangerous on a motorcycle. Keep your eyes out for these potential death traps and avoid them at all costs. Never trust that road ahead which you can’t see will be clear of these wipe out hazards.


In his hit, “You May Be Right,” rock star Billy Joel sang about how driving your motorcycle home in the rain proves that you are insane. The good news is that motorcycle and tire technology have both come a long way since that song was released in 1980. While it won’t be pleasant, riding a motorcycle in the rain is a lot safer today. Remember that metal surfaces like streetcar tracks will be extra slippery and take your time.

Lane Changes

This is another nightmare scenario caused by auto drivers not seeing motorcycles. You should anticipate that auto drivers are unlikely to see you and may change lanes in front of you, or even potentially drive into you. Whatever you do, don’t make a crash like this more likely by lingering in the blind spots of cars, vans, and trucks.

We do hope that you enjoy the spring biking season. Please be careful and anticipate that you will be invisible to other drivers. Happy trails!

If you or a loved one has suffered from a personal injury due to a motorcycle accident, contact us.