I was injured in a bicycle collision by another bicycle rider, when he tried to avoid a pothole on a street. Who do I sue, the bicycle rider who ran into me, the city that left the pothole?
That’s a good question. Under California law, a plaintiff has to bring all parties that are potentially responsible for their bicycle injuries into a case. If that plaintiff doesn’t do that, they run the risk of the defendant they did bring into the case pointing to the other responsible party who’s not in the case. And it’s impossible for the plaintiff to recover from someone who’s not in the case. So in your factual scenario, if someone swerves to avoid a pothole and strikes someone else and causes a crash, and that plaintiff only brings in the other bicyclist, well, a reasonable jury could come back and say, “The defendant in that case isn’t at fault, ’cause he was just trying to avoid a pothole. I really think it’s the city who’s not maintaining the streets properly.”
And in that case, if you don’t bring the city into that lawsuit as well, then you could run the risk of recovering nothing. The more prudent case or path would be to bring in both the bicyclist that was trying to avoid the pothole and the government entity, to try to prove that, one, the defendant that was riding the bike wasn’t riding it in a reasonably prudent manner, and two, that the government entity or property owner knew about that pothole, knew it was dangerous, and didn’t fix it in time to avoid the crash (that led to the bicycle injuries).