Seattle Personal Injury Attorney Chris Thayer
Seattle Personal Injury Attorney Chris Thayer
Handling Personal Injury Claims in the Seattle Area and Throughout Washington Since 1995

My name is Chris Thayer and I am a personal injury attorney practicing in downtown Seattle. I handle personal injury, medical malpractice and wrongful death claims throughout the greater Seattle area, including Issaquah, Mercer Island and Kirkland.

I am here to help you.

Call for a free consultation (206) 340-2008

The Seattle Personal Injury Blog

Understanding Premises Liability Law

Posted Saturday, May 6, 2017 by Chris Thayer

Washington law holds property owners responsible for maintaining their premises and warning potential visitors of any hidden hazards. But what does that mean? The general rule is that if you are injured while visiting someone’s home or a business establishment, the owner might be liable for your medical expenses, lost wages and other related expenses.

That’s not the end of the story, however. Whether the owner can be held responsible (and what he has to do to keep you safe) depends on whether he owed you a duty of care. This standard is based on the visitor’s legal status. There are four different “visitor” categories: invitee, social guest, licensee or trespasser.

Who Is an Invitee?

If you are an invitee, that means you were invited onto someone’s property. Generally this means you were invited (explicitly or implicitly) for business purposes or public purposes (for example, the public is generally invited to visit public parks).

Property owners have a duty to exercise ordinary care in maintaining safe conditions where invitees are invited to go or reasonably expected to be. Business owners are also responsible for protecting invitees from certain types of criminal conduct.

Who Is a Licensee?

If you enter someone’s property with the owner’s permission for your own business purposes, then you are a licensee. For example, if you are a door-to-door salesman and you knock on someone’s front door, it’s not because you were invited but because that person “allowed” you to approach.

The property owner is only responsible for exercising reasonable care to fix unsafe conditions that he is or should be aware of, or to at least post a warning. For example, if a step on the owner’s front porch is rotting then he might be held responsible if he doesn’t fix it or warn potential visitors of the unsafe condition.

The caveat is that the licensee can’t know or have reason to know of the unsafe condition. In the case of the salesman, if he had been to that house before and knew the step was rotting, it’s difficult to claim that he wasn’t forewarned of the danger. He might not have a viable claim against the property owner.

Who Is a Social Guest?

A social guest is a subset of the “licensee” category. You are a social guest if you come onto the owner’s property for non-business purposes. So if it’s your friend with the rotting porch step, he owes you the same duty of care that he owed to the door-to-door salesman.

Who Is a Trespasser?

If you go onto someone’s property without permission, that means you are trespassing and you are doing so at your own risk. Property owners don’t owe you any particular duty of care other than not deliberately injuring you.

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If you are injured at someone’s home or business, you might have a premises liability claim. Contact one of our personal injury attorneys today for a free consultation. We will determine whether you have a viable claim and help ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve.

Workers Exposed to Asbestos

Posted Saturday, April 29, 2017 by Chris Thayer

Certain professions pose greater health risks than others, especially when it comes to asbestos exposure. Both the federal government and Washington regulate the use of asbestos, but the dangers have not been eliminated.

What Is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a human carcinogen that causes deadly diseases, such as asbestosis, mesothelioma, and lung and gastrointestinal cancers. Professional activities that can lead to the release of asbestos fibers include the installation, use, maintenance, repair, removal and disposal of asbestos-containing building materials, which is why Washington regulates the manufacture and sale of such materials (among other asbestos-containing products).

Note that the definition of “building material” does not include automobile parts, but those can also contain asbestos, and manufacturers, suppliers and employers can be held liable for diseases caused by exposure.

Asbestos minerals are composed of durable fibers that are resistant to fire and many chemicals. Builders and other manufacturers have taken advantage of its durability and incorporated asbestos into insulation, construction materials and other products since the 1800s. It is also commonly used in automobile parts, like brakes, gaskets and clutches. But asbestos fibers that become airborne can cause significant health problems, as described above.

Recent Lawsuits and Other Incidents Involving Asbestos Exposure

A jury recently found that NAPA Auto Parts and Genuine Parts Corp. were liable in the death of a heavy equipment operator who was exposed to asbestos on the job. Jerry Coogan, who lived in Kettle Falls, Washington, died in 2015 of complications from mesothelioma, a cancer caused by asbestos exposure. The jury awarded Coogan’s survivors $81.5 million.

A state appellate court recently overturned a lower court decision dismissing a wrongful death and personal injury lawsuit brought against General Electric Co. Yuen Wing Woo, who worked in the Navy as a machinist, died from mesothelioma in 2009. His estate argued that Yoo was exposed to asbestos because GE provided the Navy with steam turbines that contained asbestos. The lower court found that GE didn’t have a duty to warn about the dangers of asbestos exposure because it didn’t manufacture the asbestos-containing products. Since the appellate court reversed that decision, the case will go to trial.

In October 2016 the state Department of Labor & Industries fined an asbestos removal contractor for exposing workers to asbestos during renovation work. The company was fined $87,000 and lost its certification to perform asbestos removal.

Workers at Risk of Asbestos Exposure

Aside from construction workers, machinists and asbestos removal contractors, other professions at risk of asbestos exposure include:

Shipbuilders,Timber industry workers,Power plant employees,People who work on oil refineries, andAluminum producers.

This is not an exhaustive list. If you suspect that you or a loved one has been exposed to asbestos while on the job, contact an experienced personal injury attorney.

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If you are ill because of asbestos exposure, or if you have lost a loved one from an asbestos-related disease, you might be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, lost wages and other related expenses. Contact one of our personal injury attorneys today for a free consultation.

Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit Against the City of Seattle

Posted Saturday, April 15, 2017 by Chris Thayer

In 2016, an appellate court ruled that a family could bring a wrongful death and personal injury lawsuit against Seattle for the city’s alleged failure to properly supervise a repeat drunk driver. The driver killed a couple and seriously injured their daughter-in-law and infant grandson when he ran into them while they were crossing a street.

The family argued that the driver’s probation officer failed to properly supervise him after an earlier charge of driving under the influence, and that he should have been in prison or more closely monitored. The appellate court decision allowed a King County jury to decide whether or not Seattle acted negligently.

Lawsuit Against Tukwila Police Department

In nearby Tukwila, a lawsuit was filed against the Police Department after a police dog severely injured a domestic violence suspect. The dog ripped a chunk out of the 19-year-old’s calf, which caused a permanent injury and resulted in $81,000 in medical bills.

The attack came after an earlier incident involving a sheriff’s deputy, whose leg was also injured by the dog. The deputy filed a personal injury claim against Tukwila that was settled for $175,000. The dog was placed on administrative leave but was allowed to return after having his teeth filed down.

The domestic violence suspect who filed the more recent personal injury lawsuit argued that the Police Department knew that the dog was dangerous and should not have allowed the dog to return to work.

Seattle Settlement Agreement in Wrongful Death Lawsuit

In 2014, a bicyclist was killed when a truck making a left turn from Second Avenue onto University Street crashed into her. Two weeks after the accident the city made the left-side bicycle lane safer for cyclists by adding a green signal icon for bicyclists and banning vehicles from turning while bikes and pedestrians travel from north to south.

The cyclist’s family claimed that their loved one died because Seattle’s traffic control plan created dangerous conditions for bicyclists. The city ultimately paid the family $3.5 million to settle the claim.

Suing the City of Seattle for Negligence

The City of Seattle (or a municipal agency) can be held responsible for negligent actions that result in injury or death. But suing the city is not as easy as suing an individual. There are different procedures for filing a personal injury lawsuit against a government entity, which is why you should consult with an experienced personal injury attorney.

The first step is filing a claim for damages with the City of Seattle. The claim must be filed on an official form, which can be downloaded on the city government’s website. The form must be filed within the state’s statute of limitations, which varies according to the type of claim. Again, always consult with an experienced attorney before proceeding.

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If you or a loved one has been injured because of the negligent actions of the city, a municipal agency or a municipal official, contact one of our personal injury attorneys today for a free consultation.

Personal Injury Lawsuits Involving on a Minor’s Behalf

Posted Saturday, April 8, 2017 by Chris Thayer

A junior high school north of Salt Lake City, Utah, had an interesting exercise for teaching students the dangers of alcohol impairment. But in 2014, the exercise itself proved dangerous for a 13-year-old girl.

Kylie Nielsen was a student at Centennial Junior High School when she participated in the alcohol impairment exercise. She and her classmates ran around the the classroom while wearing “drunk goggles,” which slow reaction time, distort vision, alter depth perception, reduce peripheral vision and simulate other effects of alcohol impairment.

Kylie was running around the room when she got her foot stuck in a desk, breaking it in multiple places. The injury required two surgeries and resulted in one of her legs being shorter than the other. Sadly, Kylie had just qualified for an all-star track meet and was unable to compete after the accident. In fact, she quit running track all together and switched to playing golf.

The Seattle Times reported that Kylie’s school district agreed to a $100,000 settlement with the family, including $13,000 in medical expenses, $26,000 in legal fees and $61,000 put into a trust account that Kylie can access when she turns 18.

Who Can File a Personal Injury Lawsuit on a Minor’s Behalf?

While the legal process for a minor’s personal injury claim is similar to that for an adult’s claim, there are some differences. For example, Washington law does not permit minors – children under the age of 18 – to file lawsuits on their own behalf. The lawsuit must be filed by a guardian ad litem, someone appointed by the court to represent the best interests of the child.

The first step is petitioning the court to appoint a suitable guardian. The court will often appoint the child’s parents, but there are some situations where the parent is not the best option. For example, if the child’s injury was caused by the parent’s negligence, then there is a conflict of interest that could prevent the parent from acting in the child’s best interest. Once the court appoints a guardian, he or she can file a lawsuit on the minor’s behalf.

Different Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Claims Involving Minors

Generally there is a three-year statute of limitations in which to file a personal injury lawsuit. Adults have three years from the date of the accident to file a claim. But Washington law delays the limitations period for children. The clock doesn’t start running until the child’s 18th birthday, which means the child has until his or her 21st birthday to file a claim.

Of course, the lawsuit may be filed while the claimant is still a minor (hence the need for a guardian ad litem). Once the case has been resolved the damages owed to the child may, like Kylie’s, be placed into a trust account until a specified point in time.

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If your child has been injured due to someone else’s negligence, your child has the right to compensation. Contact an experienced personal injury attorney at Pivotal Law Group today for a free consultation.

Federal Judge Says Government Knew Soldier Posed “Substantial Risk”

Posted Saturday, April 1, 2017 by Chris Thayer

A wrongful death occurs when someone dies because of the negligence or misconduct of another person. If someone’s behavior results in the death of your loved one, your family has the right to recover damages for lost future wages, lost compensation, and pain and suffering.

The following is an example of conduct that a federal judge might find resulted in two wrongful deaths. Note that this is a federal claim involving federal law. Washington, however, also has a wrongful death statute that allows families to recover damages.

Wrongful Deaths Caused by Soldiers

In 2011, a high school student and her boyfriend, a Marysville native, were killed (in an execution-style shooting) in the woods outside of Fort Stewart, a military base in Georgia. The student’s parents brought a wrongful death lawsuit against the federal government, claiming that the government acted negligently in not acting on incriminating evidence it had against the group of soldiers that killed their daughter.

A federal judge in Seattle recently issued an adverse (or legal) inference, finding that the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Army knew two months before the shooting that the leader of the renegade group of soldiers “posed a substantial risk” to the public.

The Marysville native was former Army Pvt. Michael Roark, who was allegedly killed because the renegade group leader, former Pvt. Isaac Aguigui no longer trusted him. Roark’s 17-year-old girlfriend died because she was with him. (Aguigui is a native of Cashmere, which is in Chelan County.)

There will be a bench trial in April. (Note that while Washington has a wrongful death statute, so does the federa

The Government’s Evidence

Here is some of the evidence that the government had that Aguigui posed a risk to the public:

In 2009, Aguigui was thrown out of the U.S. Military Academy prep school because he held a knife to another cadet’s throat.In 2011, Aguigui told military police officials that he and another soldier had conspired to kill a civilian drug dealer.Also in 2011, Aguigui’s pregnant wife was found dead. (He was convicted of her murder in 2014.)The day after his wife died, Aguigui applied for Army death benefit, which he used to fund his plan to overthrow the government.$30,000 of that money was used to buy dozens of military-style firearms.Aguigui was planning an attack at Fort Stewart and had talked about poisoning Washington’s apple crop.

While this is an extreme example, it is possible that your employer or someone else had information that could have prevented your loved one’s wrongful death. You might be entitled to damages if someone has withheld information or failed to act when they had an obligation to do so, and that action (or inaction) results in a wrongful death.

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If a loved one has died because of the negligence or misconduct of another person, your family has the right to compensation. Contact an experienced wrongful death attorney at Pivotal Law Group today for a free consultation.