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

Which Court Should You File Your Personal Injury Lawsuit In?

Posted Saturday, May 27, 2017 by Chris Thayer

Which Court Should You File Your Personal Injury Lawsuit In?

There are two important questions to ask before filing your personal injury lawsuit:

Does the court have jurisdiction over your claims?Are you filing your lawsuit in the proper venue?

An experienced personal injury attorney will know the answers to these questions, but it’s also helpful to have a basic understanding of them yourself.

What Is Jurisdiction?

If a court has jurisdiction over your claims, that means it has the legal authority to make a decision in your case. There are two types of jurisdiction: subject matter and personal. Subject matter jurisdiction means the court has the authority over a particular type of claim. For example, in Washington, district courts have jurisdiction over personal injury claims that don’t exceed $100,000 (not including attorney’s fees). So if you are seeking damages for $30,000 worth of injuries then you would file your lawsuit in district court.

Personal jurisdiction is a court’s power over particular parties. Courts only have personal jurisdiction over parties who have certain contacts with that forum. For example, if you live in Seattle, then a district court in King County would have jurisdiction over your claims, unless they involved another party who had absolutely no connection to King County (determining whether the court has subject matter or personal jurisdiction can require extensive litigation).

What Is Venue?

Venue is the place where a case is heard. More than one court might have jurisdiction over your personal injury claims (for example, the district court in the county where you live as well as the district court in the county where the accident took place), but there might only be one or two proper venues.

In fact, Washington has particular rules for determining the proper venue for a particular legal action. Personal injury claims should be brought in the county in which the accident occurred or the county in which the defendant resides. If there is more than one defendant involved then the proper venue is a county in which any of the defendants resides.

What happens if your personal injury lawsuit is against a corporation? For example, if you were injured because of a defective product then you might sue the manufacturer of that product, but where? Washington plaintiffs have four options:

Sue the corporation in the county in which the tort was committed (where the injury occurred).Sue the corporation in the county where the work was performed (i.e., where the product was manufactured).If a contract is at issue, sue the corporation in the county where the agreement was entered into.Sue the corporation in the county where it has its corporate residence.

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When you have multiple venue options, it often comes down to strategy: Where is the best place for you to file your personal injury lawsuit? An experienced personal injury attorney will ensure that your personal injury lawsuit is filed in the proper court so that you receive the compensation you deserve. Contact one of our personal injury attorneys today for a free consultation.

Are You Entitled to Damages for Pain and Suffering?

Posted Saturday, May 20, 2017 by Chris Thayer

Not all injuries are physical. The emotional pain that accompanies a physical injury can be just as damaging as the actual injury. That’s why Washington law permits victims to recover certain non economic damages. How much a personal injury claimant may recover depends on whether he is pursuing damages in a courtroom or from an insurance company.

Economic Vs. Non economic Damages

Washington places a cap on the amount of non economic damages that personal injury claimants are entitled to receive in personal injury lawsuits. But what is the difference between economic and non economic damages?

Washington law defines “economic damages” as “objectively verifiable monetary losses, including medical expenses, loss of earnings, burial costs, loss of use of property, cost of replacement or repair, cost of obtaining substitute domestic services, loss of employment, and loss of business or employment opportunities.”

In other words, “economic damages” are expenses with obvious monetary values. If you receive a medical bill for $5,000, then your medical damages are $5,000. If is almost impossible to dispute that amount.

“Non economic damages,” however, are “subjective non monetary losses, including, but not limited to pain, suffering, inconvenience, mental anguish, disability or disfigurement incurred by the injured party, emotional distress, loss of society and companionship, loss of consortium, injury to reputation and humiliation, and destruction of the parent-child relationship.”

Because such damages are subjective, Washington has a specific formula for determining how much a claimant is entitled to recover in a personal injury lawsuit (note that there is not a cap on how much you can receive from an insurance company).

Calculating Non economic Damages

Non economic damages are determined by multiplying 0.43 by the personal injury claimant’s annual average wage and life expectancy (not less than 15 years). The claimant may not recover damages more than this amount.

But that cap is limited to personal injury lawsuits. Insurance companies have their own methods of determining how much a person may receive for pain and suffering. For example, companies may use a variation on the multiplier method that multiples the claimant’s medical expenses and other economic damages by 1.5 to 5, depending on the severity of the injuries. In some cases, “5” might not be enough and the company might use a higher multiplier. Factors the company may consider in deciding on what multiplier to use include:

Length of recovery – prolonged recoveries of six months or more may justify a higher multiplier;Permanent scarring, mobility issues, pain or other medical issues; andDocumentation from your physician that you will have recurring problems in the future.

Proving pain and suffering can be difficult, which is why you should always consult with an experienced attorney before pursuing both economic and non economic damages. Remember that you have three years from the date of the accident to file a personal injury lawsuit.

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If you have been injured due to someone else’s negligence, you might be able to recover non economic damages. Contact one of our personal injury attorneys today for a free consultation. We will help ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve.

Lawsuits Involving Women Who Used Baby Powder

Posted Saturday, May 13, 2017 by Chris Thayer

In November 2016, two Washington women filed lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson (along with two Oregon families), alleging that the company knew there was a link between its baby powder and ovarian cancer. These two women regularly used the powder for decades before being diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2010 and 2013, respectively.

What Is Talcum Powder?

Women often use talcum powder (more commonly known as baby powder) for genital hygiene purposes. Talc is a mineral that can be found all across the United States, including here in Washington. When talc is crushed into powder, it is capable of absorbing moisture, oils and odors but is easily washed off of human skin, which is why it is often used in bathroom and other consumer products.

Unfortunately, talcum powder has been linked to several types of cancers. While the science is inconclusive, the American Cancer Society notes that using this powder may increase your risk of cancer. The three main cancers that may be linked to talcum powder are:

Ovarian cancer – Because the powder is often applied to the genital area, some studies have shown that prolonged use may increase a woman’s risk of ovarian cancer.Uterine or endometrial cancer – This type of cancer is more likely to affect postmenopausal women who have regularly applied talcum powder to their genital areas.Lung cancer – This is more of an issue with miners and others who are exposed to talc in its raw form. But this possibility hasn’t been widely studied.

Scientists will continue to study the links between talcum powder and cancer, especially since babies are also exposed to it.

Verdicts Against Johnson & Johnson

A St. Louis jury recently awarded $55 million in damages to a South Dakota woman who alleged that her use of Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder gave her ovarian cancer. The company’s defeat in that case follows an earlier St. Louis jury verdict awarding $72 million to the family of an Alabama woman who died of ovarian cancer.

Hundreds of similar lawsuits have been filed against Johnson & Johnson, but these are the first two that have resulted in damages.

Filing a Talcum Powder Lawsuit

Companies like Johnson & Johnson have a duty to provide consumers with safe products. If there are risks involved with their product (like the possibility of developing cancer), they have a duty to provide adequate warnings. If they fail to do so then they are susceptible to personal injury lawsuits.

If you have been injured by talcum powder or another potentially defective product, you might be able to recover medical expenses, lost wages, and damages for pain and suffering. If you have a lost a loved one because of a defective product, you might be able to recover damages for funeral expenses.

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If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer and have been regularly using Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder, you might have a claim against the company. 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.

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.

Contact Us Today

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.