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

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.

Pending Federal Legislation That Could Affect Personal Injury Lawsuits

Posted Saturday, March 25, 2017 by Chris Thayer

The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed two bills that could affect personal injury litigants if also passed by the U.S. Senate and signed into law by President Donald Trump.

The Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act of 2017

One is the Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act of 2017, which requires federal judges to impose penalties on plaintiffs who bring frivolous lawsuits. While it doesn’t change the standard that judges use to determine whether a lawsuit is frivolous, it eliminates the plaintiff’s ability to avoid sanctions by voluntarily withdrawing his or claim within 21 days.

A lawsuit is considered frivolous if it was filed with the intention of harassing the party against whom the lawsuit is filed. It may also be considered frivolous if the plaintiff knows there was little or no chance that the lawsuit will succeed.

While proponents of the bill argue that reducing frivolous litigation will eliminate the overburdened federal judiciary, opponents contend that the bill isn’t necessary.

If the bill becomes law, it will not affect litigation in state courts. But Seattle residents pursuing personal injury claims might bring their claims in federal court, particularly if they are claims are against an out-of-state resident. It is imperative that any person pursuing a personal injury lawsuit consult with an experienced attorney to ensure that they are bringing a viable and not a frivolous claim.

The Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act of 2017

The second bill is the Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act of 2017, which would make it more difficult for plaintiffs to file class actions in federal court. Any individual who wants to join the class action would have to prove that he or she suffered the same type and the same extent of personal injury or economic group that the lead plaintiff suffered.

Opponents argue that the bill violates the constitutional separation of powers by impeding on courts’ ability to determine their own rules and procedures. They also argue that the bill erodes the fairness of the class action process.

If this bill becomes law, it could affect personal injury class lawsuits, which often arise when something happens that injures multiple people at the same time (like a defective product). Making all class action members prove that they’ve effectively suffered the same injury would make it difficult for everyone to receive the compensation that they deserve. If the bill becomes law, it might be more difficult for class action lawsuits to succeed and would-be class members might have to bring individual personal injury lawsuits.

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If you are pursuing a personal injury claim, the last thing you need to worry about is legal procedure. The Pivotal Law Group stays abreast of the latest developments in judicial rules and procedures and will ensure that you file a viable personal injury claim that won’t get you into trouble. (We will also make sure that your claim is filed in the proper court.) Contact one of our experienced personal injury attorneys today for a free consultation.

Laws Specific to Motorcyclists

Posted Sunday, March 19, 2017 by Chris Thayer

Laws Specific to Motorcyclists

Motorcyclists lack the protection of an enclosed vehicle, which is why riders are more likely to suffer injuries or die when involved in an accident. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 4,693 motorcyclists died in crashes in 2015. In fact, motorcycle deaths accounted for 13 percent of all motor vehicle accident fatalities. There were also 88,000 motorcyclists injured, down from 92,000 in 2014.

Motorcycle Accidents in Seattle

There are unfortunately numerous examples of motorcycle accidents that have resulted in fatalities and serious injuries. Recently, a motorcyclist died in a crash along the Alaskan Way Viaduct, an elevated highway in Seattle.

In August 2016, a motorcyclist was killed when his bike crashed on the 1st Avenue Bridge near State Route 9 in South Seattle. He missed the turn onto an off ramp, crashing into the guardrail and falling to the street below. A witness to the accident said that the man was driving too fast to safely navigate the “treacherous” corner.

In March 2016, two motorcyclists crashed into each other on Airport Way near 8th Avenue South. A man was killed, and a woman sustained life-threatening injuries.

(Note that wearing a helmet can significantly reduce the risk of injury in motorcycle accidents. Washington is one of 20 states (and the District of Columbia) that requires all motorcyclists to wear helmets.)

Pedestrians are also in danger of being injured by a motorcyclist. For example, in December 2016 a motorcyclist severely injured a pedestrian in North Seattle. The woman was walking in a designated crosswalk when a motorcycle hit her at full speed. A surveillance video captured the incident, in which the motorcyclist failed to brake and the woman was lifted into the air by the force of the impact.

Special Laws for Motorcyclists

The state of Washington has specific laws designed to keep motorcyclists safe (or as safe as possible). If a driver doesn’t adhere to one of these laws, he or she could injure himself or someone else. Moreover, violating one of these laws might make it harder for a driver injured in an accident to recover damages from another responsible party. (Washington is a comparative fault state. If you are partially at fault for your injuries then any damages awarded to you will be reduced by your percentage of fault.)

Other than the helmet law mentioned above, here are a few other laws specific to motorcyclists:

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If you or a loved one has been injured in a motorcycle accident, you might be entitled to compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages and other damages. Contact one of our experienced personal injury attorneys for a free consultation.