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

Our Dog Bite Attorney Seattle Provides an Overview of Dog-Bite Laws

Posted Friday, March 11, 2016 by Chris Thayer

Clients sometimes ask our dog bite attorney Seattle who is responsible for dog bites in the state of Washington. The law clearly specifies that the owner is liable, and legislation covers various aspects of dog bite law as follows.

An Overview of Dog Bite Laws

State laws favor the victims of dog bites and hold owners responsible although landlords are generally excluded from this provision. However, those who keep or harbor a dog or act negligently can also be held responsible. If a dog previously acted aggressively, biting someone, injuring someone or acting as if it might hurt someone, then the responsible party will be held liable if the dog hurts anyone in the future. This knowledge, based on the canine’s previous actions, is called ‘scienter’ and applies to any domestic animal. Responsible parties include anyone who did not act to control the dog when it hurt someone, no matter how the canine hurt the injured party.

Scienter and Common Law Liability

According to case law, the dog’s owner, harborer or keeper can be found responsible for injury if he or she knows the dog’s aggressive tendencies and does not protect others. However, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant know about the dog’s tendency toward violence. The courts have labeled this as the ‘one-bite rule.’

Negligence Liability in Canine Bites

Although an owner is responsible if he or she has knowledge of a dangerous canine in the event of an injury, the same owner will be held negligent only if he or she fails to prevent an injury. The owner must exercise control similar to what another reasonable person would exercise in the same situation when considering the dog’s previous actions and the prevention of injuries.

Washington Legislation and Statutory Liability

State law indicates that even when a dog has not exhibited previously aggressive behavior, the dog’s owner is still responsible in the event of a canine bite.

Legal Issues and Aggressive Canines

According to state legislation, if the owner lets a vicious canine roam freely, he or she has committed a crime and could be held responsible under negligence laws. Local laws might differ slightly but will usually be more restrictive. For example, under Seattle city laws, when a canine is in public, it must be on a leash.

Landlord Liability

For the most part, landlords are completely exempt when a tenant owns a vicious dog, even if the landlord is aware of the dog’s dangerous behavior. Only the person directly responsible for the canine – the harborer, keeper or owner – is responsible. This holds true even when two tenants live on the property with the canine of one renter injuring another renter.

Defining an Owner

Since the owner is solely responsible, the court must define who, exactly, qualifies as an owner. In the case of Harris v. Turner, the homeowner, who did not own the dog, was not found responsible after a renter’s canine collided with a motorcycle, injuring a passenger. Instead, the courts ruled against the dog owners.

In the case of Shafer v. Beyers, the property owner was similarly not held responsible when another person sublet the owner’s apartment. The owners were not aware of the dog, and the sub-tenants were temporarily keeping the canine although it was not clear if they actually owned the animal. The court eventually decided that the animal did not show dangerous tendencies before the accident. As such, the case showed that the person’s scienter of the animal’s potential danger determines the level of liability.

Call Our Dog Bite Attorney Seattle at (866) 884-2417

If you or a loved one has been the victim of a canine attack or bite, Chris Thayer can provide you with further insight on dog bite law.

Understanding the Statute of Limitations for Filing a Dog Bite Lawsuit in Washington State

Posted Friday, March 4, 2016 by Chris Thayer

If you have been attacked and bitten by someone else’s dog, chances are that you incurred medical bills and other expenses. You may have missed work due to your injury, which means lost wages too. There’s also your pain and suffering to consider. To be compensated for these losses, you must file a lawsuit against whoever owns the dog. Is there still time to do so? By understanding Seattle dog bite law, including the statute of limitations, your case is more likely to have a positive outcome.

What is a Statute of Limitations?

First, many people are unclear about what a statute of limitations is. Put simply, it refers to the length of time during which you may bring a case to court. The clock starts ticking as soon as the incident occurs. If the statute of limitations for a particular charge is one year, then, you must file a lawsuit or press charges before the one-year anniversary of the incident has passed. Fortunately, you have a little longer than that to file a lawsuit for injuries that occurred due to a dog bite.

Personal Injury Statute of Limitations in Washington State

Dog bites and other animal-related injuries fall under the personal injury category in the state of Washington. Therefore, the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit because of a dog bite is the same as it is for any other type of personal injury case. By referring to the Revised Code of Washington section 4.16.080, you will see that “An action for injury to the person or rights of another…shall be commenced within three years.” In other words, all personal injury lawsuits in the state of Washington must be filed within three years. Once that period of time has passed, you are out of luck.

Don’t Run Out the Clock

It’s understandable to need to wait a little while before filing a lawsuit for compensation for your dog bite injury. After all, getting medical care is the first order of business. Like most people, you probably have lots of other things going on, so you may not be able to get to work on it right away. However, the sooner you file a suit, the better. At your earliest convenience, retain an experienced personal injury lawyer to assist you. The sooner they go to work for you, the likelier you are to have a good outcome. Facts will still be fresh in people’s minds, for instance, and it will be easier for your lawyer to obtain the evidence that he or she needs when the incident occurred relatively recently.

In addition to having a fairly generous statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits, Washington makes things a little easier on victims of dog bites by not requiring them to prove that the owner of the dog did anything wrong–at least, that’s the case if you were bitten and were either in a public place or if you had permission to be on private property at the time that the incident occurred. This is all outlined in the Revised Code of Washington section 16.08.040.

What if the Statute of Limitations Expires?

If more than three years have passed since you were bitten by a dog, you most likely have no options in regards to filing a lawsuit. If you try, the court will almost certainly dismiss your case outright. There are a few exceptions, however, and a skilled attorney can check to see if any of them apply to your situation. In rare instances, the statute of limitations clock can be “tolled,” or paused. Please note that it is exceedingly rare for exceptions to be made and that if the time limit has passed, you probably have no recourse for seeking compensation for your injuries. Again, this is why it is so important to act quickly when seeking compensation in personal injury cases.

Hire an Experienced Seattle Dog Bite Law Attorney Today

No one should have to worry about being attacked and bitten by a dog. When incidents like these occur, dog owners must be held responsible. For help with your dog bite case, contact Chris Thayer by calling (866) 884-2417 today.

Settling or Litigating: Our Washington Injury Lawyers Weigh In

Posted Sunday, February 28, 2016 by Chris Thayer

Clients sometimes question our Washington injury lawyers when deciding between settling a case or litigation. The insurance company might press for a low settlement, but their defense attorneys prefer to litigate the case simply because they earn more money that way. Once the case moves toward a trial, the lawyers bill the insurance company hourly fees based on the work that they do. They earn much less if they settle, and they do not earn commission.

Commitment to See the Case Through

On the other hand, taking a case to trial involves extensive work for you and your personal injury lawyer. He or she will need to follow up, working diligently on the case. The defense lawyer will not beg you to settle even if he or she knows that you are willing to take less than what you have offered. Since they are not motivated to settle, you both need to be ready to take the case to trial.

The Personality of the Insurance Company

Some insurance companies rarely settle personal injury cases for a just amount unless the case is for a large sum of money. Most attorneys know these companies by their reputation as very conservative at the settlement phase. Even if it is not in writing, their traditional philosophy is established and implemented company-wide. They usually have an attitude of “take it or leave it,” especially if a person is not represented by counsel. As such, they do not make the effort to settle smaller personal injury claims, especially when a claim includes mental health issues or soft tissue damage that might be hard to document medically.

The Personal Injury Attorney’s Philosophy

The insurance company leads these individuals without representation to believe that they need to take the settlement offer. Even personal injury lawyers often prefer to cave to a settlement, and the insurer knows this. A trial takes additional time and energy and costs more to litigate, so many attorneys would rather avoid the hassle.

Call Our Washington Injury Lawyers at (866) 884-2417

Chris Thayer and our Washington injury lawyers can provide you with seasoned counsel regarding settling or litigation in your case.

Washington Injury Lawyers Discuss Emotion During Cases Involving Psychological Injuries

Posted Monday, February 22, 2016 by Chris Thayer

While it is often difficult for people to express their emotions with others and especially with strangers, Washington injury lawyers can explain that sometimes it is necessary. If your accident case involves psychological damages, it is important that you be able to explain this aspect of your case in your own words.

Be Honest

One of the best ways that Washington injury lawyers can assist their clients in opening up about their psychological damages is simply to provide an honest explanation of your injuries. By being honest, you can provide a description of the psychological damages that you have sustained. Testify from your heart and not just your mind. Doing so can help show the power of your future testimony in a courtroom in front of a sympathetic jury. Additionally, a defense lawyer who personally observes the testimony of a credible victim who has suffered psychological damages may be more likely to recommend a reasonable settlement than someone who never experiences this.

Drop Your Guard

Although you may be afraid to be vulnerable, being so may be the only way to show the other side of the veracity of your claims. It is okay to cry during the deposition if you feel the urge. Additionally, if you are feeling depressed or other difficult emotions, it makes sense that you may be overcome with emotions. By being in touch with the trauma that you endured, you may feel more vulnerable. It is often to show that vulnerability during the proceedings. In fact, in cases involving depression and other diagnosed psychological trauma, the defense lawyer may even expect tears or other signs of emotion.

Legal Assistance

If you would like more information about how to address psychological damages in an accident case, contact Washington injury lawyers like Chris Thayer by calling (866) 884-2417.

Washington Injury Lawyers Use of the Admission Record

Posted Monday, February 15, 2016 by Chris Thayer

Washington injury lawyers are tasked with the responsibility of obtaining various documentation that establishes the cause of their victim’s injuries and their damages. One important form that establishes this information is the hospital admission record.

Obtaining Hospital Records

In order for Washington injury lawyers to obtain your hospital record, they usually must have certain information. This includes identifying information, such as your full legal name, social security number and date of birth. Usually, your lawyer must also have a release form that you sign giving the admissions department permission to release this information. Different hospital departments may have different sets of information. For example, your rehabilitation records and x-rays are likely not stored in the same location as your admissions record. Therefore, your attorney may have to make multiple requests in order to get your medical records, even if they are all stored at the same hospital.

Use of Hospital Admission Records

Your hospital admission and other records often include a wealth of information. This may include a detailed history involving your medical treatment, including information about different healthcare providers that assisted you on the day of the accident and subsequent to it. Your medical records may also indicate previous injuries that you sustained or pre-existing conditions. Your medical records may indicate your discharge summary, progress reports and referrals to specialists.

Legal Assistance

If you would like more information about how the hospital admission record or other documents may be used in your case, contact Washington injury lawyers like Chris Thayer by calling (866) 884-2417.