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

Collecting on a Personal Injury Judgment

Posted Friday, February 9, 2018 by Chris Thayer

You were injured in a car accident, or when you slipped and fell on a slippery substance at a department store, or when a restaurant served you undercooked meat, or by any other negligent act. You filed a personal injury lawsuit, and the court agreed that the other party acted negligently and that you are entitled to a specific amount of damages.

That is great news! So, what happens now? The negligent party (now called the debtor) might drag his or her heels in fulfilling the debt. In fact, he or she might not want to pay you anything. What are your options if you find yourself faced with an intransigent debtor?

Entry of Judgment

A creditor (the person who received a favorable judgment) has 10 years from entry of judgment to collect or enforce that judgment. When the judgment is “entered” depends on the court. For example, a superior court judgment is “entered” when it is delivered to the clerk’s office for filing, and a district court judgment is “entered” on the date of entry of judgment in the court docket. An experienced attorney can help you understand these semantics and what rule applies in your case.

There are several ways to collect a personal injury judgment. Two popular collection methods are by a writ of garnishment and by obtaining a judgment lien.

Writ of Garnishment

Garnishment entitles the creditor to take proceeds that belong to the debtor. This usually happens by garnishing the wages paid by an employer to the debtor or by garnishing proceeds in the debtor’s bank account. The county clerk issues the writ of garnishment and sends it to the employer, financial institution or other relevant entity, usually within five days of the entry of judgment.

An experienced attorney can help you find out where the debtor works or banks. If the debtor is not forthcoming with that information, then we can petition the court to intercede. *Judgment Lien*

A judgment lien entitles the creditor to proceeds from the sale of the debtor’s property. Washington law only permits judgment liens on real estate owned by the debtor, like land or a house. Other states permit liens on personal property like art and jewelry. The judgment lien attaches to the real estate for 10 years, even if the property changes hands.

Keep in mind that other creditors may also try to garnish the debtor’s wages or attach a lien to his or her property. There are also certain exemptions to contend with. For example, you can not deprive the debtor of a place to live or take every last cent he or she owns. Collecting a judgment can be complicated, which is why you need an experienced attorney on your side.

Contact Us Today

Contact one of our personal injury attorneys today for a free consultation if you were injured by a negligent act. Our experienced attorneys will examine the facts of your case and help determine your best legal options. We will then guide you through the litigation process, including how to collect on a favorable judgment. You deserve to be compensated for your injuries.

Can Parents File a Wrongful Death Claim on Behalf of Adult Children?

Posted Friday, February 2, 2018 by Chris Thayer

On his second day of work for a landscaping company in 2014, 19-year-old Bradley Hogue died when he got caught in the augur of a bark-blower truck. Pacific Topsoils pleaded guilty to violating worker safety regulations and received a $100,000 fine, which is the maximum penalty under Washington law. The state Department of Labor and Industries also agreed to lower the fine it originally imposed on the company in 2014 from $199,000 to $100,000.

But what about the Hogue family?

The 19-year-old was not married, and he did not have any children. Neither his parents nor his siblings were financially dependent on him. Under those circumstances, Washington law does not permit a family to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

Washington is one of only three states that does not allow financially independent parents to file wrongful death claims on behalf of adult children. Lawmakers and advocacy groups hope to change this law so that families like the Hogues can seek the compensation they deserve.

Filing a Wrongful Death Claim in Washington

Under current law, certain family members may file a wrongful death lawsuit against anyone whose negligence or wrongful act results in their loved one’s death. Eligible survivors are:

  • The personal representative of the decedent’s estate;
  • The decedent’s spouse or registered domestic partner;
  • The decedent’s children or stepchildren; or
  • If the decedent was not married or did not have any children, parents or siblings who were financially dependent on the decedent.

The statute of limitations (time limit) for filing a wrongful death claim in Washington is three years from the date of the death.

Eligible survivors may seek the following damages:

  • The decedent’s final medical bills and funeral and burial expenses;
  • Lost wages that the decedent likely would have earned throughout his or her lifetime;
  • Pain and suffering that the decedent experienced;
  • Loss of care, companionship and other noneconomic damages; and
  • Any relevant property damage costs

Proposed Changes to Washington’s Wrongful Death Law

There are currently two companion bills pending in the state House and Senate that would allow parents to file a wrongful death claim on behalf of an adult child who is not married and does not have any children, whether or not they were financially dependent on that child. The legislation would also, among other provisions, allow out-of-state parents to file claims for adult children who are killed in Washington.

There is still a long way to go before this bill could become law. It is currently under committee review in both chambers. The bill would then have to be considered by the full legislative chambers. If it passes both the House and Senate, any differences would have to be reconciled before making its way to the governor’s desk for signature or veto.

Our attorneys will keep abreast of any developments that affect your rights under the law.

Contact Us Today

Contact one of our personal injury attorneys today for a free consultation if your loved one was killed because of another person’s negligence or wrongful act. Our experienced attorneys will help recover the fullest extent of compensation to which you are entitled under Washington law, including medical costs, funeral and burial expenses, lost wages, and other related damages.

Dog Owners can be Held Liable for Bite Injuries

Posted Friday, January 26, 2018 by Chris Thayer

Dogs are popular pets, but at the end of the day, they are still animals and can be dangerous to humans. Keep in mind that there are certain dog breeds more prone to biting. They include pit bulls, bulldogs, chihuahuas, and German Shepherds, according to Canine Journal.

About 4.5 million dog bites occur in the U.S. every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 900,000 of those bites lead to infection.

If a dog bites someone, the dog’s owner can be held responsible for any resulting injuries. Dog owners are liable under Washington law in the following circumstances:

  • The dog bites someone while that person is in a public place or lawfully on the owner’s property (or any other private place).
  • It does not matter whether or not the dog has bitten anyone before. Under the “one bite rule,” the owner is responsible whether or not the dog had a history of viciousness.This law does not apply to the lawful use of police dogs.

If the dog attacks someone who is trespassing on private property, then that person likely does not have a viable injury claim. Additionally, the owner might successfully defend the claim if the victim teased, taunted, abused, or harmed the dog in any way. Dogs are more likely to attack if they are stressed or feel threatened.

Pit Bull Attack Against UPS Driver

In September of 2017, UPS driver Kevin Backlund was attacked by four pit bulls while trying to deliver a package to a home in the Puyallup area. He sustained 36 wounds that required more than 133 stitches.

He called for help when the dogs started attacking him and a fire chief came to rescue him. Officials determined that the four dogs are dangerous to the public and must be euthanized.

Backlund filed a lawsuit against the dog owners, claiming that they knew “their pit bull dogs were extremely vicious and dangerous, and that the animals had been specifically trained to seriously injure/and or kill people who entered onto the property.”

*What to do if You are Attacked by a Dog*These are the steps you should take if you are bitten by a dog:

  • Call for help like Backlund did if you can not extricate yourself from the situation.
  • Seek medical attention immediately. One of the biggest concerns with dog bites is infection.
  • If possible, identify who the dog owner is and any witnesses who might have seen the attack.
  • Contact an experienced attorney. You may be entitled to damages for your injuries.

Remember that you must file your personal injury lawsuit within Washington’s statute of limitations, which is three years from the date of the dog bite.

Contact Us Today

Contact one of our personal injury attorneys today for a free consultation if you were attacked by a dog. The dog’s owner might be liable for your injuries under Washington law. Our experienced attorneys will help recover the compensation that you deserve, including medical expenses.

Negligent Children and Negligent Supervision of Children

Posted Friday, January 19, 2018 by Chris Thayer

The law of negligence is fairly straightforward when the parties involved are adults. But what happens if the wrongdoer is a child? Most states, including Washington, hold parents responsible for certain acts committed by their minor children.

However, while Washington law says that parents can be found liable for failing to supervise their children, it is not that simple when the injured party is the parent’s own child.

Washington’s Parental Responsibility Law

Parents can be on the hook for harm caused by minor children under Washington’s parental responsibility law. The statute states that parents are liable if their child willfully or maliciously destroys property or inflicts personal injury. (The law also caps compensation for property damages at $5,000.) The statute does not create parental liability if a child acts carelessly or negligently and that negligence results in injury.

However, the statute also makes clear that parental liability may still exist under common law negligence.

What is Common Law Negligence?

Common law negligence is non-statutory law that develops through court decisions. For example, Washington courts have found parents negligent if they:

  • Know that their children have dangerous tendencies,
  • Failed to reasonably supervise or control their children based on those tendencies, and
  • A third party sustains reasonably foreseeable injuries because of that failure to supervise or control.

There are many different scenarios in which parents might be found negligent under this standard. For example, if a teen driver has received numerous citations for distracted driving and then causes an accident, injured parties may sue the parents for allowing the distracted driving to continue.

Is Negligent Parental Supervision a Viable Claim?

However, Washington case law establishes that negligent parental supervision is generally not a viable claim – at least when the child is the injured party. The Washington Supreme Court recently considered this issue in deciding whether a father could be assigned fault under the state’s contributory negligence laws for failing to supervise his child.

A 2-year-old boy was playing in his father’s driveway when Jeanne Paul, his father’s then-girlfriend, ran over him. The child sustained serious injuries and a personal injury lawsuit was brought against Paul on the boy’s behalf. Paul argued that the father was also responsible for not supervising his child properly. The jury determined that both Paul and the father were responsible and attributed 50% of the damages to each of them. However, the court determined that judgment could not be entered against the father because of the parental immunity doctrine, and the court only entered judgment for Paul’s 50% share of the damages.

The Washington Supreme Court held that there is no tort liability against parents based on negligent supervision. In other words, “it is not a tort to be a bad, or even neglectful, parent.” Thus, Paul was liable for all of the boy’s damages.

This is a tricky area of law. If your were injured by a negligent child or if your child was injured by a negligent actor, an experienced personal injury attorney can help.

Contact Us Today

Contact one of our personal injury attorneys today for a free consultation if you were injured by the negligent actions of a child. The child’s parents might be responsible for your damages. We can also help if your child was injured by someone else’s negligent behavior. Our experienced attorneys will help determine whether you have a viable claim and help recover the compensation that you deserve.

Did You Witness a Loved One’s Accident?

Posted Friday, January 12, 2018 by Chris Thayer

Washington law permits a family member who is present when a loved one is physically injured in an accident to recover damages for bystander negligent infliction of emotional distress. A family member who was not present but arrives at the scene shortly after the accident may also be entitled to compensation. What if the family member already knows about the accident before he or she arrives on the scene?

Knowledge of a Loved One’s Accident

Case 1

When Shaila Haynes learned that her husband had been in a motorcycle accident, she “honestly didn’t know” what to expect. Randy Haynes and two friends were riding their motorcycles on Interstate 90, west of Ellensburg, when an erratic van driver forced Randy off the road. One of the other riders knew that Shaila was at a friend’s house and called the friend, who in turn told Shaila about the accident.

Shaila and her friend immediately went to the accident scene, arriving about 10 to 15 minutes after the phone call. The ambulance just beat them there. When Shaila arrived, her husband was still in his original location, although he had been turned over and placed onto a backboard. She noticed his crumpled motorcycle, damaged helmet, and the blood on his head. Randy did not respond when Shaila knelt beside him, took his hand, and spoke to him. He died soon after being taken to the hospital.

The trial court ruled that Shaila could not recover damages for negligent infliction of emotional distress because she did not “unwittingly” stumble upon the accident. A Washington appeals court disagreed, finding in March of 2017 that Shaila only had limited information of the accident, and that she arrived before there was a material change in Randy’s condition or location.

Case 2

A different Washington appeals court recently reviewed a case in which Trina Cortese learned of her 17-year-old son’s death before arriving at the scene of the car accident. He died of mechanical asphyxiation after the pickup truck he was a passenger in overturned. One of the teen’s friends called Trina to tell her about the accident. Then the pickup driver’s father came to the house to tell Trina that her son had not survived the accident.

Trina and her husband arrived at the scene about 20 minutes after the accident. Emergency personnel had already blocked off the area, and their son’s body was lying on the side of the road and covered by a sheet. Unlike in Shaila’s case, the appeals court here found that there had been a material change in the accident scene. The court also determined that Trina’s knowledge of the accident was not limited and that she could not recover damages for negligent infliction of emotional distress.

Negligent infliction of emotional distress is a fact-specific claim, and it can be difficult for plaintiffs to prevail. An experienced personal injury attorney can evaluate the facts of your case and help you determine how to proceed.

Contact Us Today

Contact one of our personal injury attorneys today for a free consultation if you witnessed a loved one’s accident. You might be entitled to damages for negligent infliction of emotional distress. Our experienced attorneys will help determine whether you have a viable claim and help recover the compensation that you deserve.