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

Bringing a Personal Injury Lawsuit for Childhood Sexual Abuse

Posted Friday, March 30, 2018 by Chris Thayer

Another trial is underway in a lawsuit filed against the Kennewick School District for allegedly failing to protect high school students from sexual abuse.

15 men claim that administrators and teachers knew that Bill Pickerel, a former teacher and wrestling coach, took out-of-town trips with male students. They are seeking millions of dollars in damages for the district’s alleged negligence in allowing Pickerel to take students on these overnight trips.

The Facts

Pickerel worked for the Kennewick School District for almost 40 years. He started his career at Park Junior High before teaching at Kennewick High, where he retired in 1998. He continued on as a part-time substitute teacher until he was removed from that list in 2007.

He pleaded guilty in 2008 to molestation and sexual misconduct with a minor. Over the years, Pickerel took numerous boys on overnight trips to Seattle, which were not sponsored by the school or school district. The district argues that the parents allowed their sons to take these trips, but the men argue that the district knew about the trips and did not follow the proper standard of care to keep the students safe.

While the criminal charges involved five boys, Pickerel confessed to police that he lost count of the number of boys he molested during a 27-year period. He served five and a half years of a 10-year jail sentence and is not a party to the civil suit. He is, however, a registered sex offender.

The civil lawsuit involves men ranging in age from their 20s to late 40s. How are these men able to bring these lawsuits years, and sometimes decades, after these trips took place?

The Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations, or deadline, for filing a personal injury lawsuit in Washington is normally three years from the date of the accident or injury. But claims based on childhood sexual abuse are treated differently. The state recognizes that victims “may repress the memory of the abuse or be unable to connect the abuse to any injury.” And while “victims may be aware of injuries related to the childhood sexual abuse, more serious injuries may be discovered many years later.”

That is why the time limit for filing a personal injury lawsuit based on childhood sexual abuse does not even begin to run until the child turns 18. Claims may be filed within the later of the following periods:

  • Within three years of the allegedly abusive act that caused the injury,
  • Within three years of the time the victim discovered or reasonably should have discovered the injury, or
  • Within three years of the time the victim discovered that the abuse caused the injury.

Note that it does not matter what the child’s parent or guardian knew or did not know. That knowledge “shall not be imputed to a person under the age of eighteen years.”

Contact Us Today

Contact one of our personal injury attorneys today for a free consultation if you or a loved one were the victim of childhood sexual abuse. Our experienced attorneys will examine the facts of your claim and help recover the compensation that you deserve.

Who Pays When Your Vehicle is Damaged by a Pothole in the Road?

Posted Friday, March 23, 2018 by Chris Thayer

Potholes are a menace to all drivers, especially in Seattle, where the City Department of Transportation has recognized a pervasive problem with the city’s roads. In fact, in 2017 Seattle launched a targeted 10-day campaign to address the pothole problem. An ongoing effort asks residents to report potholes to city officials by using the FindIt FixIt app, filling out an online form, or calling the department.

Hitting a pothole can cause serious damage to your car. Since it is not your fault that there are potholes in the road, who is responsible for paying for that damage?

*Will the City Pay for Damage Caused by Potholes?*In February 2015, Jason Tingle hit a pothole as he merged onto Interstate 5 from Interstate 405. He said the impact “shook the steering wheel and jolted the whole car,” causing $1,100 in damage. He filed a claim with the state, which compensated him for the entire $1,100.

Drivers generally have two options for requesting compensation after a pothole incident - file an insurance claim or file a claim with the state, county, city or other entity responsible for maintaining the road. You may file both an insurance claim and a tort claim, but the government will likely deny your claim if the insurance covers the damage in full.

*Filing a Claim Against Seattle or Washington State*The first step in filing a claim against Seattle is filing an official damages claim with the City Clerk. The form must be filed within the applicable statute of limitations, which is three years for personal injury claims (including property damage).

You may submit receipts, photos, and other supporting evidence to bolster your claim. The City Clerk will send your claim to the Risk Management Office and a claims adjuster will investigate it and recommend a resolution. The city may decide to pay you a sum of money, transfer your claim to another entity, or deny your claim completely.

Claims typically take about 60 days to resolve, but complicated cases can take much longer. If the city denies your claim, then litigation might be your best option. An experienced attorney can help determine your best course of action.

Claims arising against the state must be presented to the Office of Risk Management in the Department of Enterprise Services using the official claim form, which is available on the department’s website. If, after consulting with an experienced attorney, you decide to file a personal injury lawsuit, you must wait 60 calendar days after delivering the form to the department.

An experienced attorney can walk you through the claims process against Seattle and Washington, as well as other municipalities, counties, and potentially responsible entities. If your claim is denied, we will then guide you through the litigation process.

*Contact Us Today*Contact one of our personal injury attorneys today for a free consultation if your car is damaged by a pothole in the road. You might have legal recourse against the city, county, state, or other entity responsible for maintaining the road. Our experienced attorneys can help you recover compensation for the damage to your vehicle.

Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against WSU After Negligent Data Breach

Posted Thursday, March 15, 2018 by Chris Thayer

Someone (or multiple someones) stole confidential information on almost 1.2 million people from Washington State University in April 2017, including Social Security numbers, names, and health records. The incident happened when a burglar broke into an Olympia storage facility and took a safe containing a hard drive on which WSU’s Social and Economic Sciences Research Center stored information about state education and career trends.

Victims of this data breach filed a class action lawsuit against WSU in December, alleging negligence and violations of the state Consumer Protection Act. Specifically, the victims claim that it was negligent to store personal information at a self-storage facility with no surveillance cameras, and that the university violated the consumer protection law by not immediately notifying the victims of the breach. The university did not notify the victims until June, almost two months after discovering the theft.*Washington’s Consumer Protection Act*

The Consumer Protection Act protects consumers from unfair and deceptive trade practices. Washington Supreme Court has held that consumers must prove the following in order to succeed on a claim under the CPA:

  • The business engaged in an unfair or deceptive act,
  • The unfair or deceptive act occurred in trade or commerce,
  • The unfair or deceptive act also impacted the public interest,
  • The consumer’s business or property has been injured, and
  • The injury to the consumer’s business or property was caused by the unfair or deceptive act.

In establishing these elements, the consumers in the WSU case might also be able to prove negligence - that the university owed them a duty of care, breached that duty, and caused them injury.

*What is a Class Action Lawsuit?*Multiple people injured by the same incident, like the WSU data breach, can file a class action lawsuit. A class action is a type of lawsuit in which a group of people collectively files a claim. Class actions are typically more cost-efficient because litigation costs are divided among a larger group of people. They are also more efficiently judicially. A class action also vests control over litigation decisions in an individual representative or a small group of representatives, which means that not everyone has a say in legal strategy. An experienced attorney can explain the other advantages and disadvantages of filing or joining in on a class action.

There are certain prerequisites for filing a class action lawsuit in Washington:

  • The class is so numerous that joining all members is impracticable,
  • There are questions of law or fact common to the class,
  • The class representatives’ claims are typical of the claims of the entire class, and
  • The representatives will fairly and adequately protect the interests of the class.

Consult with an experienced attorney regarding additional prerequisites.

*Contact Us Today*Class action lawsuits are typically complex, which is why you should consult with an experienced attorney before joining or filing a class action. Contact one of our personal injury attorneys today for a free consultation if you are interested in pursuing a class action claim or if your personal information was compromised because of a negligent data breach. Our experienced attorneys can help you determine your best course of legal action.

Negligent Pet Care in Washington

Posted Friday, March 9, 2018 by Chris Thayer

Pet owners often regard their furry, feathery, or scaly companions to be members of the family. Under Washington law, pets are considered property. This legal classification can make it difficult for owners seeking compensation for negligently injured or wrongfully killed pets. While Washington allows personal injury lawsuits for damage to personal property and owners can sue when their pets are injured by negligent conduct, pets are not treated the same as humans under the state medical malpractice law.

Animal cruelty, however, is a crime that can be prosecuted in Washington. Conduct that rises to the level of first-degree or second-degree animal cruelty may be evidence of negligence or reckless conduct that pet owners can use in a personal injury lawsuit.

*Pet Negligence and Veterinary Malpractice Cases*In April 2017, a dog owner left her Papillon with a pet sitter for Rover, a Seattle-based pet-sitting company. The dog, one-and-a-half-year-old Snoopy, died while in the pet sitter’s care. The owner recently filed a lawsuit against the company, alleging that the sitter’s negligence caused her dog’s death. Specifically she says that the company did not properly vet its sitters and that her dog died because the sitter did not have adequate fencing, which resulted in Snoopy wandering into the road and getting struck by a car.

While she seems to have a viable claim against the company, whether or not her lawsuit succeeds and what damages she may receive remain to be seen. Unfortunately, in some cases pet owners are not entitled to the same extent of damages as they might receive if the injured or wrongfully killed party was a human.

For example, in September 2012, a pet owner’s veterinarian advised him to take his 12-year-old dog to the Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine’s teaching hospital. There, the owner’s Alaskan Malamute, Kaisa, was diagnosed with metastatic cancer and given months to live. The owner agreed with the WSU vet’s recommendation that Kaisa be put down. But according to the owner, WSU messed up the euthanasia. He filed a lawsuit against the college and the attending veterinarian, alleging that Kaisa was not sedated properly and suffered a painful death.

Both the trial court and the appeals court struck down the owner’s request for emotional distress damages, but Chief Judge George Fearing of Washington’s Division III Court of Appeals wrote a concurring opinion (a concurrence is not binding case law) “to advocate a change in the law.” He wanted the Washington Supreme Court to rule that pets are emotionally valuable and that medical malpractice standards should apply to them. But the state Supreme Court declined to hear the case, which means that Washington’s medical malpractice law still only applies to people.

*Contact Us Today*Contact one of our personal injury attorneys today for a free consultation if your pet was injured or killed because of negligent care or veterinary malpractice. Our experienced attorneys will examine the facts of your case, help determine your best legal options, and help recover the compensation that you deserve.

Defeating a Motion to Dismiss Your Personal Injury or Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Posted Thursday, March 1, 2018 by Chris Thayer

It is important for personal injury and wrongful death plaintiffs to be aware of the legal tools that may be used to defeat their claims. One such tool is the “motion to dismiss.”

What is a Motion to Dismiss?

A motion to dismiss is fairly straightforward. It is a formal request for the court to dismiss, or reject, a lawsuit or a particular claim within a lawsuit.

The litigation process begins once the plaintiff files a complaint and it is served upon the defendant. The defendant then has 20 days to “answer” the complaint, either by filing a formal response or by filing a motion to dismiss.

There are many reasons a court may agree to dismiss a claim or lawsuit. Those reasons include:

  • The court lacks jurisdiction (the legal authority) to make a decision in the case. For example, state courts do not always have the authority to decide questions of federal law.
  • Insufficient process. If there is something wrong with the content of the summons or complaint, then the court may dismiss the case. For example, the summons and complaint must name the right defendant.
  • Insufficient service of process. There are specific rules that must be followed in “serving” the defendant with the summons and complaint. If those rules are not followed, then the defendant may file a motion to dismiss.
  • Failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. This challenges the legal sufficiency of the plaintiff’s complaint. In other words, if you do not have a viable personal injury or wrongful death claim, then the court may dismiss your case.

An experienced attorney can help you defend against a motion to dismiss your personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit.

*Court Rejects Motion to Dismiss Wrongful Death Case Against Seattle*In June 2017, two Seattle police officers shot and killed 30-year-old Charleena Lyles after responding to a 911 call at her apartment. Her family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the officers and the city, alleging that the shooting could have been avoided.

The officers and city filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing that there was no basis for the family’s claims. The court granted the motion in part, but allowed the family’s negligence claim to proceed. This means that the family can continue to argue that the officers’ negligent conduct caused their loved one’s death.

*Filing a Damages Claim Against Seattle*Here are a few things you need to know about filing a lawsuit against the city. The first step is filing an official claim for damages with the City Clerk. The form must be filed within the applicable statute of limitations, which varies depending on the specifics of your claim.

The claimant may also submit supporting evidence, such as receipts and photos. After the City Clerk receives your claim, it will be sent to the Risk Management Office. A claims adjuster will investigate and recommend a resolution. Options include paying the claimant a sum of money, transferring the claim to another entity, or denying the claim altogether.

Claims typically take about 60 days to resolve, but more complicated cases can take longer. If the city denies your claim then litigation might be your next option. An experienced attorney can help determine your best course of action.

*Contact Us Today*Contact one of our personal injury attorneys today for a free consultation if you or a loved one have been injured or killed because of municipal negligence or misconduct. Our experienced attorneys will guide you through the litigation process and help recover the compensation that you deserve, including medical expenses and pain and suffering.