Chris Thayer Seattle Personal Injury Attorney
(206) 340-2008
Seattle Personal Injury Attorney Chris Thayer
Handling Personal Injury Claims in the Seattle Area and Throughout Washington Since 1995

Hello, and thank you for visiting my website. 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. I have developed this website to provide information about me, the services my law firm provides, and to give the consumer some basic background information and resources relating to personal injury claims in Washington state.

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The Seattle Personal Injury Blog

Proving Your Product Liability Claim | Chris Thayer

Posted Thursday, July 28, 2016 by Chris Thayer

When you buy a product, you have a reasonable expectation that it is reasonably safe for its intended use. This is not always the case. Periodically, consumers buy products that are defective or contain defective parts. When that product does not function properly, injuries can occur. If you are injured as a result of a dangerous or defective product, you may have a right to monetary recovery. A Seattle product liability attorney understands that your injuries resulting from an accident could have been caused by a multitude of factors, and not just from one person’s negligence but also from a defect that existed in the product you were using.

**Types of Product Liability

These are some of the ways in which a products liability claim can come about.

  • A manufacturing defect. This is the kind of defect that relates only to the specific product sold to you. For example, something went wrong when the product was being made, and the defect only affected that product or a few products. An example would be a tire or a medical device that was improperly made.
  • A design defect. This refers to something inherently dangerous in the design of the entire product line that makes every product sold unreasonably dangerous for the intended use. An example would be a vehicle part or an electronic device either of which has a design flaw that makes the product unsafe or hazardous.
  • The defendant fails to warn the purchaser or the consumer about the less than obvious risks posed by the product. As an example, the defendant sells an over-the-counter medication and fails to warn the consumer about potential health risks or to give instructions as to the proper dosage.

**Who May Be Liable For A Defective Product

Essentially, any party in the chain of the design, production, distribution and sale of the defective product is a potential defendant. This is particularly true in strict liability claim. The list of potential defendants includes the following parties:

  • The manufacturer. These are the most obvious defendants since they created the product.
  • The distributor. These are the parties who are responsible for actually putting the product on the market.
  • The retailer. These are the defendants who actually sell you the product.Theories Of Law To File A Product Liability Claim

If you are injured as a result of a dangerous or a defective product, you may have several legal theories available to sue upon. You do not have to guess or choose the best one at the beginning of your case. These are the legal theories a Seattle product liability attorney would consider

**Strict liability

In order to prevail on a strict liability claim, you do not have to prove that the defendant did anything wrong. You need only prove that:

  • The product was sold in an unreasonably dangerous condition or with an inadequate or no warning regarding the dangers inherent to the product;
  • The seller expected and intended that the product would reach the consumer without changes to the product; and
  • You or your property was injured by the defective product.

Once all three elements are proven, the defendant has the burden to avail itself of liability. One way is to prove that the defendant did not cause the injury and/or another defendant is liable for the defect causing injury. For example, if a manufacturing company placed a vehicle tire on the market and knew that tire was not suitable for highway driving and the tire exploded on the your car, then the defendant manufacturer would be liable. You can reasonably expect to recover the full array of damages which includes actual and future medical costs, lost wages and earning capacity, and pain and suffering. However, if the accident was caused by a driver who ran a red light and the defective tire did not explode or contribute to the accident or your injuries, then the manufacturing company would not be held liable for your injuries.

**Negligence

Negligence, to some extent, has been replaced by strict liability since strict liability is easier to prove. To prove a negligence claim, you must establish that:

  • The defendant owed you a duty of care (i.e., making or selling a product that is free from defects or undisclosed risks);
  • The defendant breached that duty of care to you;
  • You were injured as a result of the defendant’s negligence; and
  • You suffered actual injuries.

Using the same tire example, if the defendant manufacturer placed a tire that it knew was unsafe on the market, then you would have a strong negligence claim against the manufacturer. If you succeed in your claim, then you can expect to recover the full array of damages.

**Breach of warranty

To prevail based on breach of warranty, you must prove that:

  • An express or implied warranty applied to the product; and
  • The product did not meet the terms of the warranty.

Using the same vehicle tire example, the manufacturer puts the tire on the market knowing that it is not up to safety standards for highway driving and the vehicle tire comes with a warranty. You would also have a strong case for breach of warranty. However, damages would be limited to what are referred to as concrete damages that would include, for example, property damages and medical bills.

**Fraud

To succeed in a fraud claim, you must prove that the defendant

  • Made representations to you that the defendant knew were untrue in an intent to get you to purchase a product; and,
  • You justifiably relied upon the defendant’s representations and were injured as a result.

For example, you purchased the defective tire from the distributor, who has knowledge that the tire may be unsafe. During the sale, the defendant distributor (seller) repeatedly tells you that the tire is suitable for all purposes and issues you a guarantee. In reliance upon defendant’s representations, you purchased the tire, the tire explodes while you are driving and you are injured. You would likely have a strong case against the distributor based on fraud and can reasonably expect to recover all damages available in a personal injury case as well as punitive damages.

Tactics Employed To Weaken Washington Auto Accident Claim

Posted Monday, July 11, 2016 by Chris Thayer

Insurance companies play a big part in any personal injury lawsuit. Whether you are injured in an auto accident or sued as a result of an auto accident, you can reasonably expect to deal with an insurance adjuster or an insurance company’s attorneys when negotiating a settlement. It is not unusual that an insurance company or the opposing party will assert defenses to your claim to avoid liability or try to lessen the amount of any payout. Understanding the defendant’s arguments is essentially in developing a strong case. Knowing your case’s weaknesses is advantageous because your attorney can spin those weaknesses in a favorable light.

Two Categories of Defenses

Defenses to an insurance claim or lawsuit generally fall into two categories: legal and factual. Legal defenses refer to a situation in which a claim is prohibited because of a law or rule. Factual defenses depend on the facts of the case, the degree of fault by the parties, and whether the injured party took action to lessen the effects of the damages from an auto accident.

Common Legal Defenses In A Washington Auto Accident Claim

  • Expiration of the Statute of Limitations. This refers to the time period in which a case can be filed. Simply put, if you wait too long to file a claim or a lawsuit, you will not have a case. Your claim is extinguished and non-existent. The Washington Revised Code §4.16.080(2) provides that the statute of limitations to file personal injury claims in Washington is three years from the date of injury. For auto accident claims, the date of injury generally coincides with the date of the accident. Thus, if you file your auto accident claim three years and a day after the date of your auto accident, your claim is barred unless there are special circumstances.

  • Plaintiff’s claim is barred by law. The law does prohibit a plaintiff from bringing a lawsuit in some situations. For example, if the plaintiff was driving while above the legal blood alcohol limit at the time of the accident, the plaintiff’s claim may be barred by law.

  • Contractual defenses. Contractual defenses refer to the terms of the parties’ insurance policies. For example, if a party’s insurance policy states that an act of God (such as a natural disaster) will not give rise to a legal claim, and if the plaintiff’s claim is based on such facts then the plaintiff would not have a case.

    • Illegal acts of the plaintiff. The illegal acts of a plaintiff can be both a legal and factual defense to an otherwise valid legal claim. Some examples would be plaintiff was driving while intoxicated or was an unlicensed driver.

Common Factual Defenses In A Washington Auto Accident Claim

The facts of your case determine how your case will be handled.

Plaintiff was Negligent:This refers to the degree of fault by both parties in an auto accident case. It is often the case in car accidents that both parties bear some responsibility for the accident and any fault or monetary award is apportioned between the parties. Pursuant to Washington RWC §4.22.005, you are entitled to recover your damages less the proportion of your fault. For example, the jury finds you are 60% at fault and awards you $100,000 for your injuries and loss. Your award is reduced by 60% so your take home award will be $40,000.

Intervening Act:This refers to a situation where there is another act that actually (1) causes the accident that was neither the fault of the plaintiff or the defendant, or (2) causes or worsens the plaintiff’s injuries. An example would be if a truck topples over on the freeway due to the truck driver’s negligence. The defendant swerves to avoid hitting the truck and runs into the plaintiff’s car. Metal from the toppled truck hits both the plaintiff and the defendant’s cars and causes the actual injuries to both parties. In this situation, defendant’s liability for plaintiff’s injuries could be either zero or significantly reduced since the truck driver’s negligence was the main cause for the accident.

Superseding Act: This refers to an unforeseeable situation that occurs after an auto accident whereby the superseding act causes most or all of the damage to plaintiff. For example, defendant is driving on a residential street, changes lanes too fast and bumps plaintiff’s car. Plaintiff and defendant pull over to exchange insurance information. A few minutes later, a third car runs a stop sign and side swipes plaintiff’s legally parked car causing damage to plaintiff’s car and both the plaintiff and defendant. In this situation, the third party’s act likely caused most or all of the damage and the defendant would likely have less or no liability.

Plaintiff failed to mitigate damages: Every injured party has a duty to lessen any damages incurred as a result of an auto accident if they can. If an injured party fails to do so, that could be a valid defense to a legal claim. For example, plaintiff and defendant are both driving. Defendant’s car hits plaintiff’s car, breaks a window, and cracks the plaintiff’s windshield. The parties both pull over to exchange insurance information and there are visible cuts on plaintiff’s hands from the broken glass. Plaintiff does not seek medical attention and those cuts become so infected that plaintiff’s hand is permanently damaged. In this example, it would be difficult for plaintiff to recover the full amount of any physical damages since plaintiff could have sought medical attention but failed to do so, thus worsening plaintiff’s injuries. The defendant would have little or no liability if the plaintiff’s injuries were attributed to the plaintiff’s failure to act.

Overview Of Personal Injury Lawsuits In Washington

Posted Wednesday, June 29, 2016 by Chris Thayer

If you are injured due to the negligence of someone else, you have the right to seek compensation for your injuries. Your medical bills, loss of income, as well as pain and suffering are all elements for which you may be compensated.

What Constitutes A Personal Injury Claim?

Personal injury cases can arise in a number of different situations where there is an injury caused by an accident or harm. Automobile accidents are a common source of personal injury. However, injuries can occur due to product defects. Also, you may suffer a personal injury when a landowner fails to maintain his property in the proper fashion. If you are bitten by someone’s dog, you may be entitled to compensation. You may also be entitled to compensation if you were harmed due to exposure to toxins through a person’s inattention and negligence. These are a few examples of how people suffer personal injuries and may have a case against the party that hurt them. Many more exist.

A cause for a lawsuit arises when a person has a legal duty of care and fails in that duty. As a result of that person’s failure to exercise due care, another person is injured. Suppose Joe is speeding down the road in his car and fails to stop at a traffic signal when the light is red. He hits a car that is driven by Inez. Because of the accident, Inez suffers a back injury and is temporarily paralyzed. In this case, Joe had a legal duty to drive his car in a safe and prudent manner. When Joe failed to stop at the red light, he failed to operate his car in a proper manner and breached his duty of care. As a result of running the red light, Joe’s car crashed into Inez’s car, which caused her injuries. Therefore, Joe is liable and has to pay for injuring Inez.

A personal injury case is a civil action. The purpose of a civil action is to resolve disputes between parties. In a personal injury case, you can sue the person or company that caused your injury. Often the cases do not go to trial, but are resolved through mediation and negotiations. Possibly, the party that injured you will make a settlement offer. Be careful if they do offer a settlement. Make sure you consult with an attorney before you accept or sign anything.

Attorneys Are Important At Trial And Negotiations

An attorney can strengthen your hand in negotiations by collecting evidence, examining police reports when they are available, and interviewing witnesses. The process is important because if you go to trial, preparation is key. Most cases do not go to trial but are ended in negotiations. If you negotiate a settlement, an experienced Washington personal injury attorney can review the case to be sure you are receiving a fair settlement. Also, an attorney will collect and preserve the evidence that is needed to prove your claim.

The Importance Of The Timing Of Lawsuits

The timing of a lawsuit is important. Personal injury lawsuits in Washington must be brought within three years of the date of the injury. However, if the injury occurred while you were under a disability that prevented you from filing an action within three years or you were less than eighteen years of age when the injury occurred, consult an attorney to determine whether your case can still be filed. If possible, consult an attorney immediately after the injury.

You also should know the full extent of your losses before you file a suit or reach an agreement with the party that injured you. Be certain to take a hard look at all of your losses. For example, if you provide services in the home for your family, you may need to hire someone to help you. Who will run the errands, take care of your small child, and take care of other essential responsibilities? You may recover for the added cost of hiring someone to help you with the services you could no longer due, whether permanently or temporarily.

Once a verdict is returned and no appeal is filed or an agreement is reached prior to trial; that is the end of the case. Consequently, if you later discover additional losses or need more medical care because of the injury, you cannot file an additional suit. Therefore, review losses and expected losses closely with your attorney.

Compensatory Damages

Compensatory damages are monetary awards to compensate you for damages, which include economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages include losses that can be measured in money. For example, medical bills, loss of income, and nursing care can be counted and documented. Future medical expenses can also be anticipated and estimated. Pain and suffering is also recoverable but is considered a non-economic damage. Placing a dollar amount on pain and suffering is not objective compared to medical expenses and loss of income. Different approaches are used to calculate the amount. Thus, non-economic damages are intangible harms and, aside from pain and suffering, include emotional distress and loss of consortium.

Comparative Negligence Affects Your Compensatory Damages

Some factors can prevent an injured party from receiving compensation for their full losses. Washington is a pure comparative negligence state. In comparative negligence, a percentage of fault can be assigned to the injured party. When a percentage of fault is assigned, the compensation is reduced by the same percentage. Suppose the jury determines the injured party had losses of $100,000, but was 10% at fault for the accident, then the award would be reduced by 10%. So, instead of collecting $100,000, the injured party would receive $90,000.

How To Determine Your Injuries And Recoverable Damages From An Auto Accident In Seattle

Posted Wednesday, June 15, 2016 by Chris Thayer

Injuries in an auto accident run the gamut from bruises and sprains to more serious, longer lasting injuries. If you are injured in an auto accident in Seattle, it is important that you seek medical attention immediately to ascertain the nature and extent of your injuries. You may be able to seek compensation from the at-fault party to the accident for your injuries.

Types Of Injuries

Essentially, if you are in an auto accident, any part of your body could be injured. Some common auto accident injuries are listed below:

Minor injuries. This refers to situations where you are in an auto accident but not seriously injured. Some examples would be bruises, cuts, sprains that are not long lasting.

Major injuries. This refers to any major, long lasting injury. Some examples are punctures to arteries or organs, infections, injuries that require surgery, and head injuries. An example would be if you break your leg in a car accident. The injury is close to an artery and the broken bone injures a vein or an artery causing more serious damage.

Whiplash. Whiplash is a common term that refers to the injury as a result of the abrupt back and forth flexion of the neck.

Scarring and disfigurement. This refers to any injury which produces a scar or results in disfigurement. Some examples would be burns or cuts, called lacerations, from going through a windshield.

Soft tissue injuries. Soft issue injuries are harder to discern and often result from the jarring or abrupt motion caused by an auto accident. Some examples are neck injuries and back injuries. While a bone may not be broken or there is no visible blood after an accident, soft tissue injuries can cause a lot of pain and discomfort.

Broken bones. Broken bones are usually clear. If you have a broken bone as a result of an auto accident, the question then becomes the nature and extent of the injury. For example, if you break your arm, the arm may heal nicely. On the other hand, if you fracture your arm in several places and lose some of the use of your arm as a result, your compensation could be considerably greater.

Back and neck injuries. This refers to any damage or injury to your neck or back. Some examples include whiplash, neck strain, or any damage to your vertebrae.

Head injuries. This refers to any situation in which your head is struck or otherwise injured as a result of an auto accident. Some examples would be a concussion or memory loss from your head injury.

Loss of use or mobility. This refers to a situation in which you lose the use of or mobility in part of your body. An example would be the loss of use of an arm.

Exacerbated condition. This refers to a situation in which you have a pre-existing condition that is worsened by an auto accident. An example would be a heart condition or a circulatory problem that is exacerbated by an accident.

Complications injuries. Injuries from an auto accident are not always predictable. For example, if you are injured in an auto accident, have surgery, and that surgery results in a heart attack or arterial damage this could be considered a complication as a result of the auto accident.

Wrongful death. If a person you care about dies in an auto accident, then the deceased person’s estate or family may have a wrongful death claim against the at-fault party.

Type Of Damages

You could receive monetary compensation for your economic and non-economic damages resulting from your injuries in your auto accident in Seattle. “Damages” refers to the amount of money that you may be awarded for your injuries and expenses arising from your injuries. This may include the following:

Economic Damages: compensation for your calculable losses

Medical expenses. This includes any expenses incurred as a result of medical care or treatment for your injuries. Some examples include cost of medical treatment, emergency room visits, and EMT costs as well as the cost of any future medical treatment.

Out of pocket costs. This would include costs such as vehicle repair, property damages, and any damages related to the auto accident for which you were required to pay for the cost of repair or incur additional expenses that would not have happened but for the auto accident. This also includes any prescription and non-prescription medications to treat your injuries.

Lost wages and earning capacity. This refers to any lost earnings as a result of your injuries. Some examples would be monies for time off work and impairment to future earnings and your earning capacity.

Wrongful death. Damages include health care and funeral expenses, loss of net earnings accumulations, pre-death pain and suffering, and pre-death fear of death.

Non-Economic Damages: compensation for your non-pecuniary or intangible harms that is not readily calculable.

Loss of consortium. This refers to damages to pain and suffering injuries for a spouse or a family member as a result of a person who has been injured or killed, including loss of companionship, advise, or support. A spouse may also claim a loss or decrease of intimacy.

Loss of quality of life. This refers to compensation for any loss of enjoyment of life due to your personal injuries.

Pain and suffering. These refer to your physical pain and discomfort along with your emotional injuries such as grief, anxiety, insomnia and other related emotional injuries caused by the auto accident.

Emotional distress. This refers to provable emotional damages resulting from the accident.

What You Should Do After An Auto Accident In Seattle

To ensure that you receive the medical care that you need and the compensation that you deserve after an auto accident in Seattle, here are some things you may do:

Get medical attention right away. This includes at the scene medical treatment and from your treating physician.

Be sure to document your injuries with journals, medical records, and police reports.

Pay attention to any pain or discomfort that you experience after the accident. Injuries are not always apparent right away after an accident.

If you are medically cleared and are still experiencing discomfort or pain, get a second medical opinion.

Document all expenses incurred as a result of the auto accident. This would include transportation expenses, costs of repair, time off work, and medical bills.

Elements of a Seattle Personal Injury Claim

Posted Thursday, May 19, 2016 by Chris Thayer

If you have been injured in a car or other type of accident, it may seem as if things are spiraling out of control. Insurance companies may be contacting you, family and friends are giving you advice, and you are not sure where to turn. During this confusing time, you may be wondering whether you have a valid Seattle personal injury claim. To succeed with a claim, four elements must be proved:

The person who wronged you owed you a certain DUTY of care.

We all have certain duties we owe to other people, even to people we do not know. For example, we as drivers have a duty to navigate roads safely and ensure others are not harmed. In some circumstances, the duty arises out of a special relationship, like the relationship between a doctor and a patient. There are many situations where a duty is created. An experienced attorney can help you determine if you were owed a duty of care by the person who harmed you.

The duty to which you were owed was BREACHED by this person.

A breach of duty means that the person deviated from the behavior expected in the situation. It can manifest itself as driving in an unsafe manner or engaging in some dangerous activity without regard to others. The person must have gone outside what a reasonable person would do to protect or prevent harm to others. This standard varies across each type of injury claim.

The breach of that duty is what CAUSED you to be injured.

The breach of the duty owed to you must have proximately caused your injuries. In other words, the harm to you would not have occurred without the action or inaction of the other person. Also, a reasonable person should have been able to foresee the consequences of his or her behavior. The action or inaction must be related to the injury.

You have suffered DAMAGES as a result of the breach of duty.

The concept of damages all comes down to money. It may manifest itself in the form of lost wages, hospital and other medical bills, cost of repair to property, or any other variation. You must have lost something valuable in order to be successful in your claim.

Every set of circumstances is unique, and there are variations to the requirements of proof you must meet in order to be successful with various types of claims. While it may seem like common sense that someone should have acted in a specific way not to harm you, what is required for actual compensation against that someone is usually more complicated. This does not mean you don’t have a valid Seattle personal injury claim. It simply means that you should speak with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible if you believe your injury was caused by the negligence of another.

Chris Thayer Seattle Personal Injury Attorney

For more information, or to schedule an initial, no obligation consultation and case evaluation, please call Chris Thayer at (206) 340-2008 or complete the contact form below:

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