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

Healthcare and Your Personal Injury Claim - Dealing with "Soft Tissue" Sprain/Strain Injuries

Posted Monday, September 12, 2011 by Chris Thayer

One issue that I see frequently in my practice is the “whiplash” victim who suffers from long term neck and back pain. For many people these symptoms resolve over a period of a several months. For a certain percentage, however, the symptoms persist over a long period of time and become chronic. Insurance companies are highly skeptical of these types of claims which they characterize as “soft tissue” - meaning that there are no physiological changes viewable on X-Ray or MRI.

If you have suffered a significant sprain/strain injury to your neck, it is essential to get the proper medical treatment as early possible. As I always tell my clients, I am a lawyer, not a doctors, so don’t take medical advice from me. However, you need to be proactive in managing your care if you have a serious whiplash-type injury that is not resolving. If your symptoms persist beyone a few weeks, it is essential that you consider consulting with a specialist - and not just your primary care physician. Depending on your condition and symptoms, you may want to consider seeking treatment from a Physiatrist (also known as a Rehabilitation Medicine Specialist). These are doctors who are specially trained to treat people with a variet of injuries. Often they will be more familiar with the most effective forms of treatment.

When dealing with a “soft tissue” injury, it is important, like any other medical condition, that you are proactive about doing everything you can to get better. Insurance companies are highly skeptical about these injuries - even though the medical literature is quite clear that their effects can be severe and debilitating. If you have a sprain/strain injury or serious “soft tissue” injury as a result of an accident, you should consider consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney. Even if you decide not to hire an attorney, an initial free consultation may help you avoid getting taken advantage of by the insurance companies.

Healthcare and Your Personal Injury Claim - Wage and Income Loss

Posted Wednesday, August 31, 2011 by Chris Thayer

As as result of injuries suffered in an accident, it is not uncommon for accident victims to miss some time from work. Under Washington law, if suffer wage or income loss as a result of an accident caused by the negligence of another, you have the right to an award of these damages as part of your personal injury claim. However, it is important to keep in mind two things: (1) as the claimant you have the burden of proving that your damages (including wage loss) were the result of the injuries suffered in the accident; and (2) insurance companies are skeptical and are not inclined to compensate accident victims for any wage or income loss without documentation. So what do you do?

If the injuries from an accident make it impossible for you to go to work, that is completely understandable. However, if you want to be able to recover these lost wages you are going to most likely need approval from your physician or healthcare provider. Make sure that your healthcare provider specifically authorizes you to be off of work for a specific time period (two weeks, etc.) and that they document that this is the result of the injuries suffered in the accident. If you do not have documented approval from your healthcare provider (and ideally a physician), most insurance companies are not inclined to pay wage loss claims.

Even if you are self-employed it is possible to recover lost income if you can establish that the income loss was a result of injuries received in the accident. In addition, if you take sick leave from work it is possible to receive compensation for wage loss on your claim, even though you may have received compensation from your employer for the time off. The idea is that if you have to use your sick leave for accident-related injuries, this takes away from you ability to use those sick days for other times when you have an illness. The key to being able to recover any of these damages is clear documentation from your employer and your healthcare providers. This can get rather complicated and it is best to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney if you have questions about how to collect wage or income loss for your personal injury claim.

Healthcare and Your Personal Injury Claim - How Insurance Companies Evaluate your medical treatment records - PART I

Posted Thursday, August 18, 2011 by Chris Thayer

One of the main questions that comes up with my personal injury clients is how do insurance companies evaluate these claims? In most cases the majority of the information that the insurance adjuster will rely on is included in your medical records. They will evaluate the diagnoses you received for your injuries as well as the documented severity, frequency of visits, the type of care received, duration of injury, and whether you have any significant permanent symptoms which may require future treatment.

This blog entry will address frequency of treatment. In my experience, this issue comes up often, as jaded and skeptical insurance adjusters review a claimant’s medical records. Sadly, insurance companies will effectively punish those who try to “tough it out” and avoid going to the doctor. In such cases, the insurance company will conclude that the claimant must not have been injured badly (or they would have gone to the doctor more often). Conversely, if you seek “too much” treatment (a subjective assessment), then insurance companies will argue that you “overtreated” and will not want to pay for the treatment.

Advice? Make sure you are communicating clearly with your treating healthcare providers about your symptoms. Make sure to explain how your symptoms are impacting your life, and whether or not you are experiencing any improvement. You should always follow the advice of your medical provider, however, if you find that the treatment being provided is not helping you get better, you should be proactive about referrals to specialists, getting 2nd opiniond, or trying other modalities to treat your condition.

Unfortunately, there are some conditions which modern medicine cannot cure and chronic pain can set in. In such situations, it is easy to fall into a pattern where you seek treatment that helps you “get through” the day, but does not help cure the underyling problem. In such challenging situations it is all the more important to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney who can help guide you through the claims process. The internet is too public of a forum to discuss all issues related to insurance claims.

If you have questions, you should contact me for a free initial consultation to discuss your matter privately and confidentially.

Seattle Area Incidents

Posted Tuesday, August 16, 2011 by Chris Thayer

A nice feature offered by the Washington State Department of Transportation offers up to date information on blocking accidents, construction and special events that affect traffic in the greater Seattle area. As all of us who live and commute around here can attest, knowing the condition of the roads and information about special events that can clog up traffic can be essential.

WSDOT Traffic Conditions in Seattle

Social Media and Your Personal Injury Case

Posted Monday, August 15, 2011 by Chris Thayer

An increasing number of people, young and old, have a Facebook page these days, or spend time on Twitter. Facebook and Twitter have revolutionized the way that many people interact, share information and communicate. Whenever I meet with a new personal injury client, one of the first things we discuss is how to deal with such so-called “social media” and the impacts that it can have on your personal injury claim. Keep in mind that the most important advice is also the most obvious: be honest.

As my first blog entry on this site, I thought I would summarize the advice that I give all of my personal injury clients on this issue.

  1. Adjust all privacy settings. Adust all privacy settings on all social networks such that no information is shared with the general public.

  2. Not everyone on your “friend” list on Facebook is necessarily your friend. It is common for people to accept a “friend request” on Facebook from people that they barely know. Old high school or college classmates or people that you just met briefly at a social engagement. You may not know what these people do for a living or how they really feel about you. Many of them would not be considered your real friend by any previous standard definition of the word. Some of them may work for insurance companies, or be friends with someone who does. Some of them may hold a grudge against you, even though they are your “friend” on Facebook or other social networking site. You don’t need to be paranoid, but you do need to be mindful and cautious.

  3. Consider deleting old blog posts and status updates. Especially with younger generations, personal information is posted on social media sites without much thought as to who might see it or review it. To the extent any of this information is acessible to the public, it is possible that it will be used against you by the insurance company. Keep in mind that insurance companies may scrutinize this information and view it from a different perspective. A Twitter post that is intended as a joke or a sarcastic comment about some current event or political issue, might be used by the insurance company to attack your credibility or character. Remember, insurance companies will want to pay you as little as possible for your claim - and if they can take a Facebook post, comment or Blog entry out of context, they will.

  4. A photograph really does tell a thousand words. People post photographs on their Facebook profile frequently. As a way to stay in touch and share a part of their lives, it has created a new form of socializing and sharing information with our “friends”. Your Facebook friends can also “tag” you in a photo. Keep in mind that a picture of you smiling and having a good time at a barbeque will be seen from an entirely different perspective by the insurance adjuster. The insurance adjuster is trying to minimize the amount the insurance company is going to pay on your claim. It is wise to monitor the photos of you that are posted on Facebook or other social media sites. This is not about hiding information, it is about preventing an insurance adjuster from taking an isolated photo of you out of context.

  5. If a lawsuit is filed, everything you write or have written and posted on the internet may end up being disclosed to the insurance company. Blog entries, Twitter posts, Facebook status updates and other comments, once posted on the internet, may end up being reviewed by an insurance adjuster - no matter what your privacy settings are. Once a lawsuit is filed on your personal injury claim, it is becoming increasingly common for insurance companies to seek court orders compelling production of online social medial information.

  6. Tone and humor can be misconstrued. The informal tone frequently used on Facebook posts or Twitter “tweets” is not the same language you would use if you were having your deposition taken or being interviewed by an insurance adjuster. As such, it is easy for such comments to be taken out of context or misinterpreted. You can be certain that the insurance companies will be trying to access as much information on you that they can find on the internet - in an effort to minimize the amount paid on your personal injury claim.

If you have a serious personal injury claim, you should contact an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss these issues in more detail and to discuss how to minimize the risks. It is important that you consult with an attorney early on in the process so that you can learn how to protect your rights and fight back.