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

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.

Will a Structured Settlement Be Right for You?

Posted Thursday, April 28, 2016 by Chris Thayer

When a personal injury claimant wins or settles their case, they often have the choice of whether to accept one lump sum payment or a series of payment over time. This series of payments over time is referred to as a structured settlement.
Whether you should accept a structured settlement depends on many factors including your financial needs, tax situation, your expenses, and your ability to manage money. There is no right or wrong answer. It really depends on your needs and a structured settlement is your decision to make. A skilled Seattle injury settlement lawyer can advise you.

How a Structured Settlement Works

If you agree to accept a structured settlement, you will receive monetary payments over a specific period of time. For example, if you receive a $500,000 settlement award, you could receive $50,000 per year for a period of ten years payable on a specified date, such as every July 1 for ten years.
You also have the option to design your structured settlement so that it provides money to you when you need it. These are some of the options that you have with a structured settlement.• Large lump sum payments with smaller supplemental payments. For example, if you were out of work for a long period of time and have bills to pay, mortgage payments, or an aging car that needs to be replaced, it may be advisable to take a larger amount of your settlement up front to pay those bills and accept smaller payments over time.• Small payments increasing over time. You can also opt to receive smaller payments up front with larger payments increasing in time.• Large payments decreasing in time. Conversely, you have the option to receive larger payments at first and have them decrease in time.• Payments for extraordinary expenses. If you anticipate extraordinary expenses such as tuition or a mortgage loan pay off in the future, it might make sense to receive larger settlement payments later on.• Delayed payments. If you have no need for cash right away, your payments can be paid out in the future on a designated date.• Structured settlement as an annuity. With an annuity, the defendant transfers its obligation to an insurance company who can manage payments over time. Some experts argue that this is a more stable financial option than betting on the defendant’s continued financial health.

Is a Structured Settlement Right for You?

The decision as to whether to accept a structured settlement is yours. Your attorney can help lay out the options, but you also hear from a financial expert. Consider:• Tax consequences. Your structured settlement and how you receive it could be taxable depending on how the settlement is structured, what the settlement represents (for example, compensatory as opposed to punitive damages), and state and federal laws. • How will you use your settlement money? How you design a structured settlement depends on what you need the money for, and when you need it. For example, if you need the money right away to pay bills, make mortgage payments or to pay other expenses, it might make sense to accept a larger sum up front with smaller structured payments. On the other hand, you may not have a need for any cash right away and it might make sense to receive payments over time• Think about your emotional health. Do not let your grief or trauma adversely affect your financial decisions. Think about your future financial needs such as medical expenses, a down payment on a house, tuition, retirement or additional income and what other expenses you may have in the future.• Whether you have the financial management skills to manage your money. Not everyone is used to managing their own money. Think carefully about whether your financial skills are such that you can handle a large lump sum payment or whether you need assistance managing your money so that you can make informed decisions.• Whether you are likely to spend the money right away or make high-risk investments. Many people fall financial victim to scams, risky investments, and other unwise money moves. Be honest with yourself about your spending habits when deciding how to structure settlement payments.• Will you have other financial pressures on you? For example, do you anticipate being pressured by friends, family, or strangers to loan them money or give them handouts. This should factor into your decision how to design a structured settlement. • Do you have the right financial guidance? Professionals such as a financial advisor, accountant, trustee, or attorney can help guide you as to investments and other financial decisions.

Before You Enter Into a Structured Settlement

Whether to use a structured settlement is an important financial decision. These are some tips to consider before you sign:• Have a good understanding of what your financial needs will be in the future.• Be realistic about your money management skills.• Think about what kind of life you want to have and how your financial settlement will fit into that picture.• Consider your options before deciding.
• Choose a reputable and well-established insurance or financial company. This is not a time to go with a new company. Review the payor’s financial health.• Consult with an accountant or other financial advisor beforehand.• Sleep on it.

Seattle injury settlement lawyer Chris Thayer can help you evaluate your case as well as its eventual settlement option. 206-340-2008.

What Evidence Will Be Persuasive and How Do I Obtain It?

Posted Thursday, April 21, 2016 by Chris Thayer

Obtaining persuasive evidence is important to a successful resolution of your personal injury case. With evidence, you can prove your claims. Without it, you cannot. As a personal injury claimant, you should speak with your Seattle injury lawyer about the specifics of your case and what you can do to help gather evidence. Your attorney will have a game plan and can give you guidance.Several types of evidence can help you in your personal injury case:• Demonstrative evidence. This is physical proof that generally has the form of representing an object. Some examples are photographs, diagrams, graphs, charts, or any other physical items that tend to show or depict proof of an object or a fact. For example, if you were injured in an auto accident, a diagram could be used to depict the scene of the accident.• Physical evidence. This is any type of proof introduced in the form of a physical object, whether in whole or in part. Examples are a footprint, a toy, a vehicle, or hair.• Documentary evidence. This is evidence that takes an actual documentary form and can be presented in writing. Examples include reports, statements, policies, bills, contracts, and wills.• Digital evidence. This is proof obtained from any electronic source. Examples include phone or computer data, emails, hard drives, instant message logs, and any form of electronic communication. • Exculpatory evidence. This is the so-called ‘smoking gun’ proof which is usually used in criminal cases but it can be applicable in personal injury cases. This would include any fact or thing that would prove guilt, innocence, or liability. Examples include a confession, a photograph, or a statement.• Testimony. This includes actual direct testimony from a sworn witness whether it be in court, at a proceeding or at a deposition. Statements such as reports, utterances, phone messages, depositions, and text messages can be used to impeach a witness.• Scientific evidence. This would be proof that conforms to the standards of the scientific community or another recognized field of expertise. Examples would be verifying DNA, metal, auto parts, or how a toy or mechanism functions. For example, if you were in an auto accident and the air bag did not deploy, scientific evidence could be used to prove that the air bag did not function properly. Or, if a driver of a vehicle was driving too fast and caused an accident, scientific evidence could be used to prove the rate of speed that driver was travelling when the accident occurred.

What evidence will be persuasive?

What constitutes evidence in your case depends on the facts and claims of your case. When gathering evidence, it is essential that you do so with your attorney’s leadership. This is true for several reasons:• Your attorney is your guide. Many litigants have not had any experience with the personal injury process. The facts which gave rise to their injury, such as an accident, may be their first experience. Or they are dealing with grief and trauma and may not know what to expect from the process. An attorney experienced in handling personal injury cases will keep you informed of the developments in your case, give you guidance, and reassure you as appropriate.• Ensure the admissibility of evidence. As your case proceeds, it is important that your evidence is authenticated according to the rules of evidence. For example, if you have a text message or a photo which could help your case, it is important that you preserve that evidence according to evidence laws. Your attorney can advise you how to do this.• Help you understand what is relevant to your case. What you think is a winning hand or piece of evidence may not be very relevant to your case. Conversely, a fact or piece of evidence which you did not think was important could turn out to be the evidence that persuades a judge or jury to rule in your favor or an insurance company or defendant to offer you a favorable settlement.
• Preserve the chain of custody of evidence. Preserving the chain of custody refers to preserving evidence in its original state to prove that it came from a specified source. For example, if you have computer or phone data, you would want to ensure that it can be proven that the evidence came from your phone or computer. Your attorney can instruct you or an expert how to preserve all evidence to ensure that it is admissible in a proceeding.
• Advise you how to approach a witness. It is important that you approach a witness in an appropriate way so as to ensure their cooperation. If witness interviews are done correctly, for example, a witness may be more likely to volunteer information that could help your case. Whereas a witness who is scared or feels backed into a corner may tend to clam up or forget important facts.• Make the best use of experts. A good expert can make the difference between winning and losing your case or obtaining a more favorable settlement. Experts have years of professional experience and can have credibility with the opposing party and the court. Your attorney may have a game plan, relationships with experts, and the expertise necessary to hire and use experts which can result in a favorable outcome in your case.

In his evaluation of your case, Seattle injury lawyer Chris Thayer will outline for you the evidence that will help obtain a successful outcome. 206-340-2008.

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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