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

Five Common Medical Mistakes You Should Know Before You Go to the Hospital

Posted Friday, September 18, 2020 by Chris Thayer

Alternative TextAccording to CNBC, citing a Johns Hopkins study from just a couple years ago, medical errors are actually the third-leading cause of death in the U.S. When medical malpractice attorneys remind people of this staggering fact, many are simply unaware, but it is remarkable how many Americans suffer not only death, but also serious and permanent injuries due to careless or even reckless healthcare providers. At Pivotal Law Group, we are passionate about pursuing justice for clients. Before going into a hospital or other health facility, every Washingtonian should be aware of these five common medical mistakes that claim many lives annually.

*Wrong Site Procedures* Whether it is the amputation of a wrong body part or having surgery on the wrong part of your anatomy, there are little more infuriating mistakes that can be made. In the medical community, basic standards of practice should entirely prevent this from even being possible, so long as people stick to the protocol. When a doctor or other professional deviates from that standard and causes unnecessary harm, it is serious.

*Medication Errors* According to the peer-reviewed research journal, Drug Safety, about 30% of all medication errors in hospitals are preventable. While not all medication errors result in harm, when they do it can be devastating. In fact, for those who are high-risk or dealing with other medical conditions, a medication error can be lethal.

*Failure to Diagnose or Treat* This may also be lumped in with other medical errors, but the failure to properly perform a differential diagnosis in order to rule out conditions and make an accurate diagnosis early on in the treatment of a patient can lead to serious or even fatal consequences. Medical professionals have procedures to follow when diagnosing potential causes of symptoms. When physicians or other professionals fail to follow these procedures, they can miss serious health issues, such as cancer.

*Surgical Tools Left Behind* Maybe the most obvious and indefensible category of medical negligence is when sponges, utensils, and other foreign objects are left behind in a patient’s body following surgery. This can have catastrophic effects on a patient’s life, and it can lead to pain and agony for months or even years before being detected. Put simply, there is no other explanation for a utensil being left behind except for negligence.

*Incorrect Treatments* Beyond the obvious problems, simply making a diagnosis is not enough. A health profession must adhere to the relevant standards of practice for his or her field of expertise. When professionals fail to do so, they often end up providing incorrect or ineffective treatment options for their patients. This can lead to delays in proper treatment and even cause serious and permanent injury or death.

If you or a loved one are dealing with the painful effects of medical negligence in Washington State, contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney who can help you make sense of the mistakes and possibly give you and your family justice and peace of mind going forward.

Drowning Deaths in Puget Sound Often the Result of Negligence

Posted Friday, September 11, 2020 by Chris Thayer

Alternative TextAccording to a 2017 Seattle Times report, Washington averages around 100 drowning deaths a year. That is a statewide number. In 2016, the number bumped all the way to 180, with many of the victims being strong swimmers and avid boaters. So, what causes drowning deaths in Mercer Island and the greater Puget Sound area? Sometimes, it is actually negligence. While not all injuries and drowning deaths are the result of someone else’s carelessness, it is usually worth speaking to an experienced Seattle injury lawyer as soon as possible to find out your options.

**Types of Drownings and Water Injuries in Puget Sound


**There are a lot of ways to get hurt when engaging in recreational activities in Puget Sound. The water often remains just above freezing for most of the year. In fact, as reported by the Seattle Times, one Sheriff explained that the water simply does not get much warmer in the summer. People, especially tourists, often disregard or underestimate the dangers of icy cold waterways. Here are a few ways people can run into problems on the water.

  • Boat capsize – You cannot stay awake and tread water for long if you go into hypothermia.
  • Head injuries – Like any water injury, if you are thrown from a vessel and strike your head, you cannot swim to safety.
  • Poor planning – People often love the idea of a relaxing kayak trip on the Sound, until they are caught in freezing rain or the temperature drops rapidly. This can lead a person to be stranded without the proper gear on open waters.

*The Role Companies and Others May Play in Injuries* It may be odd to think of suffering an injury on the water and blaming it on someone else. However, there are distinct situations in which someone else’s careless or even greedy actions can lead to tragic consequences. Consider these examples.

  • A kayak rental shop sends someone out on the water in a defective kayak or one with a crack in the hull or even an active leak.
  • A child’s life vest is unserviceable, meaning it does not keep the child above water in the event of being knocked unconscious.
  • A drunk boater strikes a paddle boarded or kayaker, causing a capsize.
  • A Jet ski owner allows an intoxicated person to operate it.

In each of the above hypotheticals, you can easily see where someone has acted carelessly and put someone else’s life in danger. When things like this happen, serious or fatal injuries can and do occur. You can usually bet that an insurance company will refuse to pay on these types of claims. You will need to have an aggressive and knowledgeable team of injury attorneys on your side just to stand up to the insurance company. Whether it is a drowning or serious injury, if you or someone close to you has been hurt on the water in the Seattle, Mercer Island, or greater Puget Sound area, you need to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer right away. Call the Pivotal Law Group today for a free conversation about your rights. But act fast, there are statutory time limits on pursuing justice. If you wait too long, you could forever lose your rights.

Fire-Related Injuries in Seattle

Posted Friday, September 4, 2020 by Chris Thayer

Alternative TextAs wildfires rage across California and parts of Oregon, the Seattle Times reports that smokey conditions continue to increase across the region, and even parts of Seattle have become engulfed in smoke and soot. Every year, the rate of deaths caused by fires (both wildfires and structural) amounts to about 9.5 people per 1 million residents. While this may seem like a small number, it is important to note that these are just deaths, as reported by the State’s Office of the Fire Marshall. Many others are injured, burned, or suffer serious respiratory injuries from preventable blazes.

*Negligence and Fire-Related Injuries* When people think of personal injury claims, they typically think of car accidents and slip and fall injuries. These are, of course, some of the most common ways that Americans can get hurt by someone else’s careless conduct. However, as wildfires are becoming more frequent and more severe, people are also starting to see increases in the number of injuries and property losses. Here are just a few common types of injuries that people can suffer as a direct result of a fire:

  • Smoke inhalation and resulting respiratory damage
  • Brain injury caused by hypoxia (loss of oxygen to the brain)
  • Vision loss or damage
  • Orthopedic injuries
  • Burns
  • Organ failure
  • Permanent heart conditions
  • Death

**How Fires Can be Linked to Negligence


**Perhaps the most common type of negligent fire would be found in the structure fire. Structure fires can happen when careless individuals leave candles burning, leave lit cigarettes in their hand and fall asleep, or where landlords and building owners fail to take reasonable and necessary precautions to update faulty wiring and electrical systems. Also, many people improperly store chemicals. Highly toxic and flammable chemicals may be used by auto and equipment shops, then rags soaked in these chemicals are placed in incorrect trash or recycling bins, only to be carelessly left in direct sunlight or intense heat. This too can lead to a blaze.

*What to Do if Injured by Fire* If you or a loved one are hurt because of a fire, whether it is a wildfire or structure fire, the first step is to speak with an attorney who has years of experience handling complex insurance claims. Fire claims, unlike other injuries, are highly involved and often require specific experience in the insurance industry, in order to understand how the insurance company will investigate the matter. A Seattle injury law firm can work with you to:

  • Investigate the cause of the fire
  • Determine who caused it and whether it was negligent
  • Determine what assets and insurance are available to compensate you for the injuries
  • Make sure you get proper medical treatment
  • Fight to obtain substantial payment for your injuries

At Pivotal Law Group, our team of lawyers have been working with complex civil litigation cases for a long time. We understand what it takes to position a case for trial and negotiate the best possible settlements under the circumstances. Give our team a call today to get a free consultation with one of our attorneys.

I Was Not Wearing My Seatbelt: Can the Insurance Company Refuse to Pay?

Posted Friday, August 28, 2020 by Chris Thayer

Alternative TextNo! Many Seattle residents are involved in motor vehicle crashes annually. In fact, in Washington State, a collision happens just about every four and a half minutes, per the Department of Transportation’s Annual Collision Summary. But when a crash happens to you or to someone close to you, emotions run high. Insurance companies realize that while they deal with emergencies and car accidents daily, for the injured victim, it is perhaps the single-most devastating event in their lives. So, insurance companies do not really bat an eye at misleading or sometimes outright lying to avoid having to pay. One issue that insurance companies love to use to reduce the claim value for an injury is seatbelt use. What does the law really say about it?

*Seatbelt Rules in Washington State* There is a Washington State statute that can be found at R.C.W.A. § 46.61.688(6). This statute is very clear in what it does. It prohibits evidence of seatbelt compliance (or noncompliance) from being used in court to prove that a victim shared responsibility for their injuries. Here is what the law actually says word-for-word:

“Failure to comply with the requirements of this section does not constitute negligence, nor may failure to wear a safety belt assembly be admissible as evidence of negligence in any civil action.”

Simple enough, right? Well, in practice it is not so simple. What the law actually does is take away an insurance company’s ability to come to court and argue that you would have been hurt less had you been wearing the seatbelt. So, it does not necessarily mean that it is never going to be heard by a jury.

*When can Evidence of Seatbelt Use be Admitted as Evidence?* Despite the clear statutory rule against using your failure to wear a seatbelt as evidence that you shared responsibility for your injuries, it might come in for other reasons. Here are a few examples:

  • You told police you were reaching into your back seat when the crash happened. The defense attorney wants to argue that you were distracted and are partly to blame for the collision. He asks the court to let him introduce evidence that you were not wearing a seatbelt in order to support theory that you were distracted
  • A child passenger is ejected from a vehicle in the collision, and the defense wishes to show the jury that the child was not in a legally-required car seat or booster.
  • A physician discusses injuries on the stand and mentions the lack of a seatbelt.

*How Insurance Companies Try to Use Seatbelts to Deny Claims* Insurance companies are very good at getting people to accept lower settlements than they should. They may tell you that they know you were not wearing a seatbelt and if you were to hire a lawyer and pursue it, they simply would deny your claim. Keep one thing in mind, they do not get to decide what your case is worth. You have a right to pursue your claim through litigation and possibly even take it to a jury to decide.

At Pivotal Law Group, we pride ourselves on pursuing justice for injured victims. Our experienced trial attorneys do not let insurance carriers tell us the law, because we are making history everyday by representing seriously injured clients and obtaining justice. Call or find us online today to learn more about how we might be able to help with your injury claim.

Importance of Preserving Evidence in Trucking Accident Cases

Posted Friday, August 21, 2020 by Chris Thayer

Alternative TextIf you suffered injuries, damages, harm, or losses related to a trucking accident, you have the legal right to receive compensation from the negligent party. However, an investigation must first determine who the negligent party actually is for legal purposes. The truck driver, trucking company, cargo-loading company, or even manufacturer of trucking parts and components could remain liable for your injuries and losses. As a result, the most important foundation of your trucking accident case will rest on the evidence. Preserving evidence is critical in any accident case, but it is even more important in trucking accident cases.

*Types of Evidence to Preserve in a Trucking Accident Case* Victims of trucking accidents need to preserve both physical and electronic evidence related to their trucking case, as well as ensure that the evidence remains in its original state and condition. Some of the types of evidence needed in a trucking accident case may include the following:

  • The “black box” of the commercial truck. This electronic device contains specific data related to the truck’s speed, gear shifts, length of the time the truck was in operation, the GPS locations, communications between the trucking company and the truck, braking history, daily inspection reports and other reports filed by a truck driver
  • Contact information of all drivers and witnesses including insurance information
  • Daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly inspection records of the commercial truck including what parts were replaced or repaired
  • Daily logs of the truck driver, indicating whether or not the truck driver followed the Hours of Service Regulations required under the regulations of the Federal Motor - - Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)The work history, training, and experience of the truck driver
  • A listing of all complaints that exist against the truck driver, trucking company or cargo loading company
  • Listing of any possible recall notices for any manufactured parts or components of the commercial truck

*Preserving Evidence* The most important step any victim of a truck accident can take, aside from getting a medical evaluation, is issuing a spoliation letter to all possible liable parties associated with the accident. A spoliation letter is extremely important because it requires all parties to preserve all evidence that may possibly be related to the trucking accident, even if the party would have the legal right to destroy it otherwise. This spoliation letter is critical as it alerts all parties of an impending lawsuit and requires them to preserve evidence under the law. Failure to do so can result in harsh penalties issued by the court.

*Contact an Experienced Trucking Attorney* If you suffered any injuries or damages as a result of a trucking accident, immediate steps should be taken to preserve the evidence related to your accident. Contact the Pivotal Law Group at 206-340-2008 and learn how we can help you receive compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, property damage, and pain and suffering related to your trucking accident. We proudly serve the Seattle, Bellevue, Kent, Renton, Burien, Mercer Island, and Issaquah areas.