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

Road Rage Injuries on the Rise

Posted Friday, October 25, 2019 by Chris Thayer

Alternative TextRecent studies have shown that road rage incidents are on the rise nationally. According to a CNN report this year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has revealed data showing that road rage incidents resulting in fatalities have increased 500% in the years between 2006 and 2016. Sadly, when aggressive driving and road rage occur, insurance companies often use a little-known and little-understood insurance tactic to avoid paying for the damages that are caused.

Imagine someone being intentionally run off the road, killed or maimed by the accident, then the insurance company claiming that no coverage should extend. Sadly, it happens all the time. If you or someone you care about should ever suffer a road rage injury, auto accident attorneys in Seattle may be able to help you recover more quickly and receive maximum compensation for the damages.

*What Exactly is Road Rage?* Road rage is exactly what it sounds like; it is aggressive and unsafe driving caused by drivers getting so angry that they intentionally use their vehicle to intimidate, harass, or threaten others on the road. Road rage can escalate quickly. Just consider the example of the recent road rage shooting that took place near Tiger Mountain and ended at the Issaquah Hobart Road exit. When people get angry while driving, they often forget that they are operating heavy machinery at high speeds. In some cases, people even get out of their cars and fight or they use firearms to “settle the score” on the road.

*Road Rage and Insurance Coverage* Almost all insurance contracts have some provision allowing the insurance company to deny coverage where the injury is the result of an intentional or criminal act. In other words, we all buy car insurance to protect ourselves. If we should accidentally or even negligently injure someone while behind the wheel, this insurance kicks in to hire a lawyer to defend us and pay for any liability we may have. The amount of insurance we purchase is the limit of what the insurance company must pay to protect us. If the liability is in excess of that amount, we can still be sued, but we would be on the hook for the difference between coverage limits and the judgment.

Insurance coverage is there to protect us from situations in which we are careless or negligent – not when we commit crimes. Therefore, insurance policies are written to exclude intentional acts of violence. For this reason, when a person gets out of his or her car and begins assaulting someone, insurance coverage often stops.

*How to Collect Insurance When Injured by Road Rage* Often, the injuries are compounded. First, the victim is hurt by a collision, then the victim receives other injuries during a roadside assault. An insurance company will try to attribute the majority of the injuries to the assault, while downplaying the injuries from the crash. It is very important to hire an experienced attorney immediately, so that you can focus and get the insurance company to pay.

The attorneys of Pivotal Law Group have decades of experience helping victims of aggressive driving accidents recover money for their injuries. To protect your rights, call or visit us online today.

Three Ways to Prove Your Wage Loss Claim in a Personal Injury Case

Posted Friday, October 18, 2019 by Chris Thayer

Alternative TextIf you have been hurt in a Seattle auto accident, you may already realize that you have some options for getting help with the insurance claim. Do you know what you will need to provide in order to prove your injuries and damages? Most people do not. Fortunately, skilled auto accident lawyers may be able to help shed some light on the process and make sense of the situation. Lost wages are just one type of damage that you can try to recover, and there are generally a few great ways to help prove your lost wage claim.

*Written Verification From Employer* Perhaps the simplest way to prove your loss of income from a car accident is to obtain verification from your employer. Most employers are fairly reasonable, and a personnel or human resources department can complete a form (usually provided by your attorney), stating your income, number of days missed, and total loss of compensation. Keep in mind, however, that this is merely for settlement purposes. Such a document is generally not going to work at trial, but it is typically enough to help an insurance company understand the amount of work you missed.

*Pay Stubs* The second type of proof is your pay stub. This can be a tricky one, though. For employees who work hourly wage positions and miss a number of days due to their injuries, showing pay stubs from a few weeks prior to the injury, as well as the pay stub for the pay period when the accident occurred, can help an insurance company acknowledge that you did indeed see a diminished income as a result of the injury. Take caution, though, if you have a history of poor attendance, missed a lot of days before the crash, or were terminated for too many absences unrelated to your injury. In that case, your pay stubs may do more harm than good.

*Affidavits and Testimony* There are two types of testimony recognized in the law – written and oral. Written testimony is in the form of signed affidavits that are made under oath. Oral testimony is sworn and done in court or a deposition. If your injury case is poised to go to trial, it may be necessary to produce a written and signed affidavit from your employer or accountant or someone else familiar with your regular income. The affidavit should set forth your:

  • Rate of pay
  • Frequency of pay
  • Time absent from work due to injury
  • Total compensation not paid for these periods

If the case is tried before a jury, the person signing the affidavit may even have to come to court and openly testify about it.

*Collecting All Damages Available to You* If you are injured in Washington State, there are specific jury instructions that will be used to govern how you must prove your damages. Never leave money on the table by trying to pursue a claim alone. Contact Pivotal Law Group to discuss your injuries free of charge. Our team can help you understand all of the potential options you have for collecting compensation after an injury.

Do Medical Malpractice Lawsuits Increase Insurance Premiums?

Posted Friday, October 11, 2019 by Chris Thayer

Sadly, like just about everything in public discourse today, the issue of rising insurance premiums is the source of much heated debate. On one hand, healthcare organizations and physicians’ groups frequently decry malpractice lawsuits as driving up premiums and sending doctors packing out of Washington State. On the other hand, consumer watch groups and other research-based entities have repeatedly debunked these myths. Ultimately, the answers are quite straightforward and easy to find.

Experienced medical malpractice attorneys who work in the industry everyday understand that bad medical care happens all too often. Doctors misdiagnose, injure, and sometimes kill their patients, yet more often than not, they face little if any consequences from the medical boards. Consider a few important statistics and facts about this issue.

*Understanding Insurance Generally* Before someone can really debate the issue of insurance premiums and malpractice lawsuits, first they need to understand how insurance actually works. Insurance companies purchase risk. It is legalized gambling. The insurance company is trying to figure out how likely a particular doctor or hospital will be sued and, if they are, what the likely annual cost of those lawsuits will be. So, if there are more lawsuits, the costs will be higher. If there are more costs to pay out, then yes, premiums are going up. But this only tells part of the story. It explains how the premiums go up, but it does not explain why there are more claims and lawsuits.

*Malpractice Statistics* A while back in 2005 during heated tort reform debates, the watchdog group Public Citizen released a detailed analysis of some of the problems with blaming patients for physician errors. In their report, they explained that the real problem may actually be repeat offenders, as they called them. These are doctors and other healthcare providers who repeatedly are sued and have high-cost claims, yet they go undisciplined by any review boards. They even outlined numerous examples of doctors who have had upwards of four or five clear acts of malpractice resulting in millions of dollars in settlements and verdicts in the span of only a few years, yet these same doctors went undisciplined. This means they keep practicing and keep hurting people.

*Third Leading Cause of Death in America* What is the third leading cause of death in the U.S.? bet you did not guess medical errors? A recent Johns Hopkins study revealed that this is actually true. The research showed that over 250,000 people in this country die annually as a direct result of medical errors and malpractice. Some surveys have suggested numbers as high as 440,000 per year.

Either way, when medical mistakes are mounting at an alarming rate and people are being disfigured, permanently injured, and even killed due to poor medical care, then yes, doctors and hospitals will be sued more. The real question is, should society blame the innocent patient who suffered, their family who must live with the trauma, the health insurance companies that must foot the bill to treat injuries, or the negligent healthcare professional?

For those suffering from serious or fatal medical errors in Washington State, turn to Pivotal Law Group for compassionate and skilled guidance. For a free consultation with one of our experienced medical malpractice attorneys, call or visit us online today.

Six Things to Bring to Your Initial Consultation with a Personal Injury Attorney

Posted Friday, October 4, 2019 by Chris Thayer

Alternative TextIt is no surprise that when people get into a motor vehicle accident, they become flustered and often forget really important things. Like any trauma, a car accident can play tricks on your mind, making you forget key details or, worse yet, make you say and do things you should not. This is why all drivers should consider making a plan. This can be as simple as jotting down a few notes on the envelope where you keep your registration and insurance, or as thorough as saving an attorney’s contact information in your phone.

The following are six key things you should remember to gather when going to an initial consultation with an attorney. Keep in mind that some of these will require you to take immediate action at the time of the collision, or else you will not have them later.

*Crash Report* Every law enforcement agency in Washington State has a means for recording information. For those agencies that investigate traffic accidents, there will generally be a crash report generated. This is the official record of the accident, the parties involved, and other helpful information. Contact the police department that responded to the scene, and they should be able to give you a copy. For the Washington State Patrol, you can go here to obtain a copy online.

*Photos of the Crash Scene and Damage* In this modern, high-tech world, it is shocking how many people do not take photographs of the damages after an accident. Many people are so shaken up by the event that they simply forget to document everything. But it is critical that you get photographs of the scene and the vehicles involved. If you are so badly injured that you are unable to do so, do not worry. It is important for sure, but human life and safety are always the first priority.

*Insurance information* While it may be obvious that your attorney will need a copy of your auto insurance, do not forget to bring proof of any health insurance, Medicaid, and Medicare coverage you may have. If you are in the military, you should also be prepared to bring Tricare information. This is because these insurance companies may have liens that your attorney will need to address.

*Medical Reports and Discharge Papers* Chances are if you are hiring an attorney due to injuries in a car accident, you probably have injuries that put you in the hospital or at least required you to go to a doctor. Whatever records you have thus far, bring those to your free consultation with a Seattle auto accident lawyer. This information will help your attorney know where you got care.

*Paystubs or Employment Verification* It is usually helpful to bring some paystubs, too. This is not a necessity, but if you are losing work due to the injuries, your attorney may be able to get you compensated for these lost wages. To do that, the attorney will need a reference for how much you are losing.

*Adjuster Information* While it is always best to hire an attorney early in the process, many times injured people have already been contacted by insurance companies immediately after the wreck. If so, do not fret. Just bring in the contact information, including claim number, phone number, and anything else you were given by the insurance company. Be sure to bring any paperwork the insurance company sent you, as well.

If you have suffered injuries in a Seattle motor vehicle collision, call Pivotal Law Group today to schedule your free consultation with an attorney.

What are My Rights After a Truck Accident?

Posted Friday, September 27, 2019 by Chris Thayer

Alternative TextAs one of the busiest and fastest growing parts of the country, the Seattle metro region can be notoriously congested. Large 18-wheelers must navigate the busy streets, as well as make deliveries on treacherous hills and difficult terrain. Add to this the fact that Washington State also gets its share of bad weather, and you have got a recipe for potential disasters. Sadly, each year, many people are seriously hurt or killed by dangerous truck drivers who fail to follow basic road rules.

If you have been injured by a semi-truck driver, you need to seriously consider your options before speaking to an insurance adjuster or company rep. These people will want to immediately settle out to make you go away, but at Pivotal Law Group, we keep things fair. Understanding your rights is one of the biggest benefits of working with an experienced truck accident lawyer.

*Right to Counsel* No matter what anyone tells you, you always have the right to hire an attorney and let him or her deal with the trucking company and insurance carrier. If anyone tries to tell you they “cannot” talk to your lawyer, then they are lying.

*Right to Compensation* You actually have a Constitutional right to pursue compensation. It is right in the Seventh Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees that you have the right to file suit against someone who owes you money. Make no mistake: Serious trucking collisions will cost you money. You can potentially recover money for:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Lost time from work
  • Medical expenses
  • Emotional distress (in limited circumstances)
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Wrongful death compensation (if you lose a loved one)

*Right to Fair Insurance Claims Handling* The Washington Insurance Commissioner actually promulgates rules for how insurance claims must be handled. Very few people other than insurance claims adjusters and experienced personal injury attorneys know these regulations because they can be a bit obscure. However, they dictate how insurance companies can treat claims. They tell adjusters how long they have to make decisions, and they even set forth many of the basic rights a victim has. If the insurance carrier wrongfully denies a valid claim, they can even be subjected to additional legal actions for something called “bad faith.” Though rare, having a skilled attorney at your side will reduce the chances of this happening, and if it does, it will help to ensure you are compensated for it.

*Right to Privacy* While it is true that initiating a lawsuit or injury claim will open you to some scrutiny about your medical history and your injuries, this is not unlimited. When a person is hurt in an auto or truck accident, the insurance company will generally send template healthcare releases, asking the person to sign and return them in order to be compensated. These forms often give the insurance company complete and unrestricted access to the victim’s entire medical history. In most cases, this is an unnecessary and overreaching intrusion.

At Pivotal Law Group, we work to protect our clients from overreaching and unfair practices. If you would like to learn more or need to schedule a free consultation to discuss your truck accident in Seattle or a neighboring community, give us a call today.