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

Are Soft Tissue Injuries Not That Serious?

Posted Friday, February 19, 2021 by Chris Thayer

If you have recently been involved in a motor vehicle crash, there is a decent chance you may have heard the expression “soft tissue injury.” This is because insurance companies are great at recharacterizing injuries to suit their needs. Some insurance claims adjusters will call a blown disc in your back a soft tissue injury. Hernia? Minor injury soft tissue. Sprain, strain, pulled ligaments, torn tendons? Soft tissue injury.

As you can likely tell, anything that is not a fractured bone will probably get referred to as a soft tissue injury. Insurance companies know that soft tissue is a tough topic for some to understand, and recharacterizing it this way makes it seem less serious. But are soft tissue injuries really not that serious? Should an insurance company still have to pay for them? At Pivotal Law Group, our dedicated personal injury lawyers know that soft tissue injuries are some of the most common and most painful injuries we see. Here are a few reasons to take them seriously.

*Soft Tissue Takes a Long Time to Heal*Unlike a fracture, which can be placed in a cast usually, a typical soft tissue injury is not treatable with traditional immobilization techniques. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommends the R.I.C.E. method when treating a soft tissue injury. This stands for

  • Rest
  • Ice
  • Compression
  • Elevation

Some soft-tissue injuries can take upwards of 10-16 weeks to heal, and some can even be permanent if the trauma is bad enough. So, do not let an insurance company make you think your injuries are minimal just because there is no fracture.

*Soft Tissue Injuries are Harder to Identify*Unlike a fracture, most soft tissue injuries can only be discovered using CT or MRI imaging. X-rays rarely show evidence of herniations, disc injuries, sprains and similar soft tissue injury. Therefore, the medical costs can get pretty high, even just from diagnostics.

*Easier to Misdiagnose*Unless you work with the right healthcare providers from the start, there is a pretty decent chance your back or neck injury will get misdiagnosed. Some physicians hate working with insurance cases, meaning they do not want to wait for the auto insurance company to pay the bill. Instead, they will either refuse to treat auto accident patients, or they will downplay the injuries so as to get the health insurance company to pay instead. Of course, the problem with this is that this hurts your chances of getting a fair settlement.

When you work with a skilled and experienced team of auto accident lawyers, we know who these healthcare providers are, so you can steer clear. Ultimately, your goal is to get better, and that is our goal too. So, call Pivotal Law Group today, and let one of our experienced attorneys guide you toward maximum compensation for your injuries. The call is free, and we never get paid unless you do.

Special Compensation Available for Wrongful Death

Posted Friday, February 12, 2021 by Chris Thayer

When someone you love dies unexpectedly and someone or some company is responsible for causing that death, the pain and anger can be overwhelming. There are many immediate frustrations and complex emotions, and people often feel as though there is little they can do. Some feel helpless or overwhelmed, while others may simply be furious. In the meantime, however, as the clock ticks, those responsible often spend countless hours working to hide evidence and build a defense in anticipation of a possible claim. Wrongful death cases are especially complex and require more skill and strategy than a typical injury case. But for those who can prove that negligence caused the death, special compensation may be available.

*Understanding Wrongful Death*A wrongful death claim can be related to a fatal car crash, motorcycle collision, trucking accident, deadly fall, or even medical negligence. Whatever the cause, if negligence is the culprit, the family of the decedent can seek compensation. The important thing to consider is to whom the claim actually belongs. Unlike an asset of the deceased individual’s estate, a wrongful death claim technically ‘belongs’ to the surviving heirs. In Washington, the representative of the estate can bring the case, but the damages associated with wrongful death are typically based on the losses and injuries to the survivors, more so than the deceased. Here are just a few examples.

*Loss of Society*Under RCW 4.20.010, Washington State law provides that surviving heirs and beneficiaries can recover for economic and noneconomic damages caused by the death of the decedent. One such damage is loss of society. This is monetary compensation for the loss of love, affection, and relationship. When someone you love dearly is taken from you unexpectedly, there is an emotional and hedonic loss that is hard to put into strong context. This is frequently the intangible, yet very real loss that is compensated.

*Loss of Income*When someone dies while in their working years, their loss of income is often an enormous loss, not just for their immediate family, but also for their heirs. Consider the effect on a family when the patriarch dies. If the breadwinner of a family dies, this can lead to long term financial devastation that can alter the course of the family’s success for decades.

*Medical Expenses*Many deaths are not immediate. Instead, they involve lengthy and very expensive medical treatment. The surviving family should not be left to pay those bills, and those debts should not be left to deplete their estate and inheritances to heirs. For these reasons, medical bills are often one of the more significant driving factors behind a settlement or verdict.

*Funeral Expenses*The decedent’s final medical bills and funeral expenses may also be sought. This means that any out-of-pocket costs associated with a funeral, cemetery, burial, or ceremony might be covered.

*Pain and Suffering*When a person is killed by someone else’s negligence, there are various types of claims that can be brought along with the wrongful death action, including a survival claim. This is an action that “survives” the death of the individual. A survival claim can be used to collect compensation for physical and emotional pain and suffering experienced by the decedent prior to death.

*How to Achieve Maximum Compensation*If you lost someone you love due to someone else’s carelessness, there is really only one way to fight for compensation. You will need to make sure you take action and contact an experienced Seattle wrongful death lawyer to make sure you meet the statute of limitations. You must file a lawsuit within the deadline, or your rights will be forever barred. In most cases, that deadline is just three years from the date of the death in Washington. But do not wait that long. There are unique situations that can potentially shorten that time period. So take action now. Call Pivotal Law Group today. The call is free, and you pay nothing unless your attorney is able to collect compensation for you.

Three Reasons Why Every Washingtonian Should Carry Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Insurance

Posted Friday, February 5, 2021 by Chris Thayer

For Seattle area residents who drive their vehicles every day for work and school, there is always a real threat of potential danger. As the population continues to grow and the traffic density increases, car accidents are on the rise. Despite slight lulls in auto travel during the pandemic, the Seattle Times reports that last year saw record traffic fatalities. While it is the responsibility of the wrongdoer to make it right when they cause injuries to others, none of us should rely solely on the insurance coverage provided by someone else on the road. This is why there is uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage available. Many people do not really understand what this type of coverage is used for and when it kicks in. So, here are five clear reasons why experienced injury lawyers recommend that you carry sufficient policy limits and always carry uninsured and underinsured motorist insurance to protect yourself.

*There are a Lot of Uninsured Drivers *Komo News explains that nearly 20% 20% of all Washington motorists are operating without insurance. Think about that for a moment. If that statistics holds true, then one in five people driving around on the road will have no insurance coverage. This means if one of those people should hit you or someone you love, there is a real possibility that there will be no money available to compensate for your injuries, medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering. Hence, it is important to carry insurance for yourself.

*Minimum Limits are Not Enough*Washington State law only requires vehicle owners to carry $25,000 in liability insurance coverage per person they injure. With the average cost of emergency medical care on the rise, this is rarely sufficient to cover even minor injuries. A broken arm and some lacerations could easily exceed the amount of insurance the other driver carries. This is why it is important to carry underinsured motorist coverage. This type of insurance kicks in to make up the difference between your own coverage and what the other person carried.

*Lots of Accidents Give Insurance Companies the Right to Disclaim Coverage*It is not just uninsured motorists that can cause problems. There are numerous types of incidents that create uninsured motorist issues. Consider just a few situations in which an otherwise insured vehicle may still not give way to coverage for your injuries:

  • Stolen vehicles
  • Rental vehicles
  • Undocumented workers
  • Out of state drivers without coverage
  • Hit and run scenarios
  • Pedestrian collisions

*You May Still Have a Right to Compensation Even if the Other Driver is Uninsured*Even if the other driver is uninsured, a skilled Seattle auto accident lawyer may still be able to obtain significant compensation for your injuries, so long as you carry uninsured motorist insurance. The procedures are slightly different, but the compensation can be just as significant, assuming you have decent limits. For help after a car accident in Seattle, call Pivotal Law Group today to schedule a free consultation.

Defective Side Impact Airbags

Posted Friday, January 29, 2021 by Chris Thayer

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, side impact airbags (including side “curtain” airbags) greatly reduce the chance of serious injury or death in a collision. In fact, side impact airbags have been shown to reduce the risk of death by as much as 37% in driver-side impacts. For SUV crashes to the driver’s side, that risk of death is reduced by as much as 52%. Unfortunately, sometimes these airbags are defective. When defects exist, the resulting injuries can be catastrophic or even deadly. Experienced Seattle products liability lawyers may be able to obtain significant compensation for families who lose loved ones in fatal collisions when the airbags were defective.

*How do Side Impact Airbags Deploy?*Airbags - including side-impact airbags - deploy when a small ignitor switch is triggered by sensors in the vehicle. These sensors trigger an electrical impulse that fires and creates a small explosion that rapidly releases air and expands the airbags in a split second. So, what happens when things go wrong?

*What Can Go Wrong?*In general, there are several ways that airbag defects can happen. These are:

  • Failed ignitor switch. When this happens, there simply is no triggering effect, and the airbags never receive the signal to open.
  • Fake Airbags. Though rare, there are some companies and used vehicle dealers who have refurbished motor vehicles by installing fake or substandard airbags.
  • Broken On/Off Switches. Any newer vehicles have a switch that allows the operator to turn the passenger airbags on or off. This can be helpful if someone is riding in the front who has a health condition that makes airbags unsafe, or if there is no one riding, these switches can help to avoid an airbag striking another object in the seat. These switches can go bad.
  • Recalls. Perhaps the most infamous problems with airbags are those that tend to result in recalls, like the Takata Airbag Recall.

**Getting Compensated for Injuries

**When someone is seriously injured due to faulty or malfunctioning airbags, there is often a right to seek monetary compensation. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that defective and recalled airbags present a serious danger to the public. If you have a moment, you should check to see if your vehicle has a recall.

Do not try to fight the large auto manufacturers and insurance carriers alone. It is often an expensive and highly complex process. At Pivotal Law Group, our Seattle product liability lawyers fight hard to make sure clients receive the compensation that they deserve. But there are strict deadlines that apply. If you miss a single deadline, you might forever lose the right to seek compensation. Contact our team today for a free evaluation of your airbag or other product liability claim.

What Happens to Personal Injury Proceeds if the Plaintiff Dies?

Posted Friday, January 22, 2021 by Chris Thayer

Maybe one of the more common questions that people ask about personal injury cases - especially serious or catastrophic ones - is what will happen to the funds if they die. Sometimes the question comes from adult children or other relatives. Other times, the injured person will ask, worried that there will be nothing left for their heirs. Fortunately, there is an easy answer that typically sets people at ease when they hear it. Local Seattle personal injury lawyers are often able to secure settlements and verdicts on behalf of the deceased victim, even long after they pass away.

*Washington’s Survival Act*Under Washington law, there is a statute known as the Survival Act, found at RCW 4.20.046, which allows legal actions to “survive” a deceased victim. It works by preserving the right of a victim to pursue an action even after death. But because dead people cannot legally sue, a personal representative must bring a lawsuit on behalf of the estate and heirs.

*Why Allow Lawsuits After Death?*Some may find it odd that an estate can sue for injuries to someone who has already died, but there are a couple reasons.

  • The injury becomes a right to collect the moment it occurs. This is a bit of a theoretical concept, but in short, as soon as a person is injured by someone else’s negligent or wrongful act, the victim immediately has a legal right to pursue compensation for the injury and losses it causes. Just like a car, bank account, or anything else the person has in his or her possession at death, the right to sue passes to the person’s estate.
  • Defendants should not avoid liability just because their victims die. If wrongdoers and negligent people and companies could escape responsibility for their actions solely because their victims die, then it would have an absurd and backward result. It would essentially mean it is better to kill your victim than to just injure them. Public policy cannot allow that.

*Who Gets the Money?*Whether the injury causes the death or not, the funds recovered will pass to the decedent’s heirs. Most of the time, this means the funds are distributed to the immediate family or as otherwise stated in a will. In some situations, heirs may have disputes about how money should be distributed, but fortunately, Washington State has a statute that applies.

Under RCW 11.04.015, the state has created a hierarchy of inheritance rules, which applies when there is no will. Under this statute, there is a clear “pecking order” that explains who gets what and in which circumstances.

*Get Help Early*It is very wise to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer as early as possible because the sooner an attorney is involved, the sooner you can protect your right to pursue compensation. Call Pivotal Law Group today, and schedule your free case evaluation. There is no risk and no obligation, so call now.