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

Supermarket Falls in Bellevue: A Closer Look

Posted Friday, November 18, 2022 by Chris Thayer

Grocery store falls usually cause broken bones, mostly broken ankle, hip, and wrist bones. A missed step or a bad hip often causes a fall, Then, when victims fall, they naturally extend their arms to break their falls. Head injuries are an even more serious problem. Once again, these injuries are even more severe if the victim had a pre-existing condition, such as an illness that requires blood thinning medication.

Even if a pre-existing condition contributed to the risk and/or severity of a fall injury, a Bellevue personal injury attorney can usually obtain maximum compensation for these injuries in court. This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. These cases are usually complex. An out-of-state holding company usually owns the supermarket and is therefore financially responsible for these damages.

*Responsibility Issues* During initial case reviews, attorneys often emphasize the precise fall location. Depending on the location, as well as the terms of the lease and other legal documents, the supermarket, a sublessee, or the landlord could be legally responsible for damages.

Usually, this responsibility applies if the victim was a business invitee who had express or implied permission to be at the market. Additionally, the grocery store or other defendant must have received an economic benefit. Even if shoppers do not buy anything, there is an economic benefit. Foot traffic economically benefits grocery stores and other retailers.

Additionally, the tortfeasor (negligent party) must have actual or constructive knowledge (should have known) about the hazard which caused the fall or other injury.

The supermarket is generally responsible for any injuries that occur inside the market, on the sidewalk immediately in front of the store, the drive-thru (if any) on the side, or the loading area in the back.

Frequently, smaller retailers, like fast-food restaurants and nail salons, set up shop inside supermarkets. Mostly depending on the lease terms, these sub-lessors may be legally responsible for falls and other injuries which happen on or near the premises they rent.

In almost all cases, landlords are responsible for falls and other injuries which happen in parking lots, access areas, or other general common outdoor areas.

*Possible Defenses* Assumption of the risk and comparative fault are the two most common negligence defenses in grocery store fall claims.

Many people think if store workers erected a “Caution Wet Floor” or other warning sign, they’re ineligible for compensation. A Bellevue personal injury attorney can still obtain compensation in these situations. Warning signs just make it easier for an insurance company lawyer to prove the assumption of the risk defense. This defense applies if the victim voluntarily assumed a known risk. In the sign context, an insurance company lawyer must prove the victim saw the sign, could read the sign, and could understand what the sign meant.

Repeating a familiar theme, people with poor eyesight, cognitive skills, or English proficiency often have issues in one or more of these areas.

If it applies, assumption of the risk is an absolute defense. If it applies, comparative fault typically reduces the amount of compensation, but that is it. Washington is a pure comparative fault state. If a victim was 99%t responsible for a fall, perhaps because s/he did not watch where s/he was going, the tortfeasor is still responsible for a proportionate share of damages.

*Contact a Hard-Working King County Attorney* Injury victims are entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Bellevue, contact Pivotal Law Group, PLLC. We routinely handle matters throughout Washington state.

Breaking Down a Kent Motorcycle Accident Claim

Posted Friday, November 11, 2022 by Chris Thayer

Over the years, cars and trucks have advanced by leaps and bounds, especially in terms of safety. However, today’s motorcycles are not much different from the one Lawrence of Arabia rode when he died in a 1935 motorcycle accident. Additionally, even more than a century later, the facts surrounding Thomas Lawrence’s motorcycle wreck are still unclear. This uncertainty underscores the conflicting fact issues that affect many motorcycle crash claims in Washington.

Regardless of vehicle engineering, witness statements, or anything else, a Kent personal injury lawyer is committed to maximum compensation for motorcycle accident victims. This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Additional punitive damages may be available as well, in some extreme situations.

*What Causes Motorcycle Wrecks?* Driver error causes about 98% of motorcycle wrecks and other vehicle collisions in Washington. Normally, this driver error is:

  • Operator Impairment: These wrecks basically happen when an impaired tortfeasor (negligent driver) gets behind the wheel. Alcohol and substance abuse, mostly marijuana, are the leading causes of driver impairment. Others include fatigue, distraction, or a medical condition. The first two impair judgment and/or reaction time. A medical condition could cause a sudden and unexpected loss of consciousness.
  • Aggressive Driving: Speeding, which increases the risk of a wreck and the force in a motorcycle collision, is the most common kind of aggressive driving. Velocity reduces reaction time and multiplies the force in a collision between two objects. Other kinds of aggressive driving include changing lanes unsafely, ignoring a traffic control device, and tailgating.

A defective product, like a defective tire, causes most of the other 2% of the motorcycle wrecks in the United States.

*Establishing Liability* Generally, manufacturers are strictly liable for the injuries their defective products cause. This defect could be a design or manufacturing defect.

In driver error claims, a Kent personal injury attorney must establish negligence, ro a lack of care, by a preponderance of the evidence, or more likely than not.

Usually, the lack of care is a lack of ordinary care. Under Washington law, motorists have a duty of reasonable care. They must be at their best, mentally, physically, and otherwise, when they start their cars. Additionally, as they drive, they must avoid accidents whenever possible, not drive in such a way that increases the risk of a wreck.

The negligence per se doctrine, which is a lack of statutory care, applies in a few cases. If a tortfeasor violates a safety law and that violation substantially causes injury, the tortfeasor could be responsible for damages as a matter of law.

In both cases, a third party, like an employer or a commercial alcohol provider, could be financially responsible for the aforementioned damages.

*Possible Defenses* Comparative fault and the helmet defense are the two most common insurance company defenses in motorcycle crash claims.

Basically, comparative fault shifts blame for an accident from the tortfeasor to the victim. For example, an insurance company lawyer might admit the tortfeasor was intoxicated, and blame the wreck on the victim’s unsafe lane change. Washington law is quite complex in this area.

The helmet defense is even more complex. Washington is one of the few states with a universal helmet requirement. However, under R.C.W.A. § 46.61.688(6), that non-use may not be admissible in court, at least for the purposes of reducing or denying compensation.

*Reach Out to a Diligent King County Attorney* Injury victims are entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Bellevue, contact Pivotal Law Group, PLLC. Attorneys can connect victims with doctors, even if they have no insurance or money.

Most Commonly Misdiagnosed Conditions in Mercer Island

Posted Friday, November 4, 2022 by Chris Thayer

When it comes to healthcare matters, doctors have considerable education, training, and experience. On the other hand, their patients have almost none of these things. Since patients depend entirely on doctors for most or all of their healthcare needs, doctors have a fiduciary duty. They must bring all their education, training, and experience to bear whenever they meet with a patient, especially when the doctor diagnoses a serious or chronic illness.

Unfortunately for their patients, many doctors take dangerous shortcuts as they diagnose illnesses. Some doctors do not order a full array of diagnostic tests. So, they do not issue an evidence-based diagnosis. Instead, they rely on their instincts. On a related note, some doctors over-delegate test result interpretation tasks to nurses or even patient care technicians. These professionals are not qualified to interpret tests.

Because of this high duty of care, and also because many doctors flagrantly disregard this responsibility, a Mercer Island personal injury lawyer is often able to obtain substantial compensation in medical misdiagnosis claims. This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Additional punitive damages are often available, as well.

*Head Injuries* Since 2007, head injury-related ER visits have increased more than 50%, to almost three million a year. About 90% of these victims are treated and released. Primarily, that is because of confusion over head injury symptoms and over the nature of these wounds.

Car wrecks are, by far, the leading cause of head injuries in the United States. Accident shock and initial head injury symptoms are almost identical. Therefore, many doctors immediately dismiss symptoms like neck soreness and general disorientation as temporary maladies that will soon pass. As a result, victims do not get the treatment they need until their injuries are much worse and much more difficult to treat.

Additionally, although science has proved otherwise, many doctors still believe head injuries are temporary conditions that soon pass. As far as they are concerned, rest and hydration are the only necessary treatments.

The higher duty of care applies in both areas. Doctors must thoroughly examine patients, even if these exams are more time-consuming. Additionally, the duty of care requires doctors to keep up with the latest advances in medical knowledge.

*Cancer* Head injuries, especially car crash-related head injuries, can happen to anyone at any time. The same thing is true for cancer. However, to many doctors, cancer is a genetic or lifestyle condition.

Family history is a key cancer predictive tool. However, family history is not always accurate. Toxic exposure cancer is a good example. Many people who work around dangerous chemicals, including Roundup, develop cancer, even though they have no family history of this disease.

Lifestyle is very similar. Many doctors believe that only women get breast cancer, only heavy drinkers get liver cancer, only smokers get lung cancer, and so on. While these things are generally true, they are certainly not always true.

Cancer survival rates have almost shot up since the 1990s. Nevertheless, a delayed diagnosis still causes the survival rate to plummet. As most of us know, it is much harder to win a game if you must play from behind.

*Count on a Hard-Working King County Attorney* Injury victims are entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Mercer Island, contact Pivotal Law Group, PLLC. Attorneys can connect victims with doctors, even if they do not have any money or insurance.

Breaking Down an Alcohol-Related Wreck in Issaquah

Posted Friday, October 28, 2022 by Chris Thayer

Way back in the 1980s, alcohol impairment or intoxication caused almost half of the fatal car crashes in America. So, politicians in Washington and elsewhere promised to “get tough” on “drunk drivers.” The new tough policies included stronger laws and stronger law enforcement tools. Despite all this effort, alcohol abuse still causes almost half of the fatal car crashes in Washington.

When politicians fail to protect people, an Issaquah personal injury lawyer stands in the gap. Attorneys hold tortfeasors (negligent drivers) responsible for the wrecks they cause. More importantly, an attorney obtains the compensation these victims need and deserve. At best, limited compensation is available through the criminal law process. The compensation in a civil claim usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.

*First Party Liability* We mentioned alcohol impairment and intoxication above. These two I-words are very different. Either I-word is sufficient to establish liability for damages.

Alcohol is a depressant and a muscle relaxant that impairs judgment ability and slows motor skills and reaction time. These impairing effects begin with the first sip of alcohol. Evidence of impairment includes:

  • Erratic driving before the wreck,
  • The odor of alcohol, slurred speech, and other physical symptoms,
  • Tortfeasor’s statements about alcohol use, such as the infamous “I only had a couple of beers,” and
  • Previous schedule of the tortfeasor.

If the tortfeasor was recently at a party where alcohol was available, or at a restaurant that served alcohol, it is more likely than not that the tortfeasor had something to drink. More likely than not (a preponderance of the evidence) is the burden of proof in a civil claim.

An Issaquah personal injury attorney could use the negligence per se rule to establish liability if an emergency responder cited the tortfeasor for DUI or a similar infraction. Generally, people who violate penal safety laws and cause crashes are responsible for them as a matter of law. Negligence per se usually still applies regardless of the criminal court outcome. So, even if the tortfeasor “beats” the DUI in criminal court, s/he is most likely still on the hook for the aforementioned damages.

*Third-Party Liability* Fundamentally, civil claims force people to accept responsibility for the mistakes they make. Sometimes, this mistake and this responsibility happen before the tortfeasor gets behind the wheel.

In Washington, it is illegal for bars, restaurants, and other commercial providers to sell alcohol to obviously intoxicated people. Evidence of intoxication at the point of sale usually includes bloodshot eyes, unsteady balance, and the other aforementioned physical symptoms.

It is also illegal to sell alcohol to minors. Some once-common defenses, like they looked older, usually do not hold up in court in King County.

Speaking of alcohol and minors, it is also illegal for party hosts to provide alcohol to minors. So, if a host lets a minor consume alcohol, and that minor subsequently causes a car crash, the party host could be financially responsible for damages. If the impaired or intoxicated guest was an adult, another legal theory, like negligent undertaking, might be available.

*Connect With a Diligent King County Attorney* Injury victims are entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Mercer Island, contact Pivotal Law Group, PLLC. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these matters.

Nursing Home Fall Claims in Bellevue: What You Should Know

Posted Friday, October 21, 2022 by Chris Thayer

Negligence causes most falls, especially serious injury falls. At nursing homes in Bellevue, understaffing, which affects about 94% of these facilities, often causes such negligence. Understaffed facilities often do not have staff members in common areas to assist residents as they walk around or, more importantly, as they get up and sit down. Additionally, understaffed facilities do not have staff members to redirect residents away from construction areas and other hazardous areas.

Many older adults have pre-existing conditions which contribute to the risk of a fall or the injuries the victim sustains. We mentioned getting up and sitting down above. Frequently, these everyday movements cause older adults to break their hips, usually because the victim’s center of gravity is off. Additionally, many older adults have gait disorders. Since they shuffle their feet when they walk, when these individuals stumble, they cannot regain their balance, and they fall.

A fall causes severe physical and emotional injuries. In fact, these injuries are so severe that most nursing home fall victims cannot ever live independently again. A Bellevue personal injury lawyer obtains the financial compensation these victims need to make the most out of the rest of their lives. Maximum compensation is a process and not a result. An attorney stands with you throughout the process, no matter how long it takes.

*Legal Responsibility* Most people are familiar with the duty of care. For example, motorists have a legal responsibility to drive defensively and, if possible, avoid accidents. Property owners have a similar responsibility if the victim was an invitee.

Basically, an invitee is anyone with permission to be on the property. Furthermore, an invitee must benefit the owner in some way. Nursing home residents are invitees, specifically commercial invitees, in Washington. Nursing home visitors are arguably invitees as well. Visitors lift residents’ spirits, and that benefits nursing home owners.

To fulfill the duty of reasonable care, owners must create safe environments for invitees. Furthermore, owners must inspect the property, to ensure that it remains safe.

A lesser duty of care applies if the victim was a trespasser (no permission and no benefit) or a licensee (permission but no benefit).

*Practical Responsibility* Additionally, a Bellevue personal injury lawyer must prove the owner knew or should have known about the fall-causing hazard, and that owner negligence, or a lack of care, caused the injury.

Wet spots on floors, uneven indoor walkways, loose handrails, and icy outdoor walkways are the most common fall hazards in Washington nursing homes. Direct evidence of actual knowledge of these hazards includes restroom cleaning reports and safety inspection reports. Circumstantial evidence of constructive knowledge (should have known) usually goes back to the reasonableness standard. If the owner had a reasonable opportunity to address the hazard, the owner should have done so.

Before 2022, the open-and-obvious doctrine was the most effective insurance company defense in fall injury cases. Basically, if the victim did not watch where s/he was going, the owner was not responsible for a fall injury. However, a Washington Court of Appeals decision essentially gutted this defense and made it much less effective. So, it is easier to prove negligence and obtain compensation.

This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.

*Rely on a Hard-Working King County Attorney* Injury victims are entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Bellevue, contact Pivotal Law Group, PLLC. Virtual, home, and hospital visits are available.