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

Common Auto Accident Defenses

Posted Thursday, December 13, 2012 by Chris Thayer

alt textOnce you have filed an auto accident injury claim, don’t be surprised if the defendant tries to deny liability. Since the insurance company does not want to pay on a claim unless it has to, any evidence that you or someone else is at least partially to blame for an accident will likely lead to dispute. Your Seattle auto accident attorney knows how to fight for you against such defenses.

Questioning Your Injuries

One of the more common auto accident defenses is that the plaintiff – or injured party – either is exaggerating his injuries or that they existed before the accident. If you do have a pre-existing condition that could be used in such a defense, it is essential that you let your Seattle auto accident attorney know. Moreover, he or she will advise you not to over-state your injuries.

Claiming You Were at Fault

Another common defense is to claim that you were in some way at fault for the accident. The defendant may admit to being partly responsible, but argue that:

  • Your actions contributed to the accident.
  • You could have prevented the accident.
  • You were in fact completely responsible for the accident.

The latter claim is less likely than the others. However, if you stopped suddenly or made a turn without signaling, the defendant may have grounds for suggesting that you share in culpability for the accident. This is termed contributory or comparative negligence, which means either that your actions contributed to the accident or that your negligence needs to be compared to that of the defendant. Should there be some validity to this defense, your Seattle auto accident attorney will need to establish that your liability was less than that of the defendant.

Claiming Someone Else Was at Fault

The defendant may also claim that someone else was at fault. For instance, he may claim that the actions of a third driver caused the collision. Other arguments that could be made are that road conditions were hazardous, and that the responsible government entity should have taken measures to secure the area; or that a defect in the defendant’s automobile led to the accident.

If You Have Been Injured

If you are injured in a car crash due to the negligence of someone else, it may be in your best interests to hire a Seattle auto accident attorney. Call Chris Thayer to arrange a free consultation today at (206) 340-2008.

Warm Colors - Cool Rain

Posted Thursday, December 13, 2012 by Chris Thayer

Warm Colors - Cool Rain

Lake Chelan: Lakeshore Trail near Stehekin

Posted Thursday, December 13, 2012 by Chris Thayer

Lake Chelan: Lakeshore Trail near Stehekin

Who is to Blame in a Multiple Car Accident?

Posted Monday, November 19, 2012 by Chris Thayer

If you are in a car accident that involves multiple cars, determining the amount of fault attributable to each driver can be difficult and complicated. Taking photographs of the relative position of the vehicles (if safe to do alt textso), getting the names and contact information from all witnesses, and making sure the police are called to the scene are all helpful. There can be more than one party at fault for causing a collision.

Following Car Doctrine

In a rear end collision, the car which fails to come to a stop and strikes the car in front of it is almost always going to be considered at fault for causing the collision. This is known as the Following Car Doctrine. There are exceptions, but they are rare and only arise out of fairly atypical situations.

In what I call “sandwich collisions”, there are three or more cars in a line that get stacked up. Imagine a line of three cars and the last car in line (car 3) strikes the car in front of it (car 2) so hard that strikes the car in front of it (car 1); in most cases the driver of car 3 will be considered at fault – and no fault or liability will be attributed to car 2 – unless it can be shown that 2 was also negligent in some way.

Comparative Fault

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Washington law allows for the fault (i.e. liability) for causing an accident to be attributed to more than one party. This ultimately is a question for the jury to decide if you have to file suit. In Washington, where you have a fault free plaintiff, there is what is known as joint and several liability for the at fault defendants.

Joint and Several Liability

Example: You (the plaintiff) are in car 1 and involved in an accident with two other people (defendants) in car 2 and car 3, both defendants are negligent and you are “fault free” but are seriously injured in the accident. In this situation, the jury would ultimately have the duty of apportioning fault for causing the collision between car 2 and car 3. Because of the “joint and several liability” under this situation, even if only 10% of the fault were attributed to car 2 and 90% to car 3 – you would have the right to collect the full judgment from either car 2 or car 3 (but no double recovery allowed).

Insurance Companies

Insurance companies, when negotiating with unrepresented parties, often try to take advantage of claimants by alt textclaiming that a portion of the fault for a collision was attributable to someone else. Determining liability and fault can be confusing and involves understanding and interpreting Washington case law and statutes. It is important to not let insurance companies take advantage of you by trying to convince you to settle for less than a fair amount.

Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer

If you find yourself in a situation where the insurance adjuster is trying to argue that you should accept less money than you believe you are entitled to because of an argument that some other party is at fault; you should talk to an experienced personal injury attorney to make sure that your rights are protected and that you are being treated fairly.

Subrogation and your Personal Injury Auto Claim - PIP Insurance

Posted Saturday, August 18, 2012 by Chris Thayer

There are entire books written on the concept of subrogation, and I am not going to attempt to cover all aspects or go into extensive detail. I will try to explain at least the basics, as it relates to a typical car accident personal injury claim where your medical expenses are paid for out of your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage.

alt textThe average person has probably never taken a close look and really read all the details of their auto insurance policy. If you did, you would come across a section entitled “subrogation” relating to your PIP insurance. Your PIP insurance (assuming you have not expressly waived this coverage when you purchased your policy) provides that the insurer will pay for all medical expenses that are reasonable, necessary and related (i.e., caused by) the collision - regardless of fault.

If you pursue a claim against the at fault party for personal injuries. A portion of your claim involves the medical expenses for treatment received, which were previously paid by your PIP insurer. To the extent you obtain a recovery from the third party’s insurer, your own insurance company has the right to at least partial reimbursement for the payment of medical expenses. This is subrogation. There are exceptions and there are situations where your PIP insurer is not entitled to be reimbursed for any payments. In Washington, if you have had to hire an attorney to help you with your claim, the insurer is normally required to reduce its subrogation claim to reflect the fact the proportionate share of attorneys’ fees and costs that you have incurred. The theory is that the PIP insurer should not get a “free ride” and get all of its money back, since the only reason they received the payment is because the claimant retained an attorney.

The intricacies and exceptions to subrogation are just too complicated to try to explain here in short form and on this public forum. But, if you want some help getting to sleep tonight, pull out your auto insurance policy and read through it. You will find many interesting clauses - and limitations - that you probably never knew were there, including a subrogation clause.