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

Breaking Down a Burien Nursing Home Fall Claim

Posted Friday, February 10, 2023 by Chris Thayer

Falls send many older people to nursing homes and force them to stay there longer than expected. Falls account for about 40% of nursing home admissions. 60% of nursing home residents sustain a serious fall every year. Our world moves so fast that people with visual or mobility impairments usually get left behind. Furthermore, many nursing homes are so understaffed that there’s no one to keep residents safe at all times.

Society and nursing home owners may not give older people proper respect, but a Burien personal injury attorney treats everyone with equal respect. This treatment includes fighting hard to obtain maximum compensation, regardless of the odds or circumstances. This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.

Ol*der Adult Injuries*Falls happen inside and outside of nursing homes. Falls also cause physical and emotional injuries.

Broken bones may be the most common and severe fall injuries. Many older adults have pre-existing physical conditions, like arthritis. Furthermore, these pre-existing conditions make these victims more vulnerable to serious complications. Therefore, what would be a few weeks in a cast for a younger person could mean a few weeks in the hospital for an older person.

A Burien personal injury attorney can usually obtain maximum compensation in these situations. People should not treat other people differently because they are physically vulnerable. Legally, insurance companies cannot treat vulnerable people differently than anyone else.

Broken bones usually heal, at least for the most part, given enough time and proper treatment. Emotional fall injuries, on the other hand, usually never heal.

These two injuries feed off each other. Broken bones are extremely painful. Therefore, many older adults are so afraid of falling again that they become sedentary. This lifestyle increases the risk of another fall, and the downward spiral continues.

This spiral usually ends with permanent full-time care. Most older adult fall victims cannot ever live independently again.

*Liability Issues*Nursing home owners are liable for fall damages if they had a duty of care to keep the victim safe, and they knew, or should have known, about the injury-causing hazard.

Washington law divides victims into categories to determine the duty of care. Nursing home residents are invitees, which is the highest category. Invitees have permission to be on the land, and their presence benefits the owners. So, nursing home owners must remove or otherwise address injury hazards.

Direct evidence of actual knowledge includes a prior fall related to that hazard and a cleaning report. Circumstantial evidence of constructive knowledge (should have known) follows the time-notice rule.

Several effective defenses are available in fall injury claims. These defenses are less effective if the victim is over 65.

Assumption of the risk is a good example. As a temporary remedy, owners can deploy warning signs, like “Caution Wet Floor.” Frequently, older adults cannot see these signs very well, especially if the lights are low.

On a related note, many older adults have gait disorders. They shuffle their feet when they walk. So, when these individuals trip, they cannot regain their balance and usually fall, even if the hazard is not severe.

*Count on a Tough-Minded King County Attorney*Injury victims are entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Burien, contact Pivotal Law Group, PLLC. You have a limited amount of time to act.

If a U-Haul Driver Hits Me in Burien, Can I Sue the Company?

Posted Friday, February 3, 2023 by Chris Thayer

The answer to this question is unclear. State law is uncertain on this point. According to a 1943 case, owners are responsible for car crash damages if there is a valid contract between the owner and driver. U-Haul rentals could meet this standard, especially if the lease agreement contained provisions about what the renter could and couldn’t do while behind the wheel. The 2005 Graves Amendment, which is outlined below, runs contrary to this court decision. This law makes it impossible to sue some vehicle owners for negligence if they rent vehicles to people who cause crashes.

The answer to this question is also critical. A fully-loaded U-Haul moving truck weighs over 14,000 pounds. Under other circumstances, most renters aren’t legally qualified to operate such vehicles. Additionally, most renters decline the additional insurance add-on, which means they are dangerously underinsured. So, the possibility of a serious wreck is high, and the likelihood of obtaining maximum compensation from the renter is low.

A Burien personal injury attorney must assume the worst and expect the court to enforce the Graves Amendment instead of the ancient Poutre v. Saunders decision. Fortunately, the brief Graves Amendment, which was a policy rider to a large transportation bill, has some major flaws. Attorneys who know how to exploit these flaws usually obtain maximum compensation for seriously-injured victims.

*Not Otherwise Negligent*Before we dive into this Graves Amendment requirement, let’s take a moment to define “negligence” in this context.

Owners are negligent if they knowingly allow incompetent operators to borrow, or lease, their motor vehicles. People without valid driver’s licenses are usually incompetent as a matter of law, regardless of how much experience they have behind the wheel.

U-Haul and other owners are immune from liability lawsuits if they, or their employees, were not otherwise negligent in the rental transaction at issue.

Back in 2005, owners and clerks had no efficient and cost-effective way to verify a renter’s driver’s license other than a visual inspection. So, there was no way to tell if the renter’s license was suspended.

Technology has advanced by leaps and bounds over the last twenty years. Anyone with an internet connection can verify a license for just a few dollars. The failure to do so violates industry standards in the vehicle rental industry. Violating standards is evidence of negligence.

On a related note, people with bad driving records that include recent safety suspensions or at-fault collisions might also be incompetent operators under Washington law.

*Vehicle Rental Trade or Business*Additionally, Graves Amendment immunity only applies to companies that are in the trade or business of renting vehicles. A company may rent trucks, but that does not mean it is a truck rental company.

Beer and wine sales are, by far, the biggest moneymaker for most convenience stores. Yet these establishments are convenience stores, not liquor stores. By the same token, most U-Haul outlets rent trucks, sell moving supplies, and rent storage units.

So, a Burien personal injury attorney can argue that even if truck rentals generate most of their income, these outlets are moving service companies, not vehicle rental companies. That designation makes Graves Amendment immunity inapplicable.

*Work With a Diligent King County Attorney*Injury victims are entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Burien, contact Pivotal Law Group, PLLC. We have several offices in Washington State.

Surgical Mistakes in Mercer Island

Posted Friday, January 27, 2023 by Chris Thayer

Most surgeons are very busy. They generally perform up to eight procedures a day. They have little time to review files and patient histories before procedures, especially for surgeons that treat trauma patients in busy emergency rooms. Surgeons also often take shortcuts during and after the procedure to treat as many patients as possible and make as much money as possible.

Doctors have a fiduciary duty. They must set aside work-life balance, financial considerations, and all other priorities and only do what is best for their patients. The high standard of care makes it easier for a Mercer Island personal injury attorney to establish negligence, or a lack of care. If negligence causes injury, the victim is usually entitled to substantial compensatory damages, as well as punitive damages in some cases.

*Before*A few patients have long-term relationships with their surgeons. But these relationships are few and far between. Most people frequently relocate, which means they usually change doctors often. Additionally, most people choose a doctor off an insurance company list, and these lists typically change every year. Finally, many surgeons are specialists whom a general practice doctor connected with a particular patient.

In other words, many surgeons know little or nothing about the patients on whom they are operating. As mentioned, surgeons have a duty of care to learn not only the information in the file, but also some things about the patient from a personal standpoint, such as the patient’s needs and goals in a particular situation.

If students do not do their homework, they generally do badly on their tests. Likewise, when surgeons don’t take the time required to do things right during pre-surgery, the results often suffer.

*During*Unwillingness to take time to do things right also affects the surgery itself. A brief, pre-procedure huddle gets the entire surgical team on the same page and enables everyone to relax for a few moments and focus on the task ahead. But many doctors are simply too busy.

Likewise, a brief, post-procedure instrument check would eliminate RSI, or retained surgical instruments. Frequently, patients do not discover these mistakes for several months or even longer.

On a related note, instrument sterilization could cause injury as well. The team usually superheats instruments to sterilize them. Too hot, and they cause burns. Not hot enough, and bacteria survive on the instrument and enter the patient’s vulnerable body.

*After*Once patients enter recovery rooms, many surgical teams let down their guard ever so slightly. That slight letdown often causes serious injury.

Hospitals are basically breeding grounds for bacteria. Infections, like sepsis, set in quickly and get much worse quickly. A slightly delayed reaction could literally be fatal.

Once again, on a related note, a defective product could cause a hospital infection. To keep surgical teams on their toes, most hospitals are cold. So, a warm blanket feels good to most patients. These blankets often use air pumps that suck dirty air from near the floor and superheat it. Once again, bacteria go directly to an open wound or another vulnerable part of a patient’s body.

*Work 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 have several offices in Washington State.

Top Five (or Bottom Five) Car Wreck Injuries in Issaquah

Posted Friday, January 20, 2023 by Chris Thayer

The average financial cost of a catastrophic (life-threatening) car crash injury is over $100,000. This figure typically includes emergency medical care, follow-up care, physical therapy, medical devices, and other ancillary expenses. The actual injuries are usually one or more of the injuries discussed below.

An Issaquah personal injury attorney can obtain compensation for these medical bills and other economic losses, such as lost wages and property damage. Attorneys also obtain compensation for noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. The bottom line is that these victims need money to put their lives back together. The driver who was legally responsible for the wreck is also financially responsible for it.

*Broken Bones*During a crash, a victim’s arms and legs can flail wildly against a dashboard or another solid object. Therefore, broken arm and leg bones are very common in car wrecks. But these injuries are more than run-of-the-mill playground injury broken bones.

Typically, the force of a collision crushes these bones. Therefore, doctors must use metal parts to reconstruct them surgically. The more aggressive treatment on the front end means longer and more difficult physical therapy on the back end. These costs add up.

Furthermore, car crash-related broken bones are often permanent injuries. For example, after a victim’s broken shoulder heals, s/he may lose some range of motion in that shoulder.

*Internal Injuries*The same force that smashes bones causes internal organs to smash against each other, causing minor lacerations. These small lacerations usually bleed badly since internal organs have no protective skin layers.

This internal bleeding is hard to spot and even harder to stop. Therefore, by the time many victims reach hospitals, they are already on the edge of hypovolemic shock and organ shutdown.

*Head Injuries*Seatbelts and airbags reduce the risk of head injuries. But they do not eliminate this risk. Victims who slam their heads into airbags might as well slam their heads into walls with only pillows for protection.

As the name implies, brain surgery is very delicate and complicated. Many surgeons aren’t qualified to perform these procedures. Even if they do have the proper credentials, there are no guarantees of success.

Issues continue during physical therapy. Brain injury PT is slow and laborious since victims must often learn to walk, eat, and do almost everything again. Furthermore, progress comes in fits and starts instead of a straight line.

*Serious Lacerations*Like broken bones and head injuries, serious skin lacerations usually never entirely heal. The physical scars remain, as do the emotional scars.

*Neck Injuries*Whiplash is a motion-related head-neck injury that does not appear on most diagnostic tests. The motion of a wreck damages the nerves in the cervical spine. What begins as a pain in the shoulders could eventually cause paralysis. Because neck soreness is also a symptom of accident shock, whiplash, like so many other car crash injuries, is often misdiagnosed by doctors.

An Issaquah personal injury attorney connects victims with doctors who know how to diagnose whiplash, head injuries, and other car wreck-related conditions. So, victims immediately get the treatment they need.

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

If I am Hurt in a Fall in Bellevue, Do I Automatically Get a Settlement?

Posted Friday, January 13, 2023 by Chris Thayer

Every fall injury victim needs a settlement. That much is certain. The annual medical costs alone for falls and other personal injuries exceed $325 billion. Other economic losses include property damage and lost work. These victims also deserve compensation for their pain and suffering, emotional distress, and other noneconomic losses. However, not every fall victim is guaranteed a settlement.

Instead, a Bellevue personal injury lawyer must diligently build a strong case from the ground up. But even that is not enough. An attorney must also anticipate some common insurance company defenses and be ready to refute them in court. Only a lawyer who is ready, willing, and able to go the extra mile can obtain maximum compensation for your serious injuries.

*Lack of Evidence*A fall is often a no-witness case. No one, except the victim, can testify about the circumstances of the fall. The victim’s testimony is often biased. Our minds are not video cameras. We remember things selectively. Additionally, many fall victims sustained head injuries. These injuries often impair memory and further undermine credibility.

Additional evidence is usually available in these situations. Chances are, especially if the fall happened in a grocery store or other public place, somebody saw something. Even if the witness did not see the fall, the witness could testify about the hazard that caused the fall.

Furthermore, a Bellevue personal injury lawyer often uses an obscure legal doctrine called res ipsa loquitur (the thing speaks for itself) to reduce the amount of evidence needed to prove negligence. In some cases, jurors may presume that negligence caused a fall or other personal injury.

The burden of proof is already low. A victim/plaintiff must only establish negligence, or a lack of care, by a preponderance of the evidence, or more likely than not. A little evidence goes a long way.

*Comparative Fault*The most common affirmative defense in fall injury claims comes in several forms. One or more forms may be available, depending on the facts of the case.

Sometimes, the open and obvious doctrine applies. Property owners are not legally responsible for personal injuries if an open and obvious hazard causes an injury.

This rule seems straightforward, but it usually isn’t. What may be an open and obvious hazard to some people is a concealed hazard to other people. Older adult victims are a good example. Many of these individuals do not see well, especially in low-light conditions.

A standard comparative fault defense asserts that the victim didn’t watch where s/he was going. A similar defense often applies in pedestrian accident claims. If there is evidence of joint responsibility, which in this case is a hazard and a failure to mind one’s surroundings, jurors must divide fault on a percentage basis, such as 50-50.

Washington is a pure comparative fault state. Even if the victim was 99% responsible for the injury, the tortfeasor (negligent party) must pay a proportionate share of damages.

A similar scheme generally applies if the owner posted a “Caution Wet Floor” or other warning sign in the area. First, the insurance company must prove the victim saw the sign, could read the sign and could understand its meaning. Second, the jury must divide fault on a percentage basis, as outlined above.

*Speak With a Thorough 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.