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

How do insurance companies calculated personal injury awards?

Posted Monday, July 16, 2012 by Chris Thayer

How do insurance companies come up with their settlement offers for personal injury claims? We don’t always know, exactly, but there are a few factors that are almost always considered. As this blog is public, it is not an appropriate place to discuss certain issues, but I can note break down some key points. For a more in-depth review of your case and specific answers to the valuation of your particular case, you should contact an attorney experienced in handling car accident claims.

Factors which effect an insurance company’s evaluation of your personal injury claim:

  1. severity of impact/collision and damage done to vehicles - Even modest impacts can cause serious injuries, but insurance companies are very reluctant to make any significant settlement offers for low-speed collisions that cause very little damage to the vehicles. The reality is that you are made of flesh and bone, not metal and energy absorbing plastic like a car, but insurance companies frequenlty latch on to low speed collisions and decline to make reasonable settlement offers.
  2. nature and severity of injury - a clear diagnosis is helpful, and vague “sprain/strain” injuries that go unresolved for a long period will not be assigned a significant value by insurance companies. Insurance companies put these in the category of “soft tissue” injuries. Cases involving injuries that require surgical repair or clear objective changes on imaging will be valued higher.
  3. duration of any disability - As noted in prior blog entry, any wage loss or time off of work should be authorized by your physician. If you are unable to work or unable to engage in certain activities, this must be documented with your healthcare providers. If you miss 2-3 days of work and “tough it out” even though you are in pain, the insurance company may view this as an indication that you are not really seriously injured. On the converse, if you miss an extensive amount of work that appears to be disproportionate to your injuries and symptoms, the insurance companies will view this as “malingering”. There is a balance to be reached. In the end, you need to let your healthcare providers and your body be the judge of what activities you can and should engage in. Don’t take more time off to try to bolster the value of your claim; but don’t tough it out when perhaps a few days or weeks of rest might help you recover.
  4. future medical expense - if the need for future medical expense, including possible surgical intervention can be confirmed by your healthcare providers, this affects the value of your claim.
  5. Nature and “appropriateness” of treatment received - as noted in prior blog entries, insurance companies will not be inclined to pay for treatment that appears to be merely “paliative” vs. “curative”. If a course of treatment does not appear to be improving your symptoms after a reasonable period of time, you should consider discussing with your healthcare providers other options.

Insurance companies are all about numbers and statistics. That is all you are to them. The adjuster will punch in data to the insurance company’s proprietry software, which will spit out a settlement range. The insurance company will consider a variety of factors (including all of the above), and assess its risk and th adjuster will push hard to try to get the case resolved in the low range. The insurance company does not care about how much the injuries may have affected your life; they only care about the bottom line - profit; and they make more profit by paying out the least amount of money on claims.

Do I have to give a recorded statement to the insurance company?

Posted Monday, July 9, 2012 by Chris Thayer

If you are involved in a car accident, it is likely you will be contacted by your insurance company and the at-fault party’s insurance company (this is, of course, assuming you are not the one at fault). It is quite common for the insurance adjuster to request to want to interview you on the telephone shortly after the collision and to record the conversation.

Are you obligated to talk to the insurance adjusters and provide a recorded statement? Yes and no. YES - As to your own insurer with regards to your PIP coverage, your policy likely contains a “cooperation” clause providing that you must cooperate with your insurer’s investigation of any claim. Note that you are entitled to a copy of this statement and should as a matter of course, request a copy at the completion of any interview. NO - you are not required (and should not) talk to the at fault insurance carrier’s adjuster. You do not need to give a recorded statement to the at fault insurer’s adjuster. Keep in mind that the purpose of such a recorded statement is to find out information to be used to minimize the value of your claim. If you have already given a statement, you have a right to a copy and should make this request in writing. Note, you are also not required to fill out any paperwork or sign any medical records release for the at fault insurer either.

This process can be a bit confusing. You need to keep in mind that, although you have an obligation to cooperate and be honest with your own insurer, that insurance companies make a profit by paying the least amount possible on claims. It is a good idea to consult with an experienced Seattle car accident personal injury attorney

Facts about your car insurance

Posted Friday, July 6, 2012 by Chris Thayer

Facts about your car insurance - 12 Things Your Auto Insurer Won’t Tell You

I have been in a car accident, do I really need to hire a Personal Injury Attorney?

Posted Monday, July 2, 2012 by Chris Thayer

I think this is a real world question that people face every day. The “stock” answer that you frequently hear is that insurance companies have attorneys so therefore you should as well. I think this is an incomplete answer. Does every person involved in a motor vehicle accident need to hire a lawyer? Absolutely not.

Certainly if there are no injuries and the only real issue is dealing with the property damage, in most instances it will not be necessary to retain an attorney. If your injuries are quite minor and resolve quickly, then it is often not economical to retain a personal injury attorney. This is because, in most instances, personal injury matters are handled on a contingent fee basis - meaning that the attorneys’ fees are paid out of the gross recovery (vs. paying by the hour). If you have a case that is only worth a couple of thousand dollars (or less), you will need to consider carefully whether or not the ecomics make sense for you. In many (if not most) cases, an experienced personal injury attorney can increase and maximize the value of your claim. However, the attorney also needs to get paid and it may be in some very modest cases, that the gain in the increased settlement value is offset by the fees that have to be paid (as well as some costs).

But, and this is an important point, just because it may not make sense to hire a personal injury attorney, doesnt’ mean you should not at least talk with one early on. I will talk with prosepective clients and provide an initial free consultation. You can learn some basic insights into your claim, what to expect and some tips on dealign with the insurance companies. This information can help you decide whether or not, in your particular instance, it makes sense to hire an attorney.

If you have suffered significant injuries in a car accident, you owe it to yourself (to ensure you make informed decisions) to get more information about the process and your rights. Do keep in mind that insurance adjusters deal with thousands of claims, and their goal, whether stated or not, is to pay you the least amount possible. Insurance companies are for profit entities, and the less that is paid out on claims, the more profit they can make. Before you decide whether or not to try to handle your personal injury claim on your own, I would highly recommend you contact an experienced personal injury attorney for an initial free consultation so that you can make a properly informed decision.

What to expect from your Personal Injury Deposition - Part II

Posted Thursday, June 28, 2012 by Chris Thayer

As noted in a previous blog entry on this topic, this public blog is not the appropriate place to include detailed legal advice. Before proceeding with your deposition, you will want to meet with your lawyer and review your specific case in person. However, I can provide a few more basic tips to consider that can help you get through your deposition.

BROAD SCOPE OF QUESTIONS. In what is known as the “discovery” phase of a personal injury lawsuit, the parties are allowed to request and obtain a broad range of information. Some of this information may seem entirely irrelevant to your case. Often it will feel like an unreasonable invasion of your privacy and your personal information. Keep in mind two things: (1) just because this information is “discoverable” does not mean it is admissible evidence that will be allowed in at trial; and (2) some attorneys workign for insurance companies deliberately try to embarass you and make you feel uncomfortable - in an effort to dissuade you from pursuing your case. Don’t give in. At your deposition you can expect a broad range of questions about your background. This may delve into personal issues that you woudl rather not discuss with “strangers”. Discuss these issues with your attorney in advance so you can decide how to deal with them. Be honest and don’t be intimidated.

For many of my personal injury clients I will seek entry of a Protective Order, that will help ensure that their private and personal information is maintained as confidential - and preventing the insurance company from sharing this information outside of the lawsuit.

ANSWER THE QUESTION THAT IS ASKED. It is easy to get caught up in the flow of a deposition and get ahead of yourself. This sounds like obvious advice, but it is harder than you think: be careful to answer the specific question that is asked; not the question you think the insurance defense attorney should ask or is trying to ask. This is not a conversation. It is important to listen carefully to the question before answering. If you don’t understand the question, you have the right to ask for clarification or to have the question restated. There is absolutely nothing wrong with stating “I don’t understand your question, could you rephrase that for me please?” This is an issue that you should discuss with your attorney prior to your deposition.