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

The Five Kinds of Driving Impairment

Posted Friday, January 6, 2023 by Chris Thayer

Frequently, the chain of events that leads to a car crash begins before drivers slide behind the wheels of their vehicles. Driver impairment causes about half of the fatal and serious injury car crashes in Washington.

Arguably, these motorists intentionally disregard known risks when they choose to drive while impaired. Therefore, a Renton personal injury attorney can often obtain additional compensation in these matters. This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Financial compensation doesn’t alter the past. But it does make the future a little brighter for car accident victims.

*Drugs*Marijuana is, by far, the leading cause of “stoned driving” wrecks in King County. Marijuana consumption may be legal in Washington, at least in most instances. However, it’s illegal and dangerous to drive under the influence of this or any other drug, whether that drug is legal or illegal to use.

Impairing effects of marijuana and other drugs include slow reflexes and impaired judgment. These qualities may be desirable in many situations. Operating heavy machinery, like a motor vehicle, is not one of these situations.

Speaking of illegal marijuana consumption, driving under the influence of marijuana or another substance usually violates Washington’s DUI law. Tortfeasors (negligent drivers) who break safety laws and cause wrecks could be liable for damages as a matter of law. Sometimes, marijuana users are impaired but not legally intoxicated. A Renton personal injury attorney can use circumstantial evidence to establish illegal impairment and obtain compensation.

*Alcohol*Similarly, both direct and circumstantial evidence is admissible in alcohol-related crash claims. The circumstantial evidence is much the same in both stoned and drunk driving cases. This evidence includes:

  • Erratic driving before the wreck,
  • Bloodshot eyes,
  • Unsteady balance,
  • Slurred speech,
  • Odor of alcohol, and
  • Tortfeasor’s statements about alcohol or drug use.

Legally, alcohol-related wrecks often have an additional dimension. Washington’s dram shop law usually applies in these situations. Restaurants, bars, and other commercial providers who knowingly sell alcohol to intoxicated individuals could be vicariously liable for damages if the crash was a foreseeable consequence of the illegal sale.

Sometimes, foreseeability is hard to prove in packaged alcohol sales. However, it’s usually foreseeable that a drunk person will open a beer and have a few sips on the way home.

*Fatigue*Scientifically, fatigue is much like alcohol or drug use. Driving after 18 consecutive awake hours is like driving with a .05 BAC level. That is above the legal limit for many Washington drivers.

Sleepy individuals cannot think well or act quickly. The combination of judgment impairment and slow reflexes often causes car crashes. Furthermore, there’s no quick fix for intoxication, impairment, or fatigue. Only time cures alcohol or drug impairment or intoxication, and only sleep cures fatigue. Quick fixes, like drinking coffee or blasting the radio, make these drivers feel more alert, at least for a few minutes. But these shortcuts do nothing to address the underlying effects of these conditions.***Medical Condition*Many people drive even though they have a serious medical condition that could cause a sudden loss of consciousness. These conditions include epilepsy, heart disease, and diabetes. These drivers obviously breach their duty of care. The risk of causing a crash is much too high.

Even more people drive with moderate illnesses, like colds or flu. Sneezing, coughing, watery eyes, and other such symptoms could reduce driving skills by as much as 50%.

*Distraction*Device distraction gets most of the attention in this area. Cell phones combine all three forms of distracted driving. These users take their minds off driving (cognitive), take their eyes off the road (visual), and take a hand off the wheel (manual).

Non-device distraction is almost as bad and much more common. For example, people routinely eat or drink while driving. This behavior is also cognitively, visually, and manually distracting, at least to a large extent.

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

How Much Money Can I Get for a Left Turn Motorcycle Accident in Kent?

Posted Friday, December 30, 2022 by Chris Thayer

According to the landmark Hurt Report, left-turn collisions make up about two-thirds of all multi-vehicle collisions that involve motorcycles. In the wake of such wrecks, many tortfeasors (negligent drivers) say things like “He came out of nowhere” or “I never saw her.” These tortfeasors hope to shift the blame for these crashes to motorcycle riders. Instead, they are basically admitting that they didn’t maintain a proper lookout and were therefore negligent.

When driver negligence causes wrecks, a Kent personal injury attorney can obtain substantial compensation in court. These victims and survivors need and deserve this money so they can pay accident-related bills and move on with their lives. More importantly, legal actions force negligent drivers to take responsibility for their mistakes. We all make mistakes, and we should all face the music after we make mistakes. If tortfeasors shift the blame to victims, nothing changes, and nothing gets better.

*What Causes Left Turn Crashes?*Most left-turn wrecks happen as a tortfeasor waits to make an unprotected left turn against traffic, usually at a traffic light or while pulling out of a parking lot. Frequently, tortfeasors do not see small motorcycles in a sea of large vehicles, like pickup trucks and SUVs. When tortfeasors think they see traffic gaps, they quickly accelerate and turn, thus striking an oncoming raider at almost top speed.

Tortfeasors are not lying when they say they did not see approaching riders. The simple fact is that the tortfeasor was not looking. Specific reasons for not looking include:

  • Driver Impairment: Substances, like alcohol, impair judgment. So, these tortfeasors often misjudge the distances between themselves and approaching motorcycles. Excessive fatigue has the same effect on people. Flus and other mild or moderate illnesses also reduce driving ability and, specifically, the ability to survey the road.
  • Aggressive Driving: Many tortfeasors approach left turns with an “I can make it” attitude. This attitude surfaces when drivers foolishly try to out-race trains at railroad crossings. In those instances, this attitude often gets them killed. In left-turn motorcycle crashes, this attitude often kills someone else.

Some form of driver error causes over 98% of vehicle collisions in Washington. This error is usually negligence, or a lack of care.

Legal *Options*Drivers who fail to yield the right of way to other motorists, motorcycle riders, pedestrians, or anyone else on the road violate Washington traffic laws. This violation could mean the tortfeasor is liable for damages as a matter of law. The statute establishes the standard of care. An unexcused violation of this law means the driver clearly fell short of this standard, no ifs, ands, or buts.

However, for one reason or another, emergency responders often don’t cite drivers in these crashes, even after a fatal accident.

Therefore, most Kent personal injury lawyers use the ordinary negligence doctrine to obtain compensation and justice.

Most drivers have a duty of reasonable care. They must avoid accidents if at all possible. Impaired or aggressive driving clearly violates this standard of care. If that violation caused injury, the tortfeasor is liable for damages.

Especially in ordinary negligence cases, some defenses, such as comparative fault, could apply. Basically, comparative fault legally shifts blame for accidents the way tortfeasors try to shift blame with “I never saw you” comments.

Comparative fault is not a complete defense, at least in most cases. Instead, even if the victim was 99% responsible for the wreck, the tortfeasor must still pay a proportionate share of damages.

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

Outlining a Slip-and-Fall Claim in Bellevue

Posted Friday, December 23, 2022 by Chris Thayer

Government healthcare programs, mostly Medicare and Medicaid, cover most of the $50 billion annual cost of fall injury-related medical bills. In other words, taxpayers cover most fall injury-related medical bills. Most government healthcare programs treat falls like all other medical conditions. The program pays the bills, usually without asking any questions. Therefore, many of these victims do not file legal claims.

That lack of effort is a mistake, not only because victims are not compensated for their noneconomic losses but also because this inaction forces taxpayers to pay for property owner negligence. Fundamentally, a Bellevue personal injury attorney does not file a legal claim to get money. Instead, a lawyer files a legal claim to force tortfeasors (negligent actors) to accept responsibility for their mistakes. That is why an attorney tries so hard to settle claims before filing a legal action. If the insurance company does the right thing, there is no need to take that extra step.

*Starting a Case*To build a solid damages claim, a Bellevue personal injury attorney must establish a prima facie (basic) case and anticipate some common insurance company defenses.

A negligence claim begins with a legal duty. In Washington, the owner’s legal duty varies, mostly according to the owner’s relationship with the victim:

  • Invitee: Almost all business and social guests are invitees. They have permission to visit the house or building. They also benefit the owner. Businesses benefit from foot traffic, even if the customer does not buy anything. Social hosts receive the benefit of social interaction. Owners usually have a duty of reasonable care to keep their properties reasonably safe in these situations.
  • Licensee: Some visitors have permission to be on the property, but they do not benefit the owner. Children who cut across parking lots as they walk to and from school are licensees. Since the relationship is not as close, the duty is not as broad. Most owners only have a duty to inform licensees about possible injury hazards. The owner does not have a duty to remedy the hazard.
  • Trespasser: A few victims are trespassers. These individuals have no permission, and there is no benefit. Therefore, owners usually have no legal responsibilities other than to refrain from intentionally harming a trespasser. Stories of injured burglars who win money from homeowners are mostly urban legends.

These cases are more complex if a victim starts in one category and ends in another. For example, Jim the Rapscallion is an invitee at Best Buy when he walks in the door. He becomes a trespasser if he shoplifts an item.

Additionally, a Bellevue personal injury attorney must prove, by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not), that the owner knew, or should have known, about the injury-causing hazard.

Finally, the victim must prove the owner’s negligence caused the fall. Washington has a broad res ipsa loquitur (the thing speaks for itself) rule. Jurors may usually presume owner negligence caused a fall, even if no one saw the incident.

*Anticipating Defenses*Comparative fault and assumption of the risk are the two most common slip-and-fall defenses in Washington. In most cases, these two defenses work the same way.

Essentially, contributory negligence shifts blame for an accident from the tortfeasor to the victim. Many fall injury victims are careless about where they walk. If that’s true, jurors must evaluate the evidence and divide responsibility 50-50, 80-20, or on another percentage basis.

Washington is a pure comparative fault state. Even if the victim is 99% responsible for the fall, the tortfeasor must still pay a proportionate share of damages.

Usually, assumption of the risk, a defense that may involve a “Caution Wet Floor” or other warning sign, works the same way. However, if the assumption of the risk is contractual, usually in a written waiver, assumption of the risk may be a complete defense. Usually, however, these waivers are not enforceable contracts.

*Reach Out to 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.

How Do I Find the Best Issaquah Car Accident Lawyer?

Posted Friday, December 16, 2022 by Chris Thayer

Car accident victims have many choices. Washington has one of the highest number of lawyers per capita in the United States. Almost all lawyers take a fundamental tort (personal injury) class in law school. Additionally, the bar exam covers this topic. So, all lawyers have some basic skills in this area. However, there is usually no such thing as a “simple” car crash claim. Therefore, your attorney needs advanced skills that only some lawyers possess.

Liability issues usually complicate car accident claims. Most insurance companies either deny responsibility altogether or try to convince victims to settle their cases for pennies on the dollar. Additionally, many car crash cases involve advanced legal theories, like negligent entrustment owner liability and respondeat superior employer liability. Soft skills are necessary, as well. Most car crash victims just had their lives completely uprooted. Only a few Issaquah car accident lawyers have what it takes to successfully resolve your injury claim.

*Experience*Law school classes teach students how to think like lawyers. Standardized tests confirm this ability. Only experience teaches people to act like lawyers.

All courts have their own rules of evidence and procedure. Many of these rules are unwritten. Your vehicle collision claim is far too valuable to be a training tool for an inexperienced lawyer.

This experience should include a successful track record. A losing college basketball team that returns all five starters is experienced, but it is only experienced in losing. Likewise, a veteran lawyer without a successful track record is only experienced in taking the easy way out.

Additionally, this experience should include trial experience, even though almost all cases settle out of court. If the insurance company knows an Issaquah personal injury lawyer is unwilling to go the distance, the insurance company makes lower settlement offers, and clients suffer.

*Dedication*Many lawyers handle a few personal injury cases on the side, mostly for friends, former clients, or family members. Lack of dedication is often a serious issue in these cases.

The late Grant Cooper, who represented RFK assassin Sirhan Sirhan in the late 1960s, is a good example. Cooper was a well-established lawyer. However, he was a general practice attorney as opposed to a dedicated criminal defense lawyer. As a result, he may have overlooked some subtle weaknesses in the state’s case, like the inconsistencies between eyewitness statements and the autopsy report.

Incidentally, Cooper is at the center of one of the latest Kennedy conspiracy theories. Supposedly, Cooper intentionally threw the case so the Los Angeles County District Attorney would not indict him on charges stemming from an unrelated matter. But, as all the principles involved are dead, we will probably never know if that allegation is true.

*Accessibility*Many car crash victims work with very large firms, reasoning that these firms have the resources to take on large insurance companies. The lawyers at these firms often delegate most of the work to less experienced associates or even non-lawyer paralegals.

Size is not everything. David took out Goliath, mostly because he had right on his side. Similarly, a personal injury attorney has a cause. A car wreck is not just a financial statistic.

Nevertheless, David has five rocks and a slingshot. So, a lawyer must have resources like professional and paraprofessional assistants. Thus, if your lawyer always personally answers your phone calls on the first or second ring, that’s usually a bad sign.

*Count on an Experienced 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 have no insurance or money.

What are the Most Commonly Misdiagnosed Illnesses in Mercer Island?

Posted Friday, December 9, 2022 by Chris Thayer

A solid medical diagnosis is based on solid evidence. Frequently, doctors do not have the evidence they need. Doctors often do not run a full array of diagnostic tests, mostly because they do not want to do the insurance paperwork. On a related note, doctors often over-delegate test interpretation to nurses and other less-qualified professionals. Many doctors also do not know enough about patient symptoms. The average doctor only listens to the average patient for eleven seconds.

Doctors have a very high duty of care in Washington. This duty includes a responsibility to collect as much evidence as possible and base a diagnosis on this evidence. Doctors cannot rely on their instincts or even their professional training and experience. If a lack of care causes misdiagnosis, a Mercer Island personal injury attorney can obtain compensation in court. This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Additional punitive damages are also available in many of these cases.

*Head Injuries*Doctors frequently rely on signature symptoms to diagnose injuries, especially in busy emergency rooms. Head injury signature symptoms usually include vomiting and unconsciousness. Most head injury victims are not vomiting and unconscious in examining rooms. So, doctors must listen to patients to uncover these symptoms, and as mentioned, most doctors do not listen too well.

On a related note, many heart attack victims do not have signature symptoms, such as severe chest pain. So, doctors must rely on diagnostic tests, and also as mentioned, accurate test results are often unavailable.

Furthermore, trauma is not the only cause of a Traumatic Brain Injury. Motion and a sudden loud noise could cause TBIs as well.

The brain is not the same size as the skull. Instead, the brain is about as big as two clenched fists. So, when people fall, even if they do not land hard, their brains slam against the insides of their skulls. The same thing is true for many car crash victims.

Sudden loud noises cause shock waves which disrupt brain functions. Many Iraq and Afghanistan, and other Southwest Asia veterans with head injuries were hurt in this way.

*Cancer*Pain is the initial signature cancer symptom. Many things, other than cancer, cause chronic pain and fatigue.

Additionally, as far as many doctors are concerned, cancer is a genetic or lifestyle condition unless they have enough evidence to suggest otherwise. Quite frankly, many doctors simply do not bother to collect evidence.

Furthermore, a doctor may accurately diagnose cancer but misdiagnose the type and location of cancer. Many cancers are relatively easy to manage. They are almost like diabetes. Other cancers are much more aggressive, so the treatment must be equally aggressive. Improper treatment is like no treatment.

*Autoimmune Diseases*In terms of diagnosis issues, many autoimmune diseases are like cancer. Various musculoskeletal and autoimmune diseases affect different people differently. These different diseases also have different treatments. If a doctor says the patient has the wrong disease, any treatments that the doctor prescribes may be essentially useless.

*Count on an Experienced 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 without insurance or money.