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

What Causes Truck Wrecks in Renton?

Posted Friday, October 7, 2022 by Chris Thayer

In one way or another, vehicle size causes most large truck wrecks in Renton. A fully-loaded large truck weighs over 80,000 pounds. This size magnifies aggressive driving and other errors. Little mistakes that noncommercial drivers get away with are usually negligence, or a lack of care. That is especially true since the duty of care is so high in truck wreck cases. Additionally, large trucks are so big that these drivers must bring every bit of their experience and skill to bear in every moment of every trip.

Vehicle size also complicates these claims. Truck crashes often cause catastrophic injuries, like spine injuries. The lifetime medical bills in such instances often exceed $5 million. Additionally, trucks are loaded with goods from another company. The company that owned these goods, or the shipping or transportation company which employed the driver, is financially responsible for damages, in most cases. Because of these additional dimensions, only the most experienced Renton truck wreck lawyer should handle these cases.

*Aggressive Driving* We mentioned aggressive driving above. Most companies pay most drivers by the trip and not by the hour. So, the faster they finish trips, the more money they make. Some examples of aggressive driving include:

  • Speeding: Excessive velocity multiplies the risk of a wreck and the force in a collision. Speed multiplies stopping distance. At speeds under 30mph, most vehicles stop almost as soon as drivers apply the brakes. At 60mph, these vehicles keep traveling forward for at least eighteen vehicle lengths.
  • Tailgating: The recommended stopping distance for passenger vehicles is about two seconds. For large trucks, the recommended following distance is about eight seconds. Many truckers overlook this requirement, especially on busy highways.
  • Changing Lanes Unsafely: A trucker often blames the other driver when the truck cuts off a car or truck. In some states, if both drivers were partially at fault, the victim may be eligible for compensation. But Washington is a pure comparative fault state. So, in most cases, multiple at-fault parties only reduces the victim’s compensation, at most.

As mentioned, Washington truck drivers have a higher duty of care. Therefore, there’s usually no such thing as an aggressive driving “accident.” Pretty much any excess velocity, tailgating, or anything else is negligence, or a lack of care.

*Impaired Driving* Some truck crashes start before the trucker gets behind the wheel. The aforementioned duty of care requires truckers to be at their best, mentally, physically, and otherwise, when they hit the road. Some kinds of impaired driving include:

  • Excessive Fatigue: Truckers are under so much pressure to make on-time deliveries that they often stay behind the wheel too long. That’s especially true since the government has recently watered down many HOS (hours of service) rules. Driving after 18 consecutive awake hours is like driving with a .05 BAC, which is above the legal limit for truckers in Washington.
  • Substance Abuse: Drug use and fatigue among truck drivers are connected. About half of truckers admit they use amphetamines while they drive. These drugs might make people feel more alert. But these drugs do nothing to address the effects of fatigue, such as poor judgment and slow motor skills. Furthermore, when these drugs wear off, users crash hard and fast.
  • Medical Condition: This form of impairment is often related to fatigue as well. Many truckers suffer from sleep apnea, mostly because they sit for such long periods. This condition closes the primary airway during sleep. Thus, people with sleep apnea nap all night instead of getting deep, restorative rest. So, they are fatigued the next morning, no matter how much rest they had that night.

Compensation in a truck crash case usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. A Renton personal injury lawyer can obtain additional punitive damages as well, in some extreme cases.

*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 Renton, contact Pivotal Law Group, PLLC. Virtual, home, and hospital visits are available.

When Do Surgical Mistakes Happen in Burien?

Posted Friday, September 30, 2022 by Chris Thayer

Each year, American doctors make about 4,000 surgical mistakes. That number does not sound large, but if you or a loved one was a surgical mistake victim, that statistical analysis is not much comfort. Additionally, as outlined below, this figure only includes the “during” surgical mistakes. It does not include before and after surgical mistakes.

Doctors have a very high duty of care in Washington. So, it is much easier for a Burien personal injury attorney to prove negligence, or a lack of care. If a doctor was negligent, compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Usually, the hospital, clinic, or another facility that employed the doctor, or gave the doctor a place to work, is financially responsible for these and any other damages.

*Before* The duty of care does not begin when a patient is on the operating table. Instead, it begins before the first office visit.

The doctor, and not someone on the medical staff, has a responsibility to thoroughly review patient records. Electronic patient records are the norm today. So, doctors no longer have an excuse not to thoroughly review every page.

On a related note, doctors cannot access patient records on home computers or over unsecured WiFi connections. Such online records are far too easy to tap into. The duty of care extends not only to the patient’s body, but also to personal information about the patient. A Burien personal injury attorney must normally file a separate action to enforce patient rights in this area.

If doctors spot red flags during these reviews, they cannot ignore them. Instead, they must adjust their treatment plans to account for the additional risk. Asking the patient to sign a stronger waiver is not enough. Dismissing the risk as “borderline” is not enough either.

*During* Many doctors take the time to properly review records and make proper responses. This same time crush continues in the operating room itself.

A brief, pre-surgical huddle would allow all team members to catch their breaths and get on the same page in terms of the procedure. Unfortunately, many doctors are unwilling to invest even a few seconds of their precious time to protect patient health and safety.

A post-surgical instrument count would have the same positive effect. It would be easy to count the instruments on the table and make sure that the number is the same as the pre-surgical number. However, once again, many doctors are too anxious to move on to the next patient and make more money.

On a related note, instrument sterilization issues cause many injuries as well. Typically, the team superheats instruments to sterilize them. Too hot, and they cause serious burns. Not hot enough, and not all the bacteria dies, causing infection.

*After* Speaking of infections, this risk goes up dramatically when patients go to recovery rooms. Despite the increased risk, many healthcare teams drop their guard slightly in these situations. Sepsis is the most dangerous hospital infection. Septic infections turn successful surgeries into life-threatening situations.

Serious infections usually develop quickly. Patients are fine one minute and seriously ill the next minute. So, surgical teams must be on their toes at all times.

*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 Burien, contact Pivotal Law Group, PLLC. Virtual, home, and hospital visits are available.

When You are in a Mercer Island Hospital, Does the HELPER Mnemonic Really Help?

Posted Friday, September 23, 2022 by Chris Thayer

SD (Shoulder Dystocia) is one of the most common labor and delivery complications in Washington. The baby’s shoulders are so large that the baby cannot naturally float down the mother’s narrow birth canal. About 2% of births involve SD emergencies. Most large King County hospitals handle several hundred births a day, which means several SD emergencies per day.

The consequences of these situations are swift and drastic. In less than five minutes, the baby’s umbilical cord restricts the flow of oxygen to the baby’s brain, causing cerebral palsy. The symptoms of this disease range from barely noticeable to completely debilitating. The good news is that CP is not degenerative, so it never gets worse. The bad news is that CP is not curable, so it usually never gets better.

If an SD emergency arises, the medical staff often relies on the HELPER mnemonic for guidance. However, as outlined below, this process often does more harm than good. If a doctor negligently injured a baby by not being prepared and/or reacting properly, a Mercer Island personal injury attorney can obtain substantial compensation in court. This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as future medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as overall pain and suffering.

*Call for Help* Some doctors do not call for help when they need it. They see such calls as admissions that they cannot handle the situation or that they did not prepare properly. No professional likes to admit to such things. Additionally, especially at smaller hospitals and at night, help may not be immediately available.

*Episiotomy Evaluation* Bad idea. Once upon a time, doctors administered episiotomies, or small incisions between the mother’s anus and genitals, to widen the birth canal, whether the mom needed them or not. In the late 2000s, the American Academy of Pediatrics advised doctors to discontinue this practice. The most recent and best evidence clearly shows that episiotomies caused excessive maternal bleeding and were not very effective. Therefore, this evaluation almost always ends up negative.

*Move Legs for the McRoberts Maneuver* This intervention should probably be at the top of the list. Simply repositioning the mother’s legs shifts the mother’s center of gravity, making it easier for the baby to float down. However, this maneuver is only effective about 80% of the time. So, if it fails and the medical team has not tried it before now, about two minutes have melted off the five-minute CP clock.

*Suprapubic Pressure* SP is a little like CPR, except that the doctor targets the mother’s abdomen instead of her chest. Basically, tries to push the baby down the mother’s birth canal. The possible adverse effects of CPR on people are well-documented, which is why this procedure is only a last resort. The possible adverse effects on babies are even worse. Unless you have been through the process yourself, it’s hard to imagine how small and fragile a newborn baby is. Any excess force causes permanent injury.

*Enter and Perform Rotational Maneuvers* If external and indirect pressure causes permanent injuries, internal and direct pressure is even more dangerous. Yet that is the next step in the HELPER process. The doctor reaches inside the mother and tries to pull the baby out. Many doctors use even more dangerous mechanical devices, like forceps, in this step. Forceps are essentially large salad tongs, which the doctor uses like a crowbar.

*Remove Posterior Arm* At this point, the five-minute clock is near zero, and most doctors are desperate. They reason that going through life with only one arm is better than going through life as a CP victim. They are probably right about that. However, if not for the doctor’s negligence, things never would have gotten to this point.

*Count on a Dedicated 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. Virtual, home, and hospital visits are available.

Gumshoe to GPS Evidence in Issaquah Car Crash Cases

Posted Friday, September 16, 2022 by Chris Thayer

To obtain compensation for their injuries, victims/plaintiffs must prove negligence, or a lack of care, by a preponderance of the evidence, or more likely than not. Insurance companies have a legal duty to turn over all evidence in their possession during a lawsuit’s discovery period. Therefore, many passive attorneys do not do much evidence collection and wait for the insurance company to do the work. Active attorneys know the value of early and thorough evidence collection. This effort makes negligence claims much easier to settle on victim-friendly terms.

Frequently, an Issaquah personal injury attorney partners with a private investigator to collect evidence in car crash cases. Other professionals, such as doctors and accident reconstruction engineers, often lend a hand as well. All this effort may seem unnecessary. But extra effort on the front end pays dividends on the back end, in the form of maximum compensation for serious injuries.

*Gumshoe Evidence* Back in ye olden days, private investigators walked so much that they got gum on their shoes. At least we think that is where this expression came from. Now, largely thanks to an attorney’s legal connections and know-how, a simple phone call is enough to collect evidence like the police accident report, medical bills, and witness statements.

The quality of this evidence, such as the police accident report, varies. Issaquah is a relatively small community with a relatively small police force in a relatively isolated part of King County. So, if a car crash happens on a surface street, even a busy one like Highland Drive or Front Street, the Issaquah police department may be the only investigating agency.

The IPD has limited resources, which means limited accident investigations. Thus, the same emergency responder who spearheaded activities at the scene often writes the report. These individuals do the best they can. However, their written reports are often little more than afterthoughts. Additionally, they usually base their conclusions solely on the evidence immediately available at the scene.

In contrast, if a wreck happens on Interstate 90, multiple agencies often contribute to the investigation. Many larger agencies, like the Washington State Police, have in-house professional accident investigators. All that means more resources and a more comprehensive report.

At the minimum, gumshoe evidence is always a good starting point. It is up to an Issaquah personal injury lawyer to fill in the gaps.

GPS Evid*ence* Back in the day, surveillance cameras recorded blurry images on grainy videotape. Now, surveillance cameras digitally record sharp images. Image quality is just one advantage. Assuming the gadget was working right and a lawyer lays the proper foundation in court, insurance company lawyers usually cannot challenge surveillance video accuracy or authenticity.

These same things apply to a vehicle’s Event Data Recorder. An EDR is like a black box flight data recorder for a motor vehicle. Depending on the make and model, EDRs measure and record data like:

  • Vehicle speed,
  • Engine RPM,
  • Brake application, and
  • Steering angle.

A skilled attorney uses these bits of evidence to build a case like a painter uses dollops of oil paint on a palette to create a painting.

*Contact a Reliable 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 routinely handle matters throughout Washington State.

Can You Sue a Float Plane Company for Injuries in Renton?

Posted Friday, September 9, 2022 by Chris Thayer

Floatplanes are a popular choice for travelers on the Pacific Northwest coast. They are faster and less stressful than ferries, and they’re also exponentially more exciting. With plenty of reputable floatplane companies to choose from, some travelers even find cheaper deals compared to ferries. But what happens when a floatplane journey goes wrong? What happens when you suffer an injury during one of these flights? Worse still, what happens if you lose a family member to a fatal plane crash?

If you find yourself in this situation, you should get in touch with a personal injury attorney in Renton as soon as possible. If your injury was caused by negligence, you could strive for a settlement that covers your medical expenses, missed wages, emotional distress, and much more. If you have lost a loved one in a plane crash, you may receive compensation for funeral expenses and other damages. It is important to book your consultation as soon as possible for the best results.

*Fatal Crash Reminds Us All How Dangerous Float Planes Can Be*On September 4th, a float plane crashed near Whitby Island, killing all 10 occupants. These passengers were on their way back to Renton from the San Juan Islands – and some had probably spent the last few days vacationing in the beautiful Pacific Northwest island chains. Over a week later, it was reported that the wreckage of the crash had been found, and at least one person’s identity had been confirmed.

The exact cause of the crash has yet to be revealed, and it may take years to find any real answers. This will obviously be a difficult period for the surviving family members of these victims, as they all want answers.

Witnesses say that the plane first engaged in a steep climb before nose-diving almost vertically into the water. During the plane’s fall to the ocean, it was reportedly “spinning” or “rotating.” Although the exact details are still quite murky, this would suggest that the cause of the crash could have been some mechanical error or failure.

*Enlist the Help of a Qualified Attorney Today*If you’ve been searching for a qualified, experienced personal injury attorney in Renton, look no further than Pivotal Law Group. Over the years, we have assisted numerous injured plaintiffs in the Seattle area, and we know how daunting these injuries can be. Whether you have lost a loved one or you are suffering from injuries yourself, it is important to take action quickly. The statute of limitations may prevent you from suing altogether if you wait too long. Internet research can only get you so far, so book your consultation today to get started with an effective action plan.