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 Crashes in Washington?

Posted Friday, September 2, 2022 by Chris Thayer

Since 2009, the number of large truck wrecks has increased by a staggering 47%. When these cases go to court, they are incredibly complex. Truck crash victims usually sustain severe burns, head injuries, internal wounds, and other catastrophic injuries. As a result, the medical bills often exceed $100,000. Additionally, most truckers have licenses in several different states. That makes evidence collection difficult. Finally, the shipping or transportation firm that owns the truck, usually an out-of-state conglomerate, is financially responsible for damages, at least in most cases.

A Burien personal injury attorney helps victims get through this trying experience. Attorneys immediately connect victims with doctors and other providers who usually charge nothing upfront for their services. Then, our team does the dirty work and collects evidence that supports your claim and refutes insurance company defenses. Much of this evidence, like electronic evidence, is unavailable at the scene. Finally, when the case goes to court, we never stop fighting for you. The long and winding road that leads to fair compensation begins with determining the cause of the wreck.

*Driver Impairment* Driver error causes about 98 percent of the truck wrecks in Washington. Some specific driver errors include:

  • Drugs: To try and counteract the effects of fatigue, which is another common kind of truck driver impairment, about half of truckers admit they use amphetamines while they are behind the wheel. These pills help drivers feel more alert, but they do not address other fatigue issues. Moreover, when these drugs wear off, users almost always crash hard and fast.
  • Fatigue: Due to continuing supply chain issues since COVID-19 hit America in 2020, federal and state regulators have relaxed many HOS (hours of service) rules. These regulators often don’t strictly enforce the remaining rules. Therefore, many truckers stay behind the wheel for dangerously long periods of time. Driving after eighteen consecutive awake hours is like driving with a .05 BAC level, which is above the legal limit in Washington.
  • Distraction: Many truckers, especially long haul drivers, spend long hours on mostly empty highways. As a result, the temptation to use cell phones and other devices while they drive is strong. Most of us are well aware of the dangers of using a hand-held device while driving. Using a hands-free device isn’t much safer. In fact, according to one study, using such a gadget while driving is as dangerous as driving drunk.

The Safety Maintenance Report, which is a multistate driving record, helps a Burien personal injury attorney obtain valuable information about these impairments and their underlying problems, like sleep apnea (fatigue) and a history of alcohol use (drugs).

*Aggressive Driving in Burien* Trucks are so large and so heavy, and the driver’s line of sight is usually so poor that almost any aggressive driving violates the duty of care. That’s especially true in Washington, where common carriers, like truckers, usually have a higher duty of care. As a result, almost any driving error constitutes negligence, or a lack of care.

Excessive speed may be the most common form of aggressive driving. Velocity multiplies the risk of a wreck as well as the force in a collision.

Other kinds of aggressive driving include tailgating, making an unsafe lane change, and failing to obey a traffic control device. Aggressive truck driving is especially common on surface streets. Many truckers aren’t used to sharing the road.

Connect With a Dedicated 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. Attorneys can connect victims with doctors, even if they don’t have any money or insurance.

Electronic Evidence in Renton Car Crash Cases

Posted Friday, August 26, 2022 by Chris Thayer

The burden of proof in a negligence claim is only a preponderance of the evidence, or more likely than not. That is one of the lowest burdens of proof in Washington. However, as is usually the case in life, the minimum effort usually means minimum results. To obtain maximum compensation, attorneys often must go beyond minimal evidence, like the police accident report, medical bills, and witness statements.

As outlined below, electronic evidence often makes the difference between maximum compensation and settling for less. Only an experienced Renton personal injury lawyer has the know-how and resources necessary to obtain this evidence and present it properly in court. A lot is at stake. Compensation in a car crash claim usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.

*Surveillance Video* Even in smaller towns like Renton and Mercer Island, at least one camera, like a traffic or security camera, overlooks almost every intersection and stretch of highway in the area. In court, a surveillance camera is like an eyewitness who is never biased or incorrect and always has a good view of a crash.

Additionally, most cameras record footage in high-definition digital video. So, it’s easy to present in court, and the high-quality footage is easy for jurors to see.

Some hurdles exist. Human eyewitnesses often voluntarily come forward. Cameras never come forward on their own. Instead, a Renton personal injury lawyer, sometimes in conjunction with a private investigator, must find them. Moreover, Washington law requires a special electronic evidence authentication proceeding.

*Event Data Recorder* Just like all large commercial jets have a black box flight data recorder, all commercial and noncommercial vehicles have an EDR. These gadgets first appeared in the 1970s. Today, they’re much more sophisticated. Most EDRs measure and record things like:

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

A Kent personal injury attorney can put these bits of evidence together like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle and create a clear picture for jurors.

Much like surveillance video, EDR information, which is often critical in car crash cases, is not always available.

Washington has strong vehicle information privacy laws. Normally, attorneys must go to judges and convince them to issue court orders before they can inspect and download EDR information. Furthermore, because these gadgets are so sophisticated, the inspection and downloading process requires a lot more than a screwdriver and a laptop.

That’s assuming the EDR is available at all. Most insurance companies destroy wrecked vehicles within a few days of a crash. If that occurs, all physical evidence in the vehicle, including the EDR, is lost.

To prevent insurance companies from “accidentally” destroying vital evidence, attorneys must immediately send spoliation letters to insurance companies. These letters create a legal duty to preserve any potential physical evidence for later inspection.

*Connect With a Dedicated 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 do not charge upfront legal fees in these matters.

How Do I Prove a Drowsy Truck Driver Injury Claim in Kent?

Posted Friday, August 19, 2022 by Chris Thayer

Since a missed early delivery bonus could be the difference between making money and losing money on a run, many truckers stay behind the wheel as long as possible. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which is supposedly a consumer watchdog group, has encouraged this behavior. It has recently watered down some key HOS (hours of service) rules. As a result, many truckers are dangerously fatigued. Driving after 18 consecutive awake hours is like driving with a .05 BAC level. That is above the legal limit for commercial drivers in Washington.

To impede the effects of fatigue, many truckers use amphetamines. These drugs might make users feel more alert. But they also make them edgy and suspicious behind the wheel. Furthermore, when amphetamines wear off, users often crash hard and fast.

If drowsy driving, or any other kind of impaired driving, caused a wreck, a Kent personal injury attorney may be able to obtain substantial 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 available as well, in some extreme cases. Generally, the company that owned the big rig, or its cargo, is financially responsible for these damages, thanks to the respondeat superior doctrine.

*Medical Records* This compensation is available if a victim/plaintiff proves negligence, or a lack of care, by a preponderance of the evidence, or more likely than not. Typically, the more proof a victim presents, the more compensation jurors award.

Medical records, both from the victim and from the tortfeasor (negligent driver) are often key in this area.

The victim’s medical records establish clinical information, like diagnosis, treatment, and cost data. Furthermore, these records usually include treatment notes that show the victim’s pain level and emotional state at certain times.

The only medical information these records do not show is the need for future medical treatment if any. If a personal injury settlement does not account for these costs, the victim could be financially responsible for them. So, a Kent personal injury lawyer often partners with a medical expert who evaluates these records, and other evidence, and predicts probable future expenses.

The tortfeasor’s medical records often contain information about sleep apnea. This condition, which is very common among truck drivers and others who sit a lot, makes it impossible to get deep, restorative sleep. Instead, since the primary airway closes during sleep, these individuals nap all night. So, they are fatigued the next day, even if they got a full night’s rest.

On a related note, circadian rhythm fatigue is also a serious problem among commercial operators, especially if their work schedules are erratic. Most people are naturally drowsy late at night and early in the morning. Most truckers are behind the wheel at these times.

*Electronic Evidence* Before the government’s Electronic Logging Device requirement took effect, the trucking industry fought the mandate all the way to the Supreme Court. These lawyers knew these gadgets give a Kent personal injury lawyer game-changing evidence in drowsy driver cases.

Until recently, truckers logged their hours manually. These records were easy to fake. An ELD provides almost bulletproof evidence of fatigue. These devices, which are attached to the drivetrain, accurately track truck drivers’ driving hours and rest periods.

Attorneys must overcome some legal hurdles to access ELDs. For example, Washington has very strict vehicle information privacy laws. Attorneys usually need court orders before they can inspect and download ELDs.

*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 Kent, contact Pivotal Law Group, PLLC. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these matters.

Five Kinds of Driving Impairment in Bellevue

Posted Friday, August 12, 2022 by Chris Thayer

Most vehicle collisions are not “accidents.” People accidentally leave the lights on. They do not accidentally get behind the wheel when they are too sleepy to drive. The number of fatal car crashes has increased significantly since 2020. During coronavirus lockdowns, when roads emptied and traffic enforcement all but disappeared, many drivers picked up bad habits. These bad habits include impaired driving, as outlined below.

Crash victims need money to pay crash-related bills and otherwise put their lives back together. They should not have to pay this money from their own pockets. So, a Bellevue personal injury attorney can obtain compensation for these injuries 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 may be available, as well, in some extreme cases.

*Alcohol* We mentioned driver habits above. A long-term “drunk driver” crackdown has meant more arrests, but it has not changed driver habits. Alcohol still causes about the same proportion of fatal accidents today as it did in the 1980s before the crackdown began.

If tortfeasors (negligent drivers) violate a penal safety law, like the DUI law, and that violation causes injury, the tortfeasor is liable for the aforementioned damages as a matter of law.

Frequently, drivers are not intoxicated (complete loss of mental or physical faculties), but they are impaired (partial loss of mental or physical faculties). The duty of care, which applies to most noncommercial motorists, requires them to be at their absolute best, physically, mentally, and otherwise, when they drive. Evidence of impairment, which begins with the first drink, includes:

  • Prior alcohol consumption,
  • Erratic driving before the wreck,
  • Physical symptoms, like the odor of alcohol or unsteady balance, and
  • Tortfeasor’s statements about alcohol use.

The burden of proof in a civil case is only a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not). If Mary ate at a restaurant that served alcohol, it’s more likely than not that she consumed alcohol there. So, a Bellevue personal injury lawyer can use this evidence to prove alcohol impairment.

*Fatigue* Many people do not know that drowsiness and alcohol affect the body and brain in about the same way. Driving after 18 consecutive awake hours is like driving with a .05 BAC level. That’s above the legal limit for many Washington drivers.

Drowsiness and alcohol impairment/intoxication have something else in common. There is no shortcut to recovery for these individuals. Only time cures alcohol impairment and only sleep cures fatigue.

Fatigue is especially a problem among truck drivers. These individuals are under intense pressure to stay behind the wheel as long as possible. Unfortunately, regulators are willing to look the other way in these situations.

*Drugs* Marijuana is, by far, the leading cause of drugged driving. It may be legal to possess and use marijuana, but it is illegal and dangerous to drive under its influence. Usually, drug impairment, like alcohol impairment, begins with the first puff or pill.

Other people use drugs to counteract the effects of fatigue. Almost half of all truckers admit they use amphetamines while they are behind the wheel. These drugs are not just impairing. When the drug wears off, users crash hard and fast.

*Distraction* Hand-held cell phones get many of the headlines in this area, mostly because these gadgets combine all three types of distraction, which are:

  • Manual (hand off the wheel),
  • Cognitive (mind off driving), and
  • Visual (eyes off the road).

Hands-free devices may be more dangerous than hand-held devices. Hands-free gadgets are visually and cognitively distracting. Additionally, these devices give many drivers a false sense of security.

Non-device distraction is even more common than device distraction. Examples include drinking while driving and eating while driving.

*Medical Condition* Many chronic and serious medical conditions, like heart disease and epilepsy, could cause motorists to suddenly lose consciousness as they drive. The result is a dangerous out-of-control collision.

Short-term and mild medical conditions, like the flu, are a constant hazard as well. Symptoms of these illnesses, like watery eyes and trouble breathing, reduce driving ability by as much as 50%.

*Contact a Dedicated 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. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these matters.

Can You Sue for Injuries Sustained on a Ferry in Issaquah?

Posted Friday, August 5, 2022 by Chris Thayer

Washington State is right on the beautiful Pacific Coast – home to whales, otters, and plenty of incredible islands. One of the best ways to experience this maritime splendor is to take a ferry. But what happens when this ocean adventure turns out to be a danger-ridden, horrifying experience? What happens if you are injured while taking a ferry in Issaquah?

If you have been injured on a ferry in Issaquah, your best bet is to get in touch with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Our legal professionals can guide you toward justice and help you pursue the settlement you need and deserve to pay for your losses. These damages might include medical expenses, missed wages, emotional distress, and much more. Remember, the statute of limitations can prevent you from suing if you wait too long, so it is best to act as soon as possible.

*Ferry Accidents are More Common Than You Think*Becoming injured on a ferry might seem like an unlikely scenario – but these accidents may be more common than you think. On July 28th, it was reported that some kind of accident had occurred on a vessel operated by Washington State Ferries. The boat was traveling from Vashon Island to Seattle when it somehow crashed during the docking procedures. Judging by the images that have come out of this report, it seems obvious that the boat sustained heavy damage. In addition, several cars on the vehicle deck appear to have suffered significant damage. According to The Seattle Times, the left side of the boat was “completely crumpled.”

While no injuries were reported in this specific incident, you can see how a ferry accident could potentially lead to all kinds of harm.

Of course, many other ferry accidents have been much worse. One of the most notable examples was the MS Estonia, which encountered heavy waves and sank along with hundreds of its passengers. In 2012, the Costa Concordia disaster captured the attention of the entire world, causing the deaths of over 34 people.

*Can You Sue Washington State Ferries?*You can indeed sue Washington State Ferries for personal injury. According to their official reports, numerous people file personal injury claims against them each year, suggesting that this situation is common. Numerous employees have also sued Washington State Ferries over the years for various injuries.

*Enlist the Help of a Qualified Attorney Today*If you have been searching the Issaquah area for a qualified personal injury attorney, look no further than Pivotal Law Group. Over the years, we have assisted numerous injured plaintiffs. We know how serious and life-altering injuries can be, and there is no reason you should have to pay for these damages if they were caused by someone else’s negligence. Internet research can only get you so far, so book your consultation today to get started with an effective action plan.