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

Will a Structured Settlement Be Right for You?

Posted Thursday, April 28, 2016 by Chris Thayer

When a personal injury claimant wins or settles their case, they often have the choice of whether to accept one lump sum payment or a series of payment over time. This series of payments over time is referred to as a structured settlement.
Whether you should accept a structured settlement depends on many factors including your financial needs, tax situation, your expenses, and your ability to manage money. There is no right or wrong answer. It really depends on your needs and a structured settlement is your decision to make. A skilled Seattle injury settlement lawyer can advise you.

How a Structured Settlement Works

If you agree to accept a structured settlement, you will receive monetary payments over a specific period of time. For example, if you receive a $500,000 settlement award, you could receive $50,000 per year for a period of ten years payable on a specified date, such as every July 1 for ten years.
You also have the option to design your structured settlement so that it provides money to you when you need it. These are some of the options that you have with a structured settlement.• Large lump sum payments with smaller supplemental payments. For example, if you were out of work for a long period of time and have bills to pay, mortgage payments, or an aging car that needs to be replaced, it may be advisable to take a larger amount of your settlement up front to pay those bills and accept smaller payments over time.• Small payments increasing over time. You can also opt to receive smaller payments up front with larger payments increasing in time.• Large payments decreasing in time. Conversely, you have the option to receive larger payments at first and have them decrease in time.• Payments for extraordinary expenses. If you anticipate extraordinary expenses such as tuition or a mortgage loan pay off in the future, it might make sense to receive larger settlement payments later on.• Delayed payments. If you have no need for cash right away, your payments can be paid out in the future on a designated date.• Structured settlement as an annuity. With an annuity, the defendant transfers its obligation to an insurance company who can manage payments over time. Some experts argue that this is a more stable financial option than betting on the defendant’s continued financial health.

Is a Structured Settlement Right for You?

The decision as to whether to accept a structured settlement is yours. Your attorney can help lay out the options, but you also hear from a financial expert. Consider:• Tax consequences. Your structured settlement and how you receive it could be taxable depending on how the settlement is structured, what the settlement represents (for example, compensatory as opposed to punitive damages), and state and federal laws. • How will you use your settlement money? How you design a structured settlement depends on what you need the money for, and when you need it. For example, if you need the money right away to pay bills, make mortgage payments or to pay other expenses, it might make sense to accept a larger sum up front with smaller structured payments. On the other hand, you may not have a need for any cash right away and it might make sense to receive payments over time• Think about your emotional health. Do not let your grief or trauma adversely affect your financial decisions. Think about your future financial needs such as medical expenses, a down payment on a house, tuition, retirement or additional income and what other expenses you may have in the future.• Whether you have the financial management skills to manage your money. Not everyone is used to managing their own money. Think carefully about whether your financial skills are such that you can handle a large lump sum payment or whether you need assistance managing your money so that you can make informed decisions.• Whether you are likely to spend the money right away or make high-risk investments. Many people fall financial victim to scams, risky investments, and other unwise money moves. Be honest with yourself about your spending habits when deciding how to structure settlement payments.• Will you have other financial pressures on you? For example, do you anticipate being pressured by friends, family, or strangers to loan them money or give them handouts. This should factor into your decision how to design a structured settlement. • Do you have the right financial guidance? Professionals such as a financial advisor, accountant, trustee, or attorney can help guide you as to investments and other financial decisions.

Before You Enter Into a Structured Settlement

Whether to use a structured settlement is an important financial decision. These are some tips to consider before you sign:• Have a good understanding of what your financial needs will be in the future.• Be realistic about your money management skills.• Think about what kind of life you want to have and how your financial settlement will fit into that picture.• Consider your options before deciding.
• Choose a reputable and well-established insurance or financial company. This is not a time to go with a new company. Review the payor’s financial health.• Consult with an accountant or other financial advisor beforehand.• Sleep on it.

Seattle injury settlement lawyer Chris Thayer can help you evaluate your case as well as its eventual settlement option. 206-340-2008.

What Evidence Will Be Persuasive and How Do I Obtain It?

Posted Thursday, April 21, 2016 by Chris Thayer

Obtaining persuasive evidence is important to a successful resolution of your personal injury case. With evidence, you can prove your claims. Without it, you cannot. As a personal injury claimant, you should speak with your Seattle injury lawyer about the specifics of your case and what you can do to help gather evidence. Your attorney will have a game plan and can give you guidance.Several types of evidence can help you in your personal injury case:• Demonstrative evidence. This is physical proof that generally has the form of representing an object. Some examples are photographs, diagrams, graphs, charts, or any other physical items that tend to show or depict proof of an object or a fact. For example, if you were injured in an auto accident, a diagram could be used to depict the scene of the accident.• Physical evidence. This is any type of proof introduced in the form of a physical object, whether in whole or in part. Examples are a footprint, a toy, a vehicle, or hair.• Documentary evidence. This is evidence that takes an actual documentary form and can be presented in writing. Examples include reports, statements, policies, bills, contracts, and wills.• Digital evidence. This is proof obtained from any electronic source. Examples include phone or computer data, emails, hard drives, instant message logs, and any form of electronic communication. • Exculpatory evidence. This is the so-called ‘smoking gun’ proof which is usually used in criminal cases but it can be applicable in personal injury cases. This would include any fact or thing that would prove guilt, innocence, or liability. Examples include a confession, a photograph, or a statement.• Testimony. This includes actual direct testimony from a sworn witness whether it be in court, at a proceeding or at a deposition. Statements such as reports, utterances, phone messages, depositions, and text messages can be used to impeach a witness.• Scientific evidence. This would be proof that conforms to the standards of the scientific community or another recognized field of expertise. Examples would be verifying DNA, metal, auto parts, or how a toy or mechanism functions. For example, if you were in an auto accident and the air bag did not deploy, scientific evidence could be used to prove that the air bag did not function properly. Or, if a driver of a vehicle was driving too fast and caused an accident, scientific evidence could be used to prove the rate of speed that driver was travelling when the accident occurred.

What evidence will be persuasive?

What constitutes evidence in your case depends on the facts and claims of your case. When gathering evidence, it is essential that you do so with your attorney’s leadership. This is true for several reasons:• Your attorney is your guide. Many litigants have not had any experience with the personal injury process. The facts which gave rise to their injury, such as an accident, may be their first experience. Or they are dealing with grief and trauma and may not know what to expect from the process. An attorney experienced in handling personal injury cases will keep you informed of the developments in your case, give you guidance, and reassure you as appropriate.• Ensure the admissibility of evidence. As your case proceeds, it is important that your evidence is authenticated according to the rules of evidence. For example, if you have a text message or a photo which could help your case, it is important that you preserve that evidence according to evidence laws. Your attorney can advise you how to do this.• Help you understand what is relevant to your case. What you think is a winning hand or piece of evidence may not be very relevant to your case. Conversely, a fact or piece of evidence which you did not think was important could turn out to be the evidence that persuades a judge or jury to rule in your favor or an insurance company or defendant to offer you a favorable settlement.
• Preserve the chain of custody of evidence. Preserving the chain of custody refers to preserving evidence in its original state to prove that it came from a specified source. For example, if you have computer or phone data, you would want to ensure that it can be proven that the evidence came from your phone or computer. Your attorney can instruct you or an expert how to preserve all evidence to ensure that it is admissible in a proceeding.
• Advise you how to approach a witness. It is important that you approach a witness in an appropriate way so as to ensure their cooperation. If witness interviews are done correctly, for example, a witness may be more likely to volunteer information that could help your case. Whereas a witness who is scared or feels backed into a corner may tend to clam up or forget important facts.• Make the best use of experts. A good expert can make the difference between winning and losing your case or obtaining a more favorable settlement. Experts have years of professional experience and can have credibility with the opposing party and the court. Your attorney may have a game plan, relationships with experts, and the expertise necessary to hire and use experts which can result in a favorable outcome in your case.

In his evaluation of your case, Seattle injury lawyer Chris Thayer will outline for you the evidence that will help obtain a successful outcome. 206-340-2008.

Proving Who is at Fault in Personal Injury Cases

Posted Monday, March 21, 2016 by Chris Thayer

If you have been injured due to someone else’s negligence, you should hire an experienced Seattle personal injury lawyer at your earliest convenience.

Although it may seem to you like another party is clearly responsible for your injuries, establishing legal responsibility or liability in personal injury cases can be complicated. To determine might receive compensation for your injuries, it must first be determined who is legally responsible.

Determining Legal Liability

The vast majority of accidents happen because at least one person was careless in some way. For personal injury cases, the basic rule is that if one person was more careless than another during an accident, the more careless one must pay at least a portion of the damages that were suffered by the more careful one.

Extenuating factors that may affect how liability is determined include:

  • If the injured person was careless too, their compensation could be reduced by the degree to which their carelessness contributed to the accident. This is referred to as comparative negligence.
  • If the injured person was somewhere that they weren’t supposed to be, or if they were where they should have expected activities to be occurring that could have caused such an accident, the person who caused the accident may not be held liable because they had no “duty” to be careful. This is also known as the duty of care standard.
  • If the accident occurred because the property where it happened was dangerous due to poor maintenance or because it was poorly built, the owner of the property will be deemed liable for failing to properly maintain the premises.
  • If the negligent party caused the accident while working for someone else, their employer may also be legally responsible for the incident.
  • If the accident was caused by a defective product, the seller and manufacturer of the product may both be held responsible even if the injured party is uncertain which one was careless in designing or permitting the defect, or if they are unclear about how the defect happened in the first place.

When More Than One Person is at Fault

If multiple people are responsible for your injuries, the law in the majority of states dictates that any one of the responsible parties is required to fully compensate you for your injuries. After one party has compensated you, the others may then decide among themselves whether to reimburse that party for their own contributions to the incident.

Collecting from one party is advantageous in that if one party isn’t insured, you can seek compensation from one who is.

As your Seattle personal injury lawyer will tell you, the best course of action is to notify each responsible party that you may be filing for damages. Depending on how the accident occurred and which insurance company takes responsibility, you can then pursue a claim against one of the parties.

How Your Carelessness May Affect Your Claim

In most states, even if your carelessness played a part in the accident, you can still get at least some compensation from anyone else who was at least partly responsible. The amount of other parties’ liability is determined by comparing your recklessness with theirs.The percentage of compensation for your damages will equal the percentage of the liability of the other parties. This is referred to as comparative negligence. For instance, if your damages total $2,000 but it is determined that you are 10-percent responsible, the other party will be liable for $1,800 of the damages.

State Restrictions on Compensation if You are Deemed Careless

Different states apply the comparative negligence standard differently. The most lenient states rule that regardless of how great your own fault was, you can recover compensation for your injuries in the amount based on others’ fault. However, most states won’t allow you to recover any damages if you are deemed to be more than 50 percent or more responsible. A very small number of states won’t allow any compensation at all if you are more than even slightly responsible or if your carelessness directly contributed to the accident. e fully compensated for your injuries.

Hire Seattle Injury Lawyers

If you were injured because of someone else’s carelessness, it is crucial to protect your rights as early as possible. Seattle personal injury lawyer Chris Thayer can help. Call (866) 884-2417 today.

Our Dog Bite Attorney Seattle Provides an Overview of Dog-Bite Laws

Posted Friday, March 11, 2016 by Chris Thayer

Clients sometimes ask our dog bite attorney Seattle who is responsible for dog bites in the state of Washington. The law clearly specifies that the owner is liable, and legislation covers various aspects of dog bite law as follows.

An Overview of Dog Bite Laws

State laws favor the victims of dog bites and hold owners responsible although landlords are generally excluded from this provision. However, those who keep or harbor a dog or act negligently can also be held responsible. If a dog previously acted aggressively, biting someone, injuring someone or acting as if it might hurt someone, then the responsible party will be held liable if the dog hurts anyone in the future. This knowledge, based on the canine’s previous actions, is called ‘scienter’ and applies to any domestic animal. Responsible parties include anyone who did not act to control the dog when it hurt someone, no matter how the canine hurt the injured party.

Scienter and Common Law Liability

According to case law, the dog’s owner, harborer or keeper can be found responsible for injury if he or she knows the dog’s aggressive tendencies and does not protect others. However, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant know about the dog’s tendency toward violence. The courts have labeled this as the ‘one-bite rule.’

Negligence Liability in Canine Bites

Although an owner is responsible if he or she has knowledge of a dangerous canine in the event of an injury, the same owner will be held negligent only if he or she fails to prevent an injury. The owner must exercise control similar to what another reasonable person would exercise in the same situation when considering the dog’s previous actions and the prevention of injuries.

Washington Legislation and Statutory Liability

State law indicates that even when a dog has not exhibited previously aggressive behavior, the dog’s owner is still responsible in the event of a canine bite.

Legal Issues and Aggressive Canines

According to state legislation, if the owner lets a vicious canine roam freely, he or she has committed a crime and could be held responsible under negligence laws. Local laws might differ slightly but will usually be more restrictive. For example, under Seattle city laws, when a canine is in public, it must be on a leash.

Landlord Liability

For the most part, landlords are completely exempt when a tenant owns a vicious dog, even if the landlord is aware of the dog’s dangerous behavior. Only the person directly responsible for the canine – the harborer, keeper or owner – is responsible. This holds true even when two tenants live on the property with the canine of one renter injuring another renter.

Defining an Owner

Since the owner is solely responsible, the court must define who, exactly, qualifies as an owner. In the case of Harris v. Turner, the homeowner, who did not own the dog, was not found responsible after a renter’s canine collided with a motorcycle, injuring a passenger. Instead, the courts ruled against the dog owners.

In the case of Shafer v. Beyers, the property owner was similarly not held responsible when another person sublet the owner’s apartment. The owners were not aware of the dog, and the sub-tenants were temporarily keeping the canine although it was not clear if they actually owned the animal. The court eventually decided that the animal did not show dangerous tendencies before the accident. As such, the case showed that the person’s scienter of the animal’s potential danger determines the level of liability.

Call Our Dog Bite Attorney Seattle at (866) 884-2417

If you or a loved one has been the victim of a canine attack or bite, Chris Thayer can provide you with further insight on dog bite law.

Understanding the Statute of Limitations for Filing a Dog Bite Lawsuit in Washington State

Posted Friday, March 4, 2016 by Chris Thayer

If you have been attacked and bitten by someone else’s dog, chances are that you incurred medical bills and other expenses. You may have missed work due to your injury, which means lost wages too. There’s also your pain and suffering to consider. To be compensated for these losses, you must file a lawsuit against whoever owns the dog. Is there still time to do so? By understanding Seattle dog bite law, including the statute of limitations, your case is more likely to have a positive outcome.

What is a Statute of Limitations?

First, many people are unclear about what a statute of limitations is. Put simply, it refers to the length of time during which you may bring a case to court. The clock starts ticking as soon as the incident occurs. If the statute of limitations for a particular charge is one year, then, you must file a lawsuit or press charges before the one-year anniversary of the incident has passed. Fortunately, you have a little longer than that to file a lawsuit for injuries that occurred due to a dog bite.

Personal Injury Statute of Limitations in Washington State

Dog bites and other animal-related injuries fall under the personal injury category in the state of Washington. Therefore, the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit because of a dog bite is the same as it is for any other type of personal injury case. By referring to the Revised Code of Washington section 4.16.080, you will see that “An action for injury to the person or rights of another…shall be commenced within three years.” In other words, all personal injury lawsuits in the state of Washington must be filed within three years. Once that period of time has passed, you are out of luck.

Don’t Run Out the Clock

It’s understandable to need to wait a little while before filing a lawsuit for compensation for your dog bite injury. After all, getting medical care is the first order of business. Like most people, you probably have lots of other things going on, so you may not be able to get to work on it right away. However, the sooner you file a suit, the better. At your earliest convenience, retain an experienced personal injury lawyer to assist you. The sooner they go to work for you, the likelier you are to have a good outcome. Facts will still be fresh in people’s minds, for instance, and it will be easier for your lawyer to obtain the evidence that he or she needs when the incident occurred relatively recently.

In addition to having a fairly generous statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits, Washington makes things a little easier on victims of dog bites by not requiring them to prove that the owner of the dog did anything wrong–at least, that’s the case if you were bitten and were either in a public place or if you had permission to be on private property at the time that the incident occurred. This is all outlined in the Revised Code of Washington section 16.08.040.

What if the Statute of Limitations Expires?

If more than three years have passed since you were bitten by a dog, you most likely have no options in regards to filing a lawsuit. If you try, the court will almost certainly dismiss your case outright. There are a few exceptions, however, and a skilled attorney can check to see if any of them apply to your situation. In rare instances, the statute of limitations clock can be “tolled,” or paused. Please note that it is exceedingly rare for exceptions to be made and that if the time limit has passed, you probably have no recourse for seeking compensation for your injuries. Again, this is why it is so important to act quickly when seeking compensation in personal injury cases.

Hire an Experienced Seattle Dog Bite Law Attorney Today

No one should have to worry about being attacked and bitten by a dog. When incidents like these occur, dog owners must be held responsible. For help with your dog bite case, contact Chris Thayer by calling (866) 884-2417 today.