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

Top Five (or Bottom Five) Car Wreck Injuries in Issaquah

Posted Friday, January 20, 2023 by Chris Thayer

The average financial cost of a catastrophic (life-threatening) car crash injury is over $100,000. This figure typically includes emergency medical care, follow-up care, physical therapy, medical devices, and other ancillary expenses. The actual injuries are usually one or more of the injuries discussed below.

An Issaquah personal injury attorney can obtain compensation for these medical bills and other economic losses, such as lost wages and property damage. Attorneys also obtain compensation for noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. The bottom line is that these victims need money to put their lives back together. The driver who was legally responsible for the wreck is also financially responsible for it.

*Broken Bones*During a crash, a victim’s arms and legs can flail wildly against a dashboard or another solid object. Therefore, broken arm and leg bones are very common in car wrecks. But these injuries are more than run-of-the-mill playground injury broken bones.

Typically, the force of a collision crushes these bones. Therefore, doctors must use metal parts to reconstruct them surgically. The more aggressive treatment on the front end means longer and more difficult physical therapy on the back end. These costs add up.

Furthermore, car crash-related broken bones are often permanent injuries. For example, after a victim’s broken shoulder heals, s/he may lose some range of motion in that shoulder.

*Internal Injuries*The same force that smashes bones causes internal organs to smash against each other, causing minor lacerations. These small lacerations usually bleed badly since internal organs have no protective skin layers.

This internal bleeding is hard to spot and even harder to stop. Therefore, by the time many victims reach hospitals, they are already on the edge of hypovolemic shock and organ shutdown.

*Head Injuries*Seatbelts and airbags reduce the risk of head injuries. But they do not eliminate this risk. Victims who slam their heads into airbags might as well slam their heads into walls with only pillows for protection.

As the name implies, brain surgery is very delicate and complicated. Many surgeons aren’t qualified to perform these procedures. Even if they do have the proper credentials, there are no guarantees of success.

Issues continue during physical therapy. Brain injury PT is slow and laborious since victims must often learn to walk, eat, and do almost everything again. Furthermore, progress comes in fits and starts instead of a straight line.

*Serious Lacerations*Like broken bones and head injuries, serious skin lacerations usually never entirely heal. The physical scars remain, as do the emotional scars.

*Neck Injuries*Whiplash is a motion-related head-neck injury that does not appear on most diagnostic tests. The motion of a wreck damages the nerves in the cervical spine. What begins as a pain in the shoulders could eventually cause paralysis. Because neck soreness is also a symptom of accident shock, whiplash, like so many other car crash injuries, is often misdiagnosed by doctors.

An Issaquah personal injury attorney connects victims with doctors who know how to diagnose whiplash, head injuries, and other car wreck-related conditions. So, victims immediately get the treatment they need.

*Connect with a Hard-Working 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 do not charge upfront legal fees in these matters.

If I am Hurt in a Fall in Bellevue, Do I Automatically Get a Settlement?

Posted Friday, January 13, 2023 by Chris Thayer

Every fall injury victim needs a settlement. That much is certain. The annual medical costs alone for falls and other personal injuries exceed $325 billion. Other economic losses include property damage and lost work. These victims also deserve compensation for their pain and suffering, emotional distress, and other noneconomic losses. However, not every fall victim is guaranteed a settlement.

Instead, a Bellevue personal injury lawyer must diligently build a strong case from the ground up. But even that is not enough. An attorney must also anticipate some common insurance company defenses and be ready to refute them in court. Only a lawyer who is ready, willing, and able to go the extra mile can obtain maximum compensation for your serious injuries.

*Lack of Evidence*A fall is often a no-witness case. No one, except the victim, can testify about the circumstances of the fall. The victim’s testimony is often biased. Our minds are not video cameras. We remember things selectively. Additionally, many fall victims sustained head injuries. These injuries often impair memory and further undermine credibility.

Additional evidence is usually available in these situations. Chances are, especially if the fall happened in a grocery store or other public place, somebody saw something. Even if the witness did not see the fall, the witness could testify about the hazard that caused the fall.

Furthermore, a Bellevue personal injury lawyer often uses an obscure legal doctrine called res ipsa loquitur (the thing speaks for itself) to reduce the amount of evidence needed to prove negligence. In some cases, jurors may presume that negligence caused a fall or other personal injury.

The burden of proof is already low. A victim/plaintiff must only establish negligence, or a lack of care, by a preponderance of the evidence, or more likely than not. A little evidence goes a long way.

*Comparative Fault*The most common affirmative defense in fall injury claims comes in several forms. One or more forms may be available, depending on the facts of the case.

Sometimes, the open and obvious doctrine applies. Property owners are not legally responsible for personal injuries if an open and obvious hazard causes an injury.

This rule seems straightforward, but it usually isn’t. What may be an open and obvious hazard to some people is a concealed hazard to other people. Older adult victims are a good example. Many of these individuals do not see well, especially in low-light conditions.

A standard comparative fault defense asserts that the victim didn’t watch where s/he was going. A similar defense often applies in pedestrian accident claims. If there is evidence of joint responsibility, which in this case is a hazard and a failure to mind one’s surroundings, jurors must divide fault on a percentage basis, such as 50-50.

Washington is a pure comparative fault state. Even if the victim was 99% responsible for the injury, the tortfeasor (negligent party) must pay a proportionate share of damages.

A similar scheme generally applies if the owner posted a “Caution Wet Floor” or other warning sign in the area. First, the insurance company must prove the victim saw the sign, could read the sign and could understand its meaning. Second, the jury must divide fault on a percentage basis, as outlined above.

*Speak With 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.

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.