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

Direct and Circumstantial Evidence in Renton Alcohol-Related Crash Claims

Posted Friday, May 12, 2023 by Chris Thayer

Coronavirus pandemic lockdowns caused vehicle traffic to plummet in 2020. Nevertheless, the number of fatal alcohol-related car crashes increased substantially. Mostly because of lax or nonexistent traffic enforcement, drivers developed several bad habits, including drinking and driving. Like many other bad habits, the pandemic-related drinking and driving habit has proven easy to form and hard to break.

Even if the victim survives, drunk drivers normally cause serious injuries, such as broken bones and head injuries. These injuries are normally permanent, at least to an extent. Therefore, a Renton personal injury lawyer can normally 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.

*Direct Evidence*A bill to reduce Washington’s BAC limit recently failed in the State Senate. So, this limit, as in most other states, is still .08. In criminal court, prosecutors normally use breath tests to prove intoxication beyond a reasonable doubt.

A criminal conviction doesn’t matter to a Renton personal injury lawyer. If emergency responders charge a tortfeasor (negligent driver) with DUI, the negligence per se rule could apply. According to this doctrine, tortfeasors are liable for damages as a matter of law if:

* - *Safety Law Violation: An arrest is as good as a conviction in civil court, at least in this context. Such arrests are common if the tortfeasor is legally drunk. Most law enforcement agencies in and around King County have mandatory DUI arrest policies. The days of “go forth and sin no more” are long gone in this area. - Causes a Crash: Alcohol is a depressant that affects motor skills and judgment ability. These characteristics might be good at parties or if the person is drinking in a safe environment. But they’re very dangerous when the person tries to operate heavy machinery, like a motor vehicle.

Jurors often award very high compensation in DUI collision cases. Arguably, these tortfeasors knew they should not get behind the wheel, but they did so anyway and deliberately put other people at risk.

*Circumstantial Evidence*Three or four drinks make most people legally drunk. But the aforementioned poor judgment and reduced reaction time effects begin with the first sip of alcohol. In other words, many drivers are impaired but not intoxicated. An attorney uses circumstantial evidence to prove negligence, or a lack of care, in these situations. This evidence usually includes physical symptoms, such as:

  • Slurred speech,
  • Bloodshot eyes,
  • Odor of alcohol, and
  • Unsteady balance.

This evidence could also prove third-party liability. More on that below. Additional evidence of impairment includes erratic driving before the wreck and the tortfeasor’s previous schedule. If they recently went to a place that serves alcohol, it is more likely than not that they had at least one drink while there.

More likely than not, or a preponderance of the evidence, is the burden of proof in negligence claims. Individually, the physical symptoms listed above do not establish impairment or even consumption. But the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

Washington has a dram shop law. RCW 66.44.200 states that a person cannot sell liquor to a person who appears to be under the influence of alcohol.

Third-party liability is important in alcohol-related crashes. Frequently, the victim’s injuries are so severe that an individual tortfeasor does not have sufficient insurance to cover all economic and noneconomic losses.

*Rely on a Savvy 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.

Five Most Commonly Misdiagnosed Medical Conditions in Kent

Posted Friday, May 5, 2023 by Chris Thayer

Experienced doctors have all the training and skills to diagnose injuries and illnesses accurately. But depending on the illness or injury, the medical misdiagnosis rate is as high as 35%. Some doctors rely on their instincts, which are often wrong, as opposed to diagnostic test evidence, which is rarely incorrect. Other doctors do not have solid evidence. Instead, they over-rely on nurses or other non-doctors to interpret test results.

Misdiagnosis violates a doctor’s fiduciary duty of care. This legal responsibility requires physicians to set aside all other concerns, such as work-life balance or financial profit, and only do what is best for their patients. If a breach of duty causes injury, a Kent personal injury attorney can 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.

*Head Injuries*Car crashes are the leading cause of head injuries. Initial head injury symptoms, such as moderate pain and general disorientation, are almost exactly like the symptoms of accident shock. Therefore, many doctors tell crash-related head injury victims they just need to go home and get some rest.

Making matters worse, many doctors rely on patient-provided information. After a car crash, adrenaline masks pain. When patients tell doctors they “feel fine,” many doctors take these patients at their word. So, they do not perform MRIs and other necessary tests.

Head injuries are degenerative. Once the symptoms worsen, usually because the brain is swelling, the symptoms are almost impossible to manage.

*Cancer*Environmental cancer, mostly toxic exposure cancer, is on the rise. Nevertheless, to many doctors, cancer is still a lifestyle or genetic condition. If a patient shows the signs of cancer, like pain and weight change, but has no lifestyle or genetic markers, many doctors immediately assume the patient has another condition.

Cancer survival rates have improved significantly since the 1990s. This improvement is mostly because of improved diagnostic techniques that allow doctors to get a fast start. Without that diagnostic fast start, the prospects of survival plummet.

*Heart Attacks*Similarly, doctors often misdiagnose heart attacks and other cardiovascular issues if the patient has no genetic or lifestyle risk factors. Furthermore, even if a doctor orders a test, heart damage is easy to miss, especially if the evaluator is not fully qualified to interpret test results.

Painless heart attacks are less obvious, causing many doctors to dismiss them as heartburn. Victims of this medical malpractice are mainly women since their heart attack symptoms are often confused with malaise or fatigue.

*Lyme Disease*Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that is transmitted through a deer tick bite. The disease can cause symptoms like fever, fatigue, rash, and joint pain. People may also develop eye inflammation, liver inflammation, and heart problems weeks after contracting the infection. Lyme disease mimics flu, chronic fatigue syndrome, and mononucleosis, making it hard for a doctor to diagnose this disease accurately.

Even though there is no known cure for Lyme disease, early detection can help in the treatment and management of its symptoms.

*Strokes*As mentioned, cardiovascular conditions are hard to diagnose. Many doctors assume that people under 60 do not have strokes. Doctors often misdiagnose younger patients suffering from strokes with migraines, alcohol intoxication, or vertigo. Failure to diagnose a stroke can cause a more severe and catastrophic episode.

*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 Kent, contact Pivotal Law Group, PLLC. The sooner you reach out to us, the sooner we start fighting for you.

Proving Liability in a Bellevue Truck Crash Claim

Posted Friday, April 28, 2023 by Chris Thayer

The sheer amount of force in a semi-truck wreck, not to mention the fact that these vehicles carry hundreds of gallons of diesel fuel, often causes catastrophic injuries. The economic losses alone in such a case usually exceed $150,000. It is almost impossible to put a price tag on the noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. These cases are even more complex because, as outlined below, they usually involve another layer of liability.

Because of all these difficulties, only the most experienced Bellevue personal injury lawyer should handle a truck crash claim. All too often, inexperienced lawyers are not prepared for all the legal and factual issues in a truck crash claim. So, they look for a quick settlement or an easy way out. Since so much money is at stake, settling for less is simply not an option for most truck crash victims.

*First Party Liability*Legal responsibility for a truck crash begins with the duty of care. Most drivers have a duty of reasonable care. But Washington law holds truck drivers to a higher standard since they are professional drivers with additional training and experience. Instead of a duty of reasonable care, truck drivers and other professional drivers have a duty of utmost care.

The law reflects this difference. Most highways have lower speed limits for semi-trucks than passenger vehicles. Additionally, truckers must comply with strict weight and other limits.

The higher duty of care makes it easier for a Bellevue personal injury lawyer to prove negligence, or a lack of care. That negligence is usually driver impairment or aggressive driving.

Truck driver fatigue is a serious issue. After eighteen consecutive awake hours, motor skills and judgment ability impairment are equivalent to alcohol intoxication impairment. Shortcuts, like drinking coffee, help drowsy drivers feel more alert. But these shortcuts don’t address the underlying effects of fatigue.

Speaking of shortcuts, many truckers use amphetamines to stave off the effects of fatigue. These drugs help alertness, but they further impair judgment ability. Additionally, when these drugs wear off, users crash very fast and very hard.

Aggressive driving, like unsafe turning, also causes many truck crashes. Truckers often operate in unfamiliar areas. Sudden road changes, like a right-turn-only lane, often catch them off guard, even if they are using a GPS navigation system. Today’s trucks are so huge that even a slight emergency move could cause the truck to careen out of control.

*Third-Party Liability*The aforementioned additional layer is respondeat superior employer liability. Drivers are legally responsible for the wrecks they cause. The transportation, shipping, or other company that owns the truck or the cargo is financially responsible for the damages these crashes cause, at least in most cases.

Respondeat superior applies if the tortfeasor (negligent driver) was an employee who was working within the course and scope of employment. State law broadly defines these key terms. For example, many truckers are independent contractors or owner-operators for most financial purposes. But these truckers are employees for negligence purposes since the company controls their behavior to a certain extent.

Other employer liability theories, which often apply in assault and other intentional tort cases, include negligent hiring and negligent supervision.

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

What is the Difference Between a TBI and an ABI in Issaquah?

Posted Friday, April 21, 2023 by Chris Thayer

Traumatic Brain Injuries and Acquired Brain Injuries send over one million people to hospital emergency rooms every year. All too often, doctors prematurely release these patients, usually without even keeping them overnight. ABI and TBI symptoms often mimic the symptoms of other conditions, like accident shock and fatigue. So, in these cases, doctors often tell patients to go home and rest. As a result, their brain injuries get worse.

If negligence caused a TBI or medical malpractice caused an ABI, an Issaquah personal injury lawyer can obtain the financial compensation these victims need and deserve. Brain injuries usually mean sky-high medical bills, and victims must be able to pay these bills. Furthermore, these victims deserve compensation, so they can live the rest of their lives in the best way possible.

*TBIs and Ordinary Negligence*Car crashes are the leading cause of brain injuries in King County. Driver negligence causes most car wrecks.

No safety system, no matter how advanced, can absorb all the force in a high-speed wreck. Seatbelts, airbags, and other systems reduce the risk of blunt force trauma head injuries, but they certainly don’t eliminate that risk.

Furthermore, blunt force often does not cause collision-related head injuries. Instead, sudden violent motion causes them. When the head snaps backward and forward, the brain slams against the insides of the skull.

Aggressive driving, like speeding, and impaired driving, like drunk driving, are usually negligence. These behaviors may not be malicious, but they are certainly not accidental. People do not accidentally speed or get behind the wheel while intoxicated, at least in most cases.

Property owners have a duty of care as well. Typically, they must ensure that the premises are free from fall or other injury hazards. If they know about, or should know about, such a defect and do not immediately remedy the problem, an Issaquah personal injury lawyer 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.

*ABIs and Professional Negligence*Chronic illnesses, like cancer, often cause acquired brain injuries. Since they have so much education and training, doctors have a fiduciary duty. They must disregard other priorities, like getting home on time and making money, and only do what’s best for their patients.

Misdiagnosis is one of the most common kinds of ABI-causing professional negligence. When it comes to cancer, most doctors focus on genetic and lifestyle markers. If the patient has neither, cancer isn’t even a possibility, as far as the doctor is concerned. As a result, the cancer misdiagnosis rate may be as high as 50 percent.

In addition to the compensatory damages mentioned above, these victims often receive additional punitive damages. These damages are available if there is clear and convincing evidence that the tortfeasor (negligent actor) intentionally disregarded a known risk.

*Count on a Thorough 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. The sooner you reach out to us, the sooner we start fighting for you.

Legal Issues in a Mercer Island Pedestrian Accident

Posted Friday, April 14, 2023 by Chris Thayer

In 2021, the number of fatal pedestrian accidents in Washington hit a 40-year high. Speed-related accidents and child fatalities were the major driving forces. Excessive velocity is a primary factor in pedestrian crashes, to say the least. The pedestrian fatality rate jumps from 10% at impact speeds of 20mph to 90% at impact speeds of over 50mph. The increased child fatalities suggest that children were not just in crosswalks coming home from school anymore, especially during pandemic lockdowns.

Since pedestrians have no protection from oncoming cars, these incidents usually cause serious injuries. A Mercer Island personal injury attorney can obtain compensation for the economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering, these incidents cause. Perhaps more importantly, legal action forces tortfeasors (negligent drivers) to accept responsibility for these incidents.

*Making a Case*The legal issues in a crosswalk pedestrian accident are often straightforward. In many cases, Washington law requires drivers to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians in crosswalks, whether they have the light or not.

There is some dispute as to what constitutes “in” a crosswalk. Generally, however, courts require the victim to be at least a third of the way across the street in these situations.

If a tortfeasor violates a safety law and causes injury, the tortfeasor could be legally responsible for the crash as a matter of law, under the negligence per se rule. Significantly, this rule only applies if an emergency responder issues a citation. That may or may not happen in these cases.

So, in many crosswalk pedestrian accidents, as well as all non-crosswalk pedestrian accidents, a Mercer Island personal injury attorney must use the ordinary negligence doctrines to obtain compensation. This doctrine has four basic prongs:

  • Duty: The duty of reasonable care, which applies to most noncommercial drivers in Washington, requires them to avoid accidents, including collisions with pedestrians, if at all possible.
  • Breach: Common breaches (violations) of the duty of care include aggressive driving and impaired driving. We mentioned the most common kind of aggressive driving (speeding) above. Driver impairment includes driving under the influence of alcohol or while dangerously fatigued.
  • Cause: Compensation is available if there is a connection between the breach and the damages, or cause-in-fact. Additionally, victims/plaintiffs must prove foreseeability (possibility) of injury. If Mike hits Rick, who flies through a plate glass window and strikes Alice, her injury was not foreseeable.
  • Damages: Most victims must sustain a tangible injury, no matter how slight, to obtain compensation. Negligent infliction of emotional distress or a similar claim may be available in non-physical injury cases.

A Mercer Island personal injury lawyer must prove every element of an ordinary negligence case by a preponderance of the evidence, or more likely than not.

*Overcoming Defenses*Comparative fault and sudden emergency are probably the two most common insurance company defenses in a pedestrian accident claim.

Basically, comparative fault is the victim’s failure to watch where s/he was going. If the victim crosses the street without looking both ways, the law may reduce the amount of compensation the tortfeasor, or rather the tortfeasor’s insurance company, must pay.

Sudden emergency excuses negligence if the tortfeasor reasonably reacted to a sudden emergency, which the law defines as a completely unexpected situation, like a hood fly-up. A jaywalking pedestrian is not a sudden emergency. Instead, it is an everyday hazard, like a large pothole.

*Connect With a Tough-Minded 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. The sooner you reach out to us, the sooner we start fighting for you.