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

Coping With Shoulder Pain After a Car Accident

Posted Friday, May 14, 2021 by Chris Thayer

Car accidents can be physically and personally catastrophic to those involved. The shoulder, despite being a critical and foundational joint, is actually quite fragile. While seatbelts absolutely keep us safer during an accident, protecting our heads and organs from serious trauma, that often comes at a cost to our shoulders. The intense force and impact placed on the shoulder during an accident can result in a number of forms of trauma to the shoulder, including tears, fractures, soft tissue and tendon injuries, and dislocations.

*Seek Medical Attention *Depending on the type of shoulder injury you have sustained, it may or may not become apparent to you immediately following an accident. A fracture or dislocation will likely result in immediate and debilitating pain and discomfort, requiring urgent medical attention, while soft tissue injuries and even tears may take longer for someone to notice. This is in part because high levels of adrenaline, triggered by a fight-or-flight response, can dull our pain signals, and in part because tears and soft tissue injuries may not register as a serious problem at the time, particularly if we have other injuries sending more urgent pain signals.

Regardless of your level of pain, if you are experiencing any stiffness, pain, or discomfort in your shoulder following a crash, it is critical to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Even if you are tempted to shrug off the discomfort or write it off as “nothing serious,” it is important to treat it as though it might be, because you really cannot know at that point how a minor discomfort will grow or evolve and shoulder injuries are often serious and debilitating. The longer you leave a shoulder ache or pain uninvestigated, the more serious it can become. Additionally, the longer you wait to seek medical attention following a crash, the harder it is to prove that it was the crash (and not some other intervening event) that caused the harm.

*What if I Did Not Seek Medical Attention? *Even if you did not seek medical attention right after the accident, it is important to see a doctor as soon as you begin experiencing symptoms and follow their advice regarding treatment. The longer you wait after you begin experiencing symptoms, the less serious your injury will seem. After all, if you were on a jury and someone said they were experiencing pain but sought no relief or help, you might also assume their pain could not have been too debilitating. Another way to begin developing a paper trail at this point is to keep a journal or log of your symptoms, pain level, and how they are impacting your daily life. It is also important to contact a lawyer as soon as possible so that they can begin to help you navigate this process and develop the best possible path forward.

*Talk to a Seattle Personal Injury Lawyer *If you have suffered a serious or debilitating injury in a Bellevue, Kent, Rento, Burien, Mercer Island, Issaquah, or greater Seattle area car accident, the experienced personal injury lawyers at Pivotal Law Group are ready to zealously advocate on your behalf and help you get the compensation that you are entitled to. Call today and schedule a personalized consultation.

What to Do After a Seattle Car Accident

Posted Friday, May 7, 2021 by Chris Thayer

Collisions are jarring when they happen. Even if you were not seriously injured, car accidents can still be physically and financially catastrophic, and it is not uncommon to find yourself gripping the wheel in a state of shock, unsure of how to proceed. Luckily, the more you familiarize yourself with the steps to take after a vehicle collision, the more you will internalize them and be able to rely on that knowledge in an emergency.

*Breathe * This may sound like unnecessary advice, but I promise, it is not. Following a car accident, your central nervous system will be in a state of fight-or-flight, making rational thinking difficult and pain signals less strong (meaning you can be injured and not realize because you don’t feel the pain). Take a deep breath to activate your parasympathetic nervous system and ground yourself. Scan your body, paying careful attention to anywhere that you feel pain or discomfort. Note that sometimes it takes soft tissue injuries days or weeks to appear, so taking a moment to tune into your body and really pay attention to how you feel can catch injuries that your eyes or drowned-out pain signals might otherwise miss. This becomes relevant because injuries that are not reported at the scene can be harder to prove later on when you need coverage. Something as simple as mentioning that your neck does not feel right can help ensure that you will receive coverage for the treatment should that off-feeling later turn out to be a slipped disk or other serious injury.

*Decide if You Need to Call the Police * In Washington State you are not required to call the police about every accident. However, if anyone has been injured, you should call the police immediately. Additionally, if there is more than $1,000 in damage you are legally required to report the collision to the police. You should also call the police if the vehicles are obstructing traffic, unable to be moved from the roadway, or if the collision has left debris in the road that could pose a risk for other drivers.

*Collect Documentation * While you wait for the police to come, it is a good time to photograph the scene of the accident, including any damage to vehicles involved and license plates of all involved vehicles. It is also a good idea to photograph the driver’s license, insurance information, and vehicle registration of any other drivers involved. It can be better to photograph the documents as opposed to trying to write down the information because errors in transcription are likely when nerves are high. It is also a good idea to get names and contact information for any bystanders or other drivers who witnessed the accident. This will be helpful information for police and insurance adjusters.

*Seek Medical Attention ASAP* Many people think they can put off seeking medical attention after an accident if their injuries do not seem “serious,” however, it is often possible that injuries are far more serious than they seem. Concussions, internal bleeding, hemorrhage, whiplash, and other spinal cord injuries are often not visible, but can be life-threatening if left untreated. Additionally, the longer you wait to seek medical attention after the crash, the more you are sending the message (to insurance adjusters, judge, and jury) that you do not believe your injuries are serious. It also becomes harder to establish the causal link between the accident and the injury as more time and possible causal events elapse in between.

*Talk to a Seattle Personal Injury Lawyer * If you have been injured in a vehicle collision that was not your fault in Bellevue, Kent, Rento, Burien, Mercer Island, Issaquah, or the greater Seattle area, the experienced personal injury attorneys at Pivotal Law Group are ready to zealously advocate on your behalf and get you the compensation that you deserve. Call today to schedule a consultation.

Establishing Liability for Summertime Pool Injuries

Posted Friday, April 30, 2021 by Chris Thayer

Summertime is fast approaching, and it cannot come soon enough. However, with increased temperatures come more pool openings and more pool-related injuries. Unfortunately, while pools are fun and refreshing, they also carry a great amount of liability and risk. According to the CDC, young children and elderly adults are the most likely to suffer debilitating poolside injuries and deaths. With pools often being surrounded by slippery hard surfaces, it is easy to understand how so many injuries occur. Poolside injuries are a slippery slope, as a debilitating poolside injury can quickly turn into an accidental drowning, over 3,500 such deaths occur each year, and the number is rising.

*Common Pool Injuries * The consequences of a poolside slip-and-fall accident can range from minor to fatal. If someone slips and hits their head on hard concrete, it can result in a traumatic brain injury. Some of the most dangerous accidents occur when someone slips, hits their head, is knocked unconscious, and ends up in an unsupervised pool. Far too many deaths occur this way, and they are preventable.

Depending on how an individual falls, a poolside slip can result in anything from a broken or sprained ankle to partial or complete paralysis. If someone lands on their back, spinal cord injuries, such as fractures, herniated disks, bursitis, and even a broken back can occur. Sprained and broken bones, particularly the ankles, wrists, arm, and hip, are common.

In addition to slip-and-fall accidents, there are many other common injuries due to pools. For example, improperly balanced pool chemicals can result in chemical burns, blindness, and painful reactions. Electrocution and accidental drowning are also possible. It is important to exercise caution when deciding where to swim, rather than assuming that all pools are safe.

*Should I Sue for a Pool Injury?* If you or a loved one has suffered a pool-related injury or even death, a lawsuit can allow you to recover all costs associated with your injury. You are likely to succeed in your lawsuit if you can show that the pool owner’s negligence contributed to causing your injury. If the owners failed to warn (verbally or on signs) of the slippery pool surface and did not take precautions to mitigate the risk, they will likely be liable for your injuries.

*The Benefits of a Lawsuit * A successful personal injury lawsuit aims to place you in the position you would have been in had the injury not occurred. This can include compensation for all costs related to past and future medical treatment for the injury, lost wages, reduced earning potential, loss of consortium, loss of enjoyment of life, and funeral and burial expenses if applicable. Additionally, you can receive compensation for the non-economic damages of pain and suffering, which aims to compensate you for the physical and emotional trauma you have suffered as a result of the accident. Additionally, in some cases, where the pool-owners’s conduct was particularly reckless or malicious, punitive damages may also be appropriate.

*Talk to a Seattle Personal Injury Lawyer * If you have suffered an injury as a result of a preventable pool injury, the Seattle personal injury lawyers Pivotal Law Group can help you get the compensation to which you are entitled. Serving Bellevue, Kent, Renton, Burien, Mercer Island, Issaquah, and all surrounding areas, Pivotal Law Group is ready to help you achieve the best possible outcome in your case. Call today to schedule a consultation.

Seattle Man Killed in Skydiving Accident

Posted Friday, April 23, 2021 by Chris Thayer

A 27-year-old man from Seattle tragically died earlier this week in a skydiving accident while jumping with Kapowsin Air Sports in Shelton. According to local police, the man jumped from the plane and opened his parachute without incident. He then began performing stunts with his parachute. Police stated that the man performed a stunt too close to the ground, causing his entire body to hit the ground with great force. He is believed to have died on impact. The FAA is currently investigating the crash. However, their investigation is limited to the packing of the primary and reserve parachutes, and the flight rules for the captain and crew on the plane.

*Liability for Skydiving Accidents * If you have been skydiving or participated in anything remotely risky, you have almost certainly been asked to sign a liability waiver. These waivers can be broad, intimidating, and full of legalese, but you probably grasped that you were signing away your right to sue if something went wrong. Well, not exactly. Just because you signed a liability waiver does not mean you are out of options. You are legally entitled to a reasonable duty of care regardless of any waiver you sign. If the skydiving company breaches their duty of care by acting in a way that is grossly negligent, it is illegal. As you cannot contract to accept illegal behavior (the same way you cannot legally give someone permission to shoot you) a waiver does nothing to insulate a skydiving company from their own gross negligence.

In the case above, it is unclear whether negligence may have been at play. While it seems like there was not an issue with the diver’s parachute or equipment, it is unclear whether he was given proper training prior to jumping. Skydiving companies can be found grossly negligent if they fail to provide reasonable guidance and training. However, if he was an experienced skydiver who had jumped with them before, it is unlikely that they would be found responsible for this outcome.

*Overcoming Liability Waivers * As noted above, it is possible to overcome liability waivers when the company has been grossly negligent or otherwise failed to meet the reasonable standard of care owed to their patrons. In another case, a man died when his parachute failed to open. Although the man was an experienced skydiver, he had just had his parachute packed by the skydiving facility prior to jumping. The court found that the skydiver was allowed to rely on the professional expertise of the skydiving facility, and was not required to conduct an independent check of the parachute pack. Further, the court found that by incorrectly packing and knotting the parachute, the facility had failed to meet their reasonable duty of care to the skydiver. While the facility had a liability waiver that they thought was iron-clad (so much so that they did not even purchase liability insurance), the court found that the waiver did not protect them from the consequences of their illegal negligence. The facility was bankrupted by the proceedings.

*Talk to an Attorney * If you have been injured in a Seattle accident due to another’s negligence, you do not have to bear the burden alone. The experienced personal injury lawyers at Pivotal Law are here to help. Call today and schedule a consultation.

Seattle Couple Killed in Crash by Drunk Driver, Leaving Children Orphans

Posted Friday, April 16, 2021 by Chris Thayer

An intoxicated 26-year-old Seattle woman is blamed for causing a violent crash that claimed the lives of a beloved Seattle couple and left their children orphans. According to police, the woman was allegedly driving erratically and under the influence of alcohol with her own 3-year-old son in her car with her when she side-swiped a vehicle, fled the scene, and then crashed into the West Seattle couple’s car, killing them both instantly. She then again fled the scene.

The couple, who were both artists, are now being fondly remembered as the community rallies around their now-orphaned children. The drunk driver now awaits arraignment on a slew of charges, including vehicular homicide.

*Recovering for Wrongful Death in Washington State * If you have lost a loved one due to a tragic accident that could have been avoided if not for someone else’s negligent, reckless, or malicious behavior, you may feel that nothing could help remedy the loss. While civil lawsuits cannot keep the accident from happening or mitigate the pain, they can repair the financial damages caused by the loss. While the criminal justice system aims to punish and rehabilitate the offender, the civil law system aims to restore the victims financially by putting them back in the position they would have been in had the accident never occurred. This can include compensation for all costs related to the treatment, death, and funeral, as well as for lost wages/economic support, and non-economic damages, like loss of companionship, consortium, enjoyment of life, loss of services, and pain and suffering.

Punitive damages, rather than purely serving to reimburse the victim’s family, are also intended to punish the offender. For this reason, they often apply in cases where the conduct was particularly egregious or malicious. Punitive damages would be likely if the case above were to go to trial.

*Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death Claims in Washington State * If you are considering bringing a wrongful death claim on behalf of a loved one, it is important first, to know if you have standing, and second, not to wait too long. In order to bring a wrongful death claim on behalf of another, you must have standing. This means that you must share a special relationship with the decedent such that you have the right to represent their best interests in court. In Washington state, spouses, domestic partners, children, and stepchildren of a decedent have standing to pursue a wrongful death claim on the decedent’s behalf. The next question is whether they still have time to file the claim. Washington state has a time limit on how long you have to bring wrongful death claims, known as the statute of limitations. In most cases in Washington state, a wrongful death claim must be brought within three years of the date of death. However, if someone is injured in an accident and later passes away as a result of their injuries, it is possible that the statute of limitations will run from the accident, rather than from the date of death.

*Talk to a Seattle Personal Injury Lawyer * If you have lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligence or recklessness, you are entitled to compensation for your loss, and the experienced Personal Injury Lawyers at Pivotal Law are prepared to zealously advocate on your behalf to ensure you get the support and compensation you deserve. Contact Pivotal Law Firm today to schedule a consultation.