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

Personal Injury in Nursing Homes

Posted Friday, November 8, 2019 by Chris Thayer

Alternative TextWhile placing a loved one in a nursing home is always a difficult decision, family members take solace in the idea that every nursing home has a moral and legal obligation to care for its residents. Two million Americans live in nursing homes or assisted living facilities, and sadly, nursing home abuse is on the rise. Learning the signs of elder abuse can help you ensure that your loved one is always safe.

*Federal Law *In 1987, Congress passed the Nursing Home Reform Act. According to this federal law, nursing home residents have the right to the following:

  • Right to privacy
  • Appropriate physical, mental, and social services
  • Free communication and participation with family, residents, and the community
  • Dignity and respect
  • Freedom from abuse, neglect and physical restraint
  • Decision-making authority with regard to their health and finances (where appropriate)
  • Ability to file a complaint without fear of retaliation

*Signs of Elder Abuse*Unfortunately, the statistics show that personal injury and abuse to elders in nursing homes and long term care facilities are underreported, widespread, and increasing. Knowing the signs of elder abuse can help you spot it in your loved ones, and hopefully, prevent any negligence on behalf of the nursing home or nursing home staff.

*Physical Changes
Elder abuse may be present if the following physical changes are present:

  • Broken bones without explanation (or fractured bones)
  • Unexplained infections
  • Failure to wash sheets or clothing
  • Challenges to normal sleep habits
  • Failure to bathe your loved one or keep them clean
  • Weight Loss
  • Dehydration or Malnutrition
  • Bedsores
  • Overmedication or Oversedation
  • Bruises
  • Physical markings unrelated to any illness
  • Torn or ripped clothing
  • Injury in or around the genital area (possible sexual abuse)
  • Newly developed sexually transmitted disease

*Emotional Changes *While many seniors have dementia, drastic emotional or mental changes that occur suddenly can signal elder abuse. Acting out against family and friends could be a sign or way that an elderly loved one is trying to communicate distress without retaliation from the nursing home staff. Blaming themselves for small problems, refusing to participate in activities, fear around the staff, mental regression, or visible anger or depression can all be signs of abuse.

*Financial Changes
Oftentimes, the family will be in charge of all finances. However, some nursing home residents will still maintain a certain amount of independence regarding their finances, spending or even their legal documents. If you notice that a last will and testament has changed, or money missing from a bank account unexpectedly, there may be a nursing staff member manipulating your elderly loved one.

*Negligent Behavior by the Nursing Home Staff*If your phone calls are going unanswered, the staff seems disorganized or secretive, your questions remain unanswered regarding living conditions or medication, or the nursing home is making it somehow challenging to visit your elderly loved one, you may be experienced warning signs of an attempt to cover up elder abuse.

*Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney *Your elderly loved one deserves respect, dignity, and care. Abuse of the elderly is not only morally wrong, but it is also an illegal act, punishable by law. Your loved one may have a fading memory, and it is always important to contact an experienced attorney right away while they still remember the facts and circumstances of their abuse. Contact our legal team at the Pivotal Law Group at 206-340-2008 or online today to learn your options, and how we can help you with your nursing home abuse case for your loved one.

Personal Injuries Due to Boating Accidents

Posted Friday, November 1, 2019 by Chris Thayer

Alternative TextThe state of Washington enjoys beautiful views of the ocean, and many take to the water for recreation. However, the United States Coast Guard indicates that there were over 4,000 boating accidents in the United States last year, leading to thousands of injuries and hundreds of deaths. If you were injured in a boating accident, knowing your rights can help you determine if you can receive compensation for your injuries.

*Federal Boating Laws*Washington state has enacted laws specific to the operation of water vessels and boats. However, in 1971, Congress passed the Federal Boat Safety Act. This federal law includes requirements for registration as well as navigational rules and regulations for boats. Depending on where your boating accident occurred, there also may be a chance that admiralty law may also apply. The laws regarding boating accidents in Washington state can be challenging to understand. Contacting an attorney who specializes in boating accidents and personal injury can help you determine which laws will apply in your case.

*Types of Boating Accidents *Coast Guard reports show that most boating accidents happen when operators have little to no formal boating instruction or safety training. Learning safety rules, taking formal instruction, and always wearing a life vest can help you possibly prevent an accident. However, the following are the most common causes of boating accidents on the waterways.

  • Distracted boat operator
  • Negligent, reckless, or careless boat operation
  • Slippery boat deck
  • Negligent maintenance of a boat
  • No safety gear
  • Inadequate safety gear
  • Operation of a boat under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Collision between boats or vessels
  • Vessel or boat hits a wake or another boat’s wake
  • Collision with an underwater object
  • Overload of passengers
  • Bad weather
  • Boat operator has restricted vision
  • Congested waterways
  • Inexperience of boat operator
  • Boat equipment failure

Unfortunately, many of these accidents are preventable. Twenty percent of all boating deaths include the use of alcohol.

*Proving Negligence*In order to prove negligence in a boating accident case, four elements must be met.

  • Duty: A boat operator has a duty to operate a boat or vessel in a safe manner according to all state and federal laws and regulations.
  • Breach of Duty: If the boat operator is negligent, reckless, or careless in any way during the operation of the boat that leads to an accident, they have breached that duty.
  • Causation: The direct cause of your injuries must be due to the breach of duty from the other boat operator.
  • Damages: You must have suffered actual damages.

*Contact a Boating Accident Lawyer*If you were involved in a boating accident in the state of Washington and suffered injuries, you may have the right to recover compensation. Depending on your case, you may have the right to receive monetary recovery for medical bills, lost wages, or even pain and suffering. Contact a boating accident lawyer that specializes in personal injury law at the Pivotal Law Group at 206-340-2008 or online today to learn your options and how we can help you build a strong case.

Road Rage Injuries on the Rise

Posted Friday, October 25, 2019 by Chris Thayer

Alternative TextRecent studies have shown that road rage incidents are on the rise nationally. According to a CNN report this year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has revealed data showing that road rage incidents resulting in fatalities have increased 500% in the years between 2006 and 2016. Sadly, when aggressive driving and road rage occur, insurance companies often use a little-known and little-understood insurance tactic to avoid paying for the damages that are caused.

Imagine someone being intentionally run off the road, killed or maimed by the accident, then the insurance company claiming that no coverage should extend. Sadly, it happens all the time. If you or someone you care about should ever suffer a road rage injury, auto accident attorneys in Seattle may be able to help you recover more quickly and receive maximum compensation for the damages.

*What Exactly is Road Rage?* Road rage is exactly what it sounds like; it is aggressive and unsafe driving caused by drivers getting so angry that they intentionally use their vehicle to intimidate, harass, or threaten others on the road. Road rage can escalate quickly. Just consider the example of the recent road rage shooting that took place near Tiger Mountain and ended at the Issaquah Hobart Road exit. When people get angry while driving, they often forget that they are operating heavy machinery at high speeds. In some cases, people even get out of their cars and fight or they use firearms to “settle the score” on the road.

*Road Rage and Insurance Coverage* Almost all insurance contracts have some provision allowing the insurance company to deny coverage where the injury is the result of an intentional or criminal act. In other words, we all buy car insurance to protect ourselves. If we should accidentally or even negligently injure someone while behind the wheel, this insurance kicks in to hire a lawyer to defend us and pay for any liability we may have. The amount of insurance we purchase is the limit of what the insurance company must pay to protect us. If the liability is in excess of that amount, we can still be sued, but we would be on the hook for the difference between coverage limits and the judgment.

Insurance coverage is there to protect us from situations in which we are careless or negligent – not when we commit crimes. Therefore, insurance policies are written to exclude intentional acts of violence. For this reason, when a person gets out of his or her car and begins assaulting someone, insurance coverage often stops.

*How to Collect Insurance When Injured by Road Rage* Often, the injuries are compounded. First, the victim is hurt by a collision, then the victim receives other injuries during a roadside assault. An insurance company will try to attribute the majority of the injuries to the assault, while downplaying the injuries from the crash. It is very important to hire an experienced attorney immediately, so that you can focus and get the insurance company to pay.

The attorneys of Pivotal Law Group have decades of experience helping victims of aggressive driving accidents recover money for their injuries. To protect your rights, call or visit us online today.

Three Ways to Prove Your Wage Loss Claim in a Personal Injury Case

Posted Friday, October 18, 2019 by Chris Thayer

Alternative TextIf you have been hurt in a Seattle auto accident, you may already realize that you have some options for getting help with the insurance claim. Do you know what you will need to provide in order to prove your injuries and damages? Most people do not. Fortunately, skilled auto accident lawyers may be able to help shed some light on the process and make sense of the situation. Lost wages are just one type of damage that you can try to recover, and there are generally a few great ways to help prove your lost wage claim.

*Written Verification From Employer* Perhaps the simplest way to prove your loss of income from a car accident is to obtain verification from your employer. Most employers are fairly reasonable, and a personnel or human resources department can complete a form (usually provided by your attorney), stating your income, number of days missed, and total loss of compensation. Keep in mind, however, that this is merely for settlement purposes. Such a document is generally not going to work at trial, but it is typically enough to help an insurance company understand the amount of work you missed.

*Pay Stubs* The second type of proof is your pay stub. This can be a tricky one, though. For employees who work hourly wage positions and miss a number of days due to their injuries, showing pay stubs from a few weeks prior to the injury, as well as the pay stub for the pay period when the accident occurred, can help an insurance company acknowledge that you did indeed see a diminished income as a result of the injury. Take caution, though, if you have a history of poor attendance, missed a lot of days before the crash, or were terminated for too many absences unrelated to your injury. In that case, your pay stubs may do more harm than good.

*Affidavits and Testimony* There are two types of testimony recognized in the law – written and oral. Written testimony is in the form of signed affidavits that are made under oath. Oral testimony is sworn and done in court or a deposition. If your injury case is poised to go to trial, it may be necessary to produce a written and signed affidavit from your employer or accountant or someone else familiar with your regular income. The affidavit should set forth your:

  • Rate of pay
  • Frequency of pay
  • Time absent from work due to injury
  • Total compensation not paid for these periods

If the case is tried before a jury, the person signing the affidavit may even have to come to court and openly testify about it.

*Collecting All Damages Available to You* If you are injured in Washington State, there are specific jury instructions that will be used to govern how you must prove your damages. Never leave money on the table by trying to pursue a claim alone. Contact Pivotal Law Group to discuss your injuries free of charge. Our team can help you understand all of the potential options you have for collecting compensation after an injury.

Do Medical Malpractice Lawsuits Increase Insurance Premiums?

Posted Friday, October 11, 2019 by Chris Thayer

Sadly, like just about everything in public discourse today, the issue of rising insurance premiums is the source of much heated debate. On one hand, healthcare organizations and physicians’ groups frequently decry malpractice lawsuits as driving up premiums and sending doctors packing out of Washington State. On the other hand, consumer watch groups and other research-based entities have repeatedly debunked these myths. Ultimately, the answers are quite straightforward and easy to find.

Experienced medical malpractice attorneys who work in the industry everyday understand that bad medical care happens all too often. Doctors misdiagnose, injure, and sometimes kill their patients, yet more often than not, they face little if any consequences from the medical boards. Consider a few important statistics and facts about this issue.

*Understanding Insurance Generally* Before someone can really debate the issue of insurance premiums and malpractice lawsuits, first they need to understand how insurance actually works. Insurance companies purchase risk. It is legalized gambling. The insurance company is trying to figure out how likely a particular doctor or hospital will be sued and, if they are, what the likely annual cost of those lawsuits will be. So, if there are more lawsuits, the costs will be higher. If there are more costs to pay out, then yes, premiums are going up. But this only tells part of the story. It explains how the premiums go up, but it does not explain why there are more claims and lawsuits.

*Malpractice Statistics* A while back in 2005 during heated tort reform debates, the watchdog group Public Citizen released a detailed analysis of some of the problems with blaming patients for physician errors. In their report, they explained that the real problem may actually be repeat offenders, as they called them. These are doctors and other healthcare providers who repeatedly are sued and have high-cost claims, yet they go undisciplined by any review boards. They even outlined numerous examples of doctors who have had upwards of four or five clear acts of malpractice resulting in millions of dollars in settlements and verdicts in the span of only a few years, yet these same doctors went undisciplined. This means they keep practicing and keep hurting people.

*Third Leading Cause of Death in America* What is the third leading cause of death in the U.S.? bet you did not guess medical errors? A recent Johns Hopkins study revealed that this is actually true. The research showed that over 250,000 people in this country die annually as a direct result of medical errors and malpractice. Some surveys have suggested numbers as high as 440,000 per year.

Either way, when medical mistakes are mounting at an alarming rate and people are being disfigured, permanently injured, and even killed due to poor medical care, then yes, doctors and hospitals will be sued more. The real question is, should society blame the innocent patient who suffered, their family who must live with the trauma, the health insurance companies that must foot the bill to treat injuries, or the negligent healthcare professional?

For those suffering from serious or fatal medical errors in Washington State, turn to Pivotal Law Group for compassionate and skilled guidance. For a free consultation with one of our experienced medical malpractice attorneys, call or visit us online today.