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

Breaking Down a Motorcycle Crash in Burien

Posted Friday, April 7, 2023 by Chris Thayer

Mostly because motorcyclists have so little personal protection, the motorcycle rider fatality rate is 30 times higher than the four-wheel vehicle occupant collision fatality rate. Even if these victims survive, they usually sustain serious injuries, like severe broken bones and head injuries. Riders generally sustain these injuries when the force of an impact propels them off their biles and onto the ground.

The medical bills in a catastrophic (life-threatening) injury case often exceed $100,000. Furthermore, these victims understandably have a hard time putting these accidents behind them and moving on with their lives. A Burien personal injury lawyer obtains compensation for both economic and noneconomic losses in court. Perhaps more importantly, an attorney forces tortfeasors (negligent drivers) to accept responsibility for the mistakes they make.

*What Causes Motorcycle Wrecks?*These mistakes, which include aggressive and impaired driving, cause over 98% of vehicle collisions in Washington.

Illegal turning, speeding, and other forms of aggressive driving affect motorcyclists a lot more than four-wheel vehicles. Motorcycle riders cannot swerve or stop suddenly to avoid aggressive drivers. If they do so, they usually lose control of their bikes, causing a worse crash than the one they prevented.

Aggressive driving behaviors accelerated during coronavirus lockdowns since traffic enforcement dropped to nearly nothing and roads mostly emptied.

Pandemic lockdowns created some other bad driving habits as well, such as driving while intoxicated. Alcohol is a depressant that clouds judgment and slows reaction time. People need to be 100% in both areas to safely operate motor vehicles and other heavy machinery.

Other kinds of impaired driving include driving while fatigued, under the influence of drugs, or while distracted. Usually, these tortfeasors consciously make such decisions and therefore deliberately put other people at risk. As a result, a Burien personal injury lawyer can usually obtain higher compensation in these matters.

*Establishing Liability*Aggressive and impaired driving usually violates safety laws. If a safety law violation caused injury, the tortfeasor might be responsible for damages as a matter of law.

However, the negligence per se rule only applies if emergency responders gave the tortfeasor a citation. That often doesn’t happen. Frequently, car crashes are civil matters, as far as most officers are concerned. So, they rarely issue citations and get involved in these disputes.

The ordinary negligence rule is available in these cases. Liability for the crash attaches if the tortfeasor:

  • Had a legal duty to drive defensively,
  • Breached that duty by driving aggressively or while impaired,
  • The breach substantially caused injury, and
  • The victim sustained tangible personal injury or property damage.

Some exceptions apply. For example, the negligent infliction of emotional distress doctrine sometimes applies in near-miss collisions.

Overcoming Defenses

Comparative fault and assumption of the risk are the two most common insurance company defenses in motorcycle crash claims.

Contributory negligence basically shifts blame for an accident from the tortfeasor to the victim. Attorneys use evidence to blunt this defense. This evidence must emphasize the things the victim did right and the things the tortfeasor did wrong.

Assumption of the risk, or the motorcycle helmet defense, is effective in some states. Generally, if victims don’t wear helmets, insurance company lawyers can blame the victims for their own injuries. But in King County, evidence of motorcycle helmet non-use is inadmissible in civil proceedings.

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

Head Injury Diagnosis and Treatment Issues on Mercer Island

Posted Friday, March 31, 2023 by Chris Thayer

Car crashes are the leading cause of head injuries in the United States. These wounds kill over 60,000 Americans every year. The violent motion of a car crash, as opposed to a trauma impact, usually causes a TBI. The human brain is not much bigger than a clenched fist. This motion causes it to slam against the insides of the skulls.

These injuries are degenerative. As brain bleeding continues, initial symptoms, like confusion and disorientation, become more advanced symptoms, like constant severe headaches and personality changes. When symptoms get to that point, advanced effects, like dementia and death, aren’t far away.

Because of the serious nature of these injuries, victims are entitled to substantial compensation. A Mercer Island personal injury attorney fights for this compensation in court. This tenacious stance enables most lawyers to resolve these claims out of court and on victim-friendly terms.

*Head Injury Diagnosis*We mentioned initial head injury symptoms above. These symptoms are almost the exact same symptoms as accident shock. Almost all accident victims are disoriented and confused, regardless of their injuries.

Additionally, most doctors look for signature symptoms, like unconsciousness and vomiting, when they diagnose head injuries. If the victim is dazed and confused but awake and nauseated but not vomiting, many doctors dismiss the possibility of a TBI.

Therefore, many doctors don’t order MRIs or other advanced tests, mostly because they are afraid the insurance company will say the test was unnecessary and refuse to pay for it.

Furthermore, head injuries are not unique to high-speed crashes. Low-speed crashes often cause whiplash, a specific type of head injury. The spine is a delicate chain of nerves and vertebrae. This chain has practically no protection. So, a little force could cause spinal misalignment. This misalignment could cause intense pain or, even worse, permanent paralysis.

*Head Injury Treatment*Most injuries heal, given sufficient time and proper treatment. Brain injuries are permanent, no matter what doctors do. Dead brain cells never regenerate. However, doctors can use a combination of surgery and physical therapy to effectively manage TBI symptoms.

As the name implies, brain surgery is a very delicate procedure. Only a handful of Washington State doctors are qualified to perform this procedure. These doctors don’t make house calls, and they are not available 24/7. Instead, the victim must go to a large regional hospital that’s usually in Seattle or another large city, and the surgeon works on his/her own schedule.

Brain injury physical therapy is difficult as well. These therapists must train uninjured areas of the brain to take over lost functions. This process is long, and progress comes in fits and starts.

Most people do not work with brain surgeons and TBI physical therapists on an everyday basis. So, a Mercer Island personal injury lawyer connects victims with these professionals. Usually, these surgeons and therapists charge nothing upfront for their services.

*Count on 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. You have a limited amount of time to act.

Top Five Truck Wreck Injuries in Issaquah

Posted Friday, March 24, 2023 by Chris Thayer

Automobile safety features have improved significantly over the years. But a fully-loaded semi-truck weighs over 80,000 pounds. No safety system, no matter how advanced, could possibly handle all that force. Therefore, even if a victim is in the safest car in the world, in a truck wreck, that victim often sustains catastrophic injuries. Some of these injuries are outlined below.

Usually, medical bills in catastrophic injury cases exceed $100,000. Many health insurance companies don’t cover injury-related costs. So, it is important for an Issaquah personal injury lawyer to obtain compensation for these injuries in court. Without this compensation, these victims are often financially responsible for these costs. That outcome simply is not fair to anyone.

Serious B**urns

Diesel fuel and gasoline burn at different temperatures. Large trucks often carry hundreds of gallons of diesel fuel. Therefore, the burns in a truck crash case are usually a lot worse than the burns in a car crash case.

Generally, truck crashes cause third-degree burns, which affect the inner skin layers. These injuries usually require painful skin grafts at specialty regional burn centers. So, these victims not only have higher medical bills. They also must endure higher pain levels, a fact that drives up their noneconomic losses.

*Crushed Bones*The extreme force in a truck wreck doesn’t just break bones. It usually shatters them. As a result, doctors must often use metal parts to surgically reconstruct these bones. The additional intervention on the front end means longer physical therapy on the back end. Once again, these factors drive up medical bills and increase emotional distress.

As a side note, broken bones often cause nerve injuries. Therefore, doctors and physical therapists have twice as much work to do.

Frequently, these injuries are permanent. For example, even if a broken ankle heals, the victim may permanently lose the range of motion in that joint.

*Head Injuries*These injuries are also force-related injuries. Vehicle collisions cause the brain to violently and repeatedly slam against the insides of the skull. The violent motion often causes brain bleeding and swelling.

Also, much like broken bones, head injuries are permanent. Brain surgery can reduce swelling and contain the damage. Brain injury therapists can train uninjured parts of the brain to assume lost functions. But the injury itself never gets better, making the victim prone to other, even more serious injuries in the future.

An Issaquah personal injury lawyer connects truck crash victims with the specialists they need for surgery, physical therapy, and other purposes.

*PTSD*Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a specific kind of brain injury that is common in large truck wrecks. Extreme stress triggers chemical changes in the brain. The effects of these changes include depression, anger, and flashbacks.

Like other kinds of brain injuries, PTSD is manageable. But the drugs are very strong, and rehabilitative therapy is often hit or miss.

Internal* Injuries*The same motion and force that causes these other injuries causes internal organs to grind and bump against each other. When that happens, the tiny abrasions bleed badly since these organs have no protective skin layers. Internal bleeding is often hard to spot and even harder to stop. As a result, many victims lose up to a fifth of their blood supply. Many people simply cannot survive that degree of blood loss.

*Connect With 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. You have a limited amount of time to act.

Does the HELPER Mnemonic Really Help in Bellevue?

Posted Friday, March 17, 2023 by Chris Thayer

Roughly 10% of the deliveries in King County hospitals involve shoulder dystocia or another serious complication. SD occurs if a baby’s shoulders are so broad the baby cannot naturally drift down the mother’s birth canal.

If that happens, the umbilical cord cuts off oxygen to the baby’s brain. The resulting hypoxia (lack of oxygen) could cause cerebral palsy in less than five minutes.

When things go wrong in the delivery room, a catch mnemonic device does not always save the day. CP infants have permanent brain damage, which ranges from barely noticeable to completely debilitating. Only a Bellevue personal injury attorney can obtain the compensation these victims need and deserve in court. This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.

Since doctors have such a high duty of care in Washington, a Bellevue personal injury attorney can often obtain additional punitive damages as well. Like the old saying goes, the bigger they are, the harder they fall.

*HELP: Call for Help*The first step of any journey, including the journey to prevent SD-related cerebral palsy, is often the most important one. Unfortunately, doctors often skip this step.

Many doctors are overconfident. They believe they do not need help. That is also the reason many doctors dismiss SD red flags during prenatal care visits. Beneath the surface, many doctors also believe that asking for help is a sign of weakness.

Additionally, help is not always available. That is especially true during nights, weekends, holidays, and other low-census periods. Because of the aforementioned duty of care, doctors cannot pawn their failures onto someone else, like a nurse who does not follow instructions or a hospital administrator who permits understaffing.

*EPISIOTOMY*Frankly, we are amazed this step is still in this mnemonic. Back in the day, doctors routinely cut the mother’s perineum (area between the anus and genitals) to widen her birth canal. According to the most recent research, however, these incisions are ineffective and unsafe.

*LEGS: McRoberts Maneuver*In about eight out of ten cases, simply lifting the mother’s legs and bending her knees moves a stuck baby down the birth canal. So, this intervention should probably be earlier. But it is not. Additionally, it only works most of the time. If the maneuver fails, which is not uncommon, more precious time ticks off the SD cerebral palsy clock.

*PRESSURE: Apply Suprapubic Pressure*As we near the end of the countdown, medical interventions are increasingly desperate. Applying suprapubic pressure is a little like performing CPR on a mother’s abdomen. Doctors hope that by poking and prodding, they can force the baby lower.

A Bellevue personal injury attorney often gets involved at this point. Even if these babies don’t have cerebral palsy, the additional pressure often causes head injuries and other such injuries. Tiny babies are so vulnerable that a little bit of force often causes a severe injury.

*ENTER MANEUVERS: Internal Rotation*This step is like advanced CPR. Instead of poking and prodding, doctors try to turn the baby. Usually, they perform this advanced maneuver blind. Therefore, the chances of success are minimal. But since the five minutes are almost up, doctors are willing to try almost anything at this point.

*REMOVE the Posterior Arm*Frequently, the baby is low enough that a limb, usually an arm, is exposed. If doctors remove that limb, a partially successful birth might still be possible. Basically, a doctor plays God and decides that the certainty of losing an arm is better than the possibility of severe cerebral palsy.

*Work With a Diligent 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 routinely handle matters throughout Washington State.

Lawmakers Mull Lower BAC Limit

Posted Friday, March 10, 2023 by Chris Thayer

Washington is one of several jurisdictions that may follow Utah and lower the Blood Alcohol Content legal limit to .05.

In Washington state, the number of vehicle deaths climbed to 745 in 2022, the highest level since 1990, according to the state’s traffic safety commission. Impairment by alcohol or drugs was a factor in half of those cases, the commission said.

John Lovick, a Washington legislator and former state trooper, said he introduced a BAC .05 bill because of what he saw while on patrol. After dozens of field sobriety checks, he concluded that he would not want someone he pulled over and blew a .06 or a .07 to be on the road where his children played.

“I think we need to get rid of that message, telling people that it’s OK that .08 is legal,” he said. “Zero tolerance is what we’re working toward.”

*The Problem*As recently as the early 1990s, DUI was basically a serious traffic ticket. Most states had weak DUI laws that were weakly enforced. Then, politicians vowed to “get tough” on drunk drivers. They passed new laws, like a per se DUI law which made these cases easier to prove in criminal court. They also authorized controversial law enforcement tools, like DUI roadblocks.

Additionally, all states lowered their BAC limits to .08, under tremendous pressure from the federal government.

All these efforts haven’t had much effect. Alcohol is still a factor in about a third of fatal car crashes in Washington. That is about the same proportion as it was in the late 1980s, before the crackdown began.

Strict laws and harsh penalties may take some drunk drivers off the streets, at least temporarily. But these initiatives do little or nothing to compensate the victims of alcohol-related collisions. Only a Kent personal injury attorney can do that.

These victims need compensation for their serious injuries. Common car crash injuries in Washington State include:

  • Head Injuries: The force of a wreck often causes such injuries. This force causes the brain, which is not much bigger than two clenched fists, to repeatedly and violently slam against the insides of the skull. These injuries are usually permanent. At best, doctors and physical therapists can only ease the symptoms.
  • Broken Bones: The same force that causes brain injuries also shatters bones. Normally, doctors must use metal parts, like pins and rods, to painstakingly reconstruct crushed bones. As a result, victims must be almost completely immobile until the bones heal. That inactivity means physical therapists have a hard time helping victims regain lost function.
  • Spine Injuries: During a car crash, the jostling motion often knocks the spine out of alignment or even breaks delicate vertebrae. Effects of such injuries include herniated discs and pinched nerves. These injuries are practically debilitating, and victims have few treatment options aside from addictive painkillers or risky surgery.

The medical bills in a catastrophic (life-threatening) injury case often exceed $100,000. A Kent personal injury lawyer can connect victims with doctors who charge nothing upfront for their services. Therefore, victims get the treatment they need instead of the treatment a stingy insurance company will pay for.

*The Solutions in Court for Victims*These bills must be paid eventually. Unless an attorney proves negligence, or a lack of care, by a preponderance of the evidence, or more likely than not, the victim is usually financially responsible for these bills.

Intoxicated motorists who are charged with DUI could be liable for damages as a matter of law in civil court.

Impaired motorists could be responsible for damages as well. Attorneys generally use circumstantial evidence to prove these claims. Such evidence includes:

  • Erratic driving before the wreck,
  • Physical symptoms, like bloodshot eyes and an odor of alcohol,
  • Recent alcohol purchases, and
  • Tortfeasor’s statements about alcohol consumption.

Commercial alcohol providers could be vicariously liable for car crash damages. It’s illegal for these providers to sell alcohol to patrons who are visibly intoxicated. Liability attaches if these patrons later cause car crashes or other injuries.

*Work With a Diligent 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 routinely handle matters throughout Washington State.