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

Can I Still Sue for Injuries Sustained in a Car Accident if I Was Not Wearing a Seatbelt?

Posted Friday, March 5, 2021 by Chris Thayer

If you have been injured in a car accident, you may have a number of things running through your mind, such as how you will move forward, afford medical expenses and vehicle repairs, and deal with the pain caused by your injuries. In the simplest of circumstances, you may be overwhelmed and unsure of your options for recovery. If you were not wearing a seatbelt, that can add another layer of uncertainty, leading many people to assume they are barred from recovering anything because they broke the law or are somehow responsible for their own harm. However, legally, this is not the case. Not wearing a seatbelt can exacerbate injuries, but it cannot cause a car crash. If you were injured in a car accident that was not your fault, you are legally entitled to hold the other driver accountable, regardless of whether you were wearing a seatbelt or not.

*Can Not Wearing a Seatbelt Affect my Settlement?* In Washington state, not wearing a seatbelt does not prevent you from bringing a personal injury claim, however, it can affect your settlement. Washington is a comparative fault state. This means that the fault of both parties contributed to causing the accident is considered by the court when determining liability. Moreover, the defendants can introduce evidence of your negligence to try and decrease their own liability. If you were involved in a car accident and were not wearing a seatbelt, you should be prepared for the other side to argue that this increases your own liability and decreases theirs. This is not true in all cases, however. In order to affect your settlement, the other side must demonstrate that your injuries could have been avoided or reduced had you been wearing a seatbelt. If your only injury was a broken foot, the defense will not likely be able to argue that wearing a helmet would have had any effect on mitigating your injuries. However, if you were thrown from the vehicle and suffered serious head trauma, it may be that a seatbelt could have avoided these injuries, in which case, your settlement could be dramatically reduced.

To demonstrate this concept, say Driver A was speeding and ignored a stop sign, T-boning Driver B, who was not wearing a seatbelt. Driver B sustained multiple broken bones, and was thrown from the car, causing a concussion. If the jury determines, based on expert medical testimony and evidence, that Driver B’s injuries could have been reduced by 30% if Driver B was wearing a seatbelt, then Driver B may be found 30% liable for their own injuries. If Driver B is then awarded $100,000 by the jury, Driver B will keep $70,000 ($100,000 - 30%).

*Talk to an Experienced Washington Personal Injury Lawyer * If you have been injured in a Washington vehicle collision, do not let the fact that you were not wearing a seatbelt stop you from getting the legal support and financial compensation to which you are entitled. Serving Seattle, Bellevue, Kent, Rento, Burien, Mercer Island, Issaquah, and all surrounding areas, Pivotal Law Group is here to zealously advocate on your behalf, and help get the settlement you need to move forward in life. Call today to schedule a consultation.

What is Insurance Stacking, and Can it be Done in Washington State?

Posted Friday, February 26, 2021 by Chris Thayer

When you buy car insurance in Washington State, you often will notice that you are given the option of selecting “stacking” or “non-stacking.” These terms are somewhat confusing until you put them in context, so to help you better make a decision about whether the extra cost is worth it, it may be helpful to understand what stacking is and is not, and how it actually helps you in Washington State. When you get into an auto accident, it is best to work with an experienced personal injury lawyer near you who can help you maximize your economic recovery. But before you ever have a crash, you have to choose car insurance. Your choices can make a huge difference if you are ever in a car accident.

*What is Stacking?*Stacking does not really apply unless you have multiple insurance policies. Also, when we talk about stacking, most of the time we are talking about something called uninsured motorist insurance. This is coverage for those situations in which the other driver causes your injuries but has no financial means or insurance to pay. Thus you must use your own coverage.

When you have one car and one policy, then your coverage is whatever you decided to purchase. If you bought a policy that covers up to $50,000 in coverage, then that is what you have to work with. But let’s change the scenario and say you have two vehicles, and each is on a separate policy. Now you would have the option of choosing stacking or non-stacking. If you opt to not stack, then if you should ever require coverage, you will only have that $50,000 per person amount to pay for your injuries. But if you choose to stack the policies, you could have double that amount available ($100,000).

*Is it Worth it?*Only you can truly decide what risk tolerance you are willing to accept. But the best way to think about it is to assess your own assets, financial means, health insurance and life situation and ask yourself how you would deal with an unanticipated $30,000 to $60,000 hospital bill, along with long-term loss of a vehicle and possibly loss of work and wages.

If you are not concerned about your ability to make ends meet, then you may not need to stack. If, on the other hand, you want to be a bit more certain to receive compensation, then the stacking policy may be just the right choice.

*How to be Compensated if the Other Driver is Not Insured*If you are injured by a driver without insurance, it will likely be okay. Assuming you carry the minimum limits of coverage and carry uninsured motorist insurance, as many Washingtonians do, you should be fine. Washington State law requires your insurance company to offer you this type of insurance, though you can decline it in writing.

If you or someone you care about has suffered a serious injury in the Seattle metro area, then you need aggressive and caring assistance through the process. Call Pivotal Law Group today, and speak with an attorney about your injuries.

Are Soft Tissue Injuries Not That Serious?

Posted Friday, February 19, 2021 by Chris Thayer

If you have recently been involved in a motor vehicle crash, there is a decent chance you may have heard the expression “soft tissue injury.” This is because insurance companies are great at recharacterizing injuries to suit their needs. Some insurance claims adjusters will call a blown disc in your back a soft tissue injury. Hernia? Minor injury soft tissue. Sprain, strain, pulled ligaments, torn tendons? Soft tissue injury.

As you can likely tell, anything that is not a fractured bone will probably get referred to as a soft tissue injury. Insurance companies know that soft tissue is a tough topic for some to understand, and recharacterizing it this way makes it seem less serious. But are soft tissue injuries really not that serious? Should an insurance company still have to pay for them? At Pivotal Law Group, our dedicated personal injury lawyers know that soft tissue injuries are some of the most common and most painful injuries we see. Here are a few reasons to take them seriously.

*Soft Tissue Takes a Long Time to Heal*Unlike a fracture, which can be placed in a cast usually, a typical soft tissue injury is not treatable with traditional immobilization techniques. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommends the R.I.C.E. method when treating a soft tissue injury. This stands for

  • Rest
  • Ice
  • Compression
  • Elevation

Some soft-tissue injuries can take upwards of 10-16 weeks to heal, and some can even be permanent if the trauma is bad enough. So, do not let an insurance company make you think your injuries are minimal just because there is no fracture.

*Soft Tissue Injuries are Harder to Identify*Unlike a fracture, most soft tissue injuries can only be discovered using CT or MRI imaging. X-rays rarely show evidence of herniations, disc injuries, sprains and similar soft tissue injury. Therefore, the medical costs can get pretty high, even just from diagnostics.

*Easier to Misdiagnose*Unless you work with the right healthcare providers from the start, there is a pretty decent chance your back or neck injury will get misdiagnosed. Some physicians hate working with insurance cases, meaning they do not want to wait for the auto insurance company to pay the bill. Instead, they will either refuse to treat auto accident patients, or they will downplay the injuries so as to get the health insurance company to pay instead. Of course, the problem with this is that this hurts your chances of getting a fair settlement.

When you work with a skilled and experienced team of auto accident lawyers, we know who these healthcare providers are, so you can steer clear. Ultimately, your goal is to get better, and that is our goal too. So, call Pivotal Law Group today, and let one of our experienced attorneys guide you toward maximum compensation for your injuries. The call is free, and we never get paid unless you do.

Special Compensation Available for Wrongful Death

Posted Friday, February 12, 2021 by Chris Thayer

When someone you love dies unexpectedly and someone or some company is responsible for causing that death, the pain and anger can be overwhelming. There are many immediate frustrations and complex emotions, and people often feel as though there is little they can do. Some feel helpless or overwhelmed, while others may simply be furious. In the meantime, however, as the clock ticks, those responsible often spend countless hours working to hide evidence and build a defense in anticipation of a possible claim. Wrongful death cases are especially complex and require more skill and strategy than a typical injury case. But for those who can prove that negligence caused the death, special compensation may be available.

*Understanding Wrongful Death*A wrongful death claim can be related to a fatal car crash, motorcycle collision, trucking accident, deadly fall, or even medical negligence. Whatever the cause, if negligence is the culprit, the family of the decedent can seek compensation. The important thing to consider is to whom the claim actually belongs. Unlike an asset of the deceased individual’s estate, a wrongful death claim technically ‘belongs’ to the surviving heirs. In Washington, the representative of the estate can bring the case, but the damages associated with wrongful death are typically based on the losses and injuries to the survivors, more so than the deceased. Here are just a few examples.

*Loss of Society*Under RCW 4.20.010, Washington State law provides that surviving heirs and beneficiaries can recover for economic and noneconomic damages caused by the death of the decedent. One such damage is loss of society. This is monetary compensation for the loss of love, affection, and relationship. When someone you love dearly is taken from you unexpectedly, there is an emotional and hedonic loss that is hard to put into strong context. This is frequently the intangible, yet very real loss that is compensated.

*Loss of Income*When someone dies while in their working years, their loss of income is often an enormous loss, not just for their immediate family, but also for their heirs. Consider the effect on a family when the patriarch dies. If the breadwinner of a family dies, this can lead to long term financial devastation that can alter the course of the family’s success for decades.

*Medical Expenses*Many deaths are not immediate. Instead, they involve lengthy and very expensive medical treatment. The surviving family should not be left to pay those bills, and those debts should not be left to deplete their estate and inheritances to heirs. For these reasons, medical bills are often one of the more significant driving factors behind a settlement or verdict.

*Funeral Expenses*The decedent’s final medical bills and funeral expenses may also be sought. This means that any out-of-pocket costs associated with a funeral, cemetery, burial, or ceremony might be covered.

*Pain and Suffering*When a person is killed by someone else’s negligence, there are various types of claims that can be brought along with the wrongful death action, including a survival claim. This is an action that “survives” the death of the individual. A survival claim can be used to collect compensation for physical and emotional pain and suffering experienced by the decedent prior to death.

*How to Achieve Maximum Compensation*If you lost someone you love due to someone else’s carelessness, there is really only one way to fight for compensation. You will need to make sure you take action and contact an experienced Seattle wrongful death lawyer to make sure you meet the statute of limitations. You must file a lawsuit within the deadline, or your rights will be forever barred. In most cases, that deadline is just three years from the date of the death in Washington. But do not wait that long. There are unique situations that can potentially shorten that time period. So take action now. Call Pivotal Law Group today. The call is free, and you pay nothing unless your attorney is able to collect compensation for you.

Three Reasons Why Every Washingtonian Should Carry Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Insurance

Posted Friday, February 5, 2021 by Chris Thayer

For Seattle area residents who drive their vehicles every day for work and school, there is always a real threat of potential danger. As the population continues to grow and the traffic density increases, car accidents are on the rise. Despite slight lulls in auto travel during the pandemic, the Seattle Times reports that last year saw record traffic fatalities. While it is the responsibility of the wrongdoer to make it right when they cause injuries to others, none of us should rely solely on the insurance coverage provided by someone else on the road. This is why there is uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage available. Many people do not really understand what this type of coverage is used for and when it kicks in. So, here are five clear reasons why experienced injury lawyers recommend that you carry sufficient policy limits and always carry uninsured and underinsured motorist insurance to protect yourself.

*There are a Lot of Uninsured Drivers *Komo News explains that nearly 20% 20% of all Washington motorists are operating without insurance. Think about that for a moment. If that statistics holds true, then one in five people driving around on the road will have no insurance coverage. This means if one of those people should hit you or someone you love, there is a real possibility that there will be no money available to compensate for your injuries, medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering. Hence, it is important to carry insurance for yourself.

*Minimum Limits are Not Enough*Washington State law only requires vehicle owners to carry $25,000 in liability insurance coverage per person they injure. With the average cost of emergency medical care on the rise, this is rarely sufficient to cover even minor injuries. A broken arm and some lacerations could easily exceed the amount of insurance the other driver carries. This is why it is important to carry underinsured motorist coverage. This type of insurance kicks in to make up the difference between your own coverage and what the other person carried.

*Lots of Accidents Give Insurance Companies the Right to Disclaim Coverage*It is not just uninsured motorists that can cause problems. There are numerous types of incidents that create uninsured motorist issues. Consider just a few situations in which an otherwise insured vehicle may still not give way to coverage for your injuries:

  • Stolen vehicles
  • Rental vehicles
  • Undocumented workers
  • Out of state drivers without coverage
  • Hit and run scenarios
  • Pedestrian collisions

*You May Still Have a Right to Compensation Even if the Other Driver is Uninsured*Even if the other driver is uninsured, a skilled Seattle auto accident lawyer may still be able to obtain significant compensation for your injuries, so long as you carry uninsured motorist insurance. The procedures are slightly different, but the compensation can be just as significant, assuming you have decent limits. For help after a car accident in Seattle, call Pivotal Law Group today to schedule a free consultation.