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

Fire-Related Injuries in Seattle

Posted Friday, September 4, 2020 by Chris Thayer

Alternative TextAs wildfires rage across California and parts of Oregon, the Seattle Times reports that smokey conditions continue to increase across the region, and even parts of Seattle have become engulfed in smoke and soot. Every year, the rate of deaths caused by fires (both wildfires and structural) amounts to about 9.5 people per 1 million residents. While this may seem like a small number, it is important to note that these are just deaths, as reported by the State’s Office of the Fire Marshall. Many others are injured, burned, or suffer serious respiratory injuries from preventable blazes.

*Negligence and Fire-Related Injuries* When people think of personal injury claims, they typically think of car accidents and slip and fall injuries. These are, of course, some of the most common ways that Americans can get hurt by someone else’s careless conduct. However, as wildfires are becoming more frequent and more severe, people are also starting to see increases in the number of injuries and property losses. Here are just a few common types of injuries that people can suffer as a direct result of a fire:

  • Smoke inhalation and resulting respiratory damage
  • Brain injury caused by hypoxia (loss of oxygen to the brain)
  • Vision loss or damage
  • Orthopedic injuries
  • Burns
  • Organ failure
  • Permanent heart conditions
  • Death

**How Fires Can be Linked to Negligence


**Perhaps the most common type of negligent fire would be found in the structure fire. Structure fires can happen when careless individuals leave candles burning, leave lit cigarettes in their hand and fall asleep, or where landlords and building owners fail to take reasonable and necessary precautions to update faulty wiring and electrical systems. Also, many people improperly store chemicals. Highly toxic and flammable chemicals may be used by auto and equipment shops, then rags soaked in these chemicals are placed in incorrect trash or recycling bins, only to be carelessly left in direct sunlight or intense heat. This too can lead to a blaze.

*What to Do if Injured by Fire* If you or a loved one are hurt because of a fire, whether it is a wildfire or structure fire, the first step is to speak with an attorney who has years of experience handling complex insurance claims. Fire claims, unlike other injuries, are highly involved and often require specific experience in the insurance industry, in order to understand how the insurance company will investigate the matter. A Seattle injury law firm can work with you to:

  • Investigate the cause of the fire
  • Determine who caused it and whether it was negligent
  • Determine what assets and insurance are available to compensate you for the injuries
  • Make sure you get proper medical treatment
  • Fight to obtain substantial payment for your injuries

At Pivotal Law Group, our team of lawyers have been working with complex civil litigation cases for a long time. We understand what it takes to position a case for trial and negotiate the best possible settlements under the circumstances. Give our team a call today to get a free consultation with one of our attorneys.

I Was Not Wearing My Seatbelt: Can the Insurance Company Refuse to Pay?

Posted Friday, August 28, 2020 by Chris Thayer

Alternative TextNo! Many Seattle residents are involved in motor vehicle crashes annually. In fact, in Washington State, a collision happens just about every four and a half minutes, per the Department of Transportation’s Annual Collision Summary. But when a crash happens to you or to someone close to you, emotions run high. Insurance companies realize that while they deal with emergencies and car accidents daily, for the injured victim, it is perhaps the single-most devastating event in their lives. So, insurance companies do not really bat an eye at misleading or sometimes outright lying to avoid having to pay. One issue that insurance companies love to use to reduce the claim value for an injury is seatbelt use. What does the law really say about it?

*Seatbelt Rules in Washington State* There is a Washington State statute that can be found at R.C.W.A. § 46.61.688(6). This statute is very clear in what it does. It prohibits evidence of seatbelt compliance (or noncompliance) from being used in court to prove that a victim shared responsibility for their injuries. Here is what the law actually says word-for-word:

“Failure to comply with the requirements of this section does not constitute negligence, nor may failure to wear a safety belt assembly be admissible as evidence of negligence in any civil action.”

Simple enough, right? Well, in practice it is not so simple. What the law actually does is take away an insurance company’s ability to come to court and argue that you would have been hurt less had you been wearing the seatbelt. So, it does not necessarily mean that it is never going to be heard by a jury.

*When can Evidence of Seatbelt Use be Admitted as Evidence?* Despite the clear statutory rule against using your failure to wear a seatbelt as evidence that you shared responsibility for your injuries, it might come in for other reasons. Here are a few examples:

  • You told police you were reaching into your back seat when the crash happened. The defense attorney wants to argue that you were distracted and are partly to blame for the collision. He asks the court to let him introduce evidence that you were not wearing a seatbelt in order to support theory that you were distracted
  • A child passenger is ejected from a vehicle in the collision, and the defense wishes to show the jury that the child was not in a legally-required car seat or booster.
  • A physician discusses injuries on the stand and mentions the lack of a seatbelt.

*How Insurance Companies Try to Use Seatbelts to Deny Claims* Insurance companies are very good at getting people to accept lower settlements than they should. They may tell you that they know you were not wearing a seatbelt and if you were to hire a lawyer and pursue it, they simply would deny your claim. Keep one thing in mind, they do not get to decide what your case is worth. You have a right to pursue your claim through litigation and possibly even take it to a jury to decide.

At Pivotal Law Group, we pride ourselves on pursuing justice for injured victims. Our experienced trial attorneys do not let insurance carriers tell us the law, because we are making history everyday by representing seriously injured clients and obtaining justice. Call or find us online today to learn more about how we might be able to help with your injury claim.

Importance of Preserving Evidence in Trucking Accident Cases

Posted Friday, August 21, 2020 by Chris Thayer

Alternative TextIf you suffered injuries, damages, harm, or losses related to a trucking accident, you have the legal right to receive compensation from the negligent party. However, an investigation must first determine who the negligent party actually is for legal purposes. The truck driver, trucking company, cargo-loading company, or even manufacturer of trucking parts and components could remain liable for your injuries and losses. As a result, the most important foundation of your trucking accident case will rest on the evidence. Preserving evidence is critical in any accident case, but it is even more important in trucking accident cases.

*Types of Evidence to Preserve in a Trucking Accident Case* Victims of trucking accidents need to preserve both physical and electronic evidence related to their trucking case, as well as ensure that the evidence remains in its original state and condition. Some of the types of evidence needed in a trucking accident case may include the following:

  • The “black box” of the commercial truck. This electronic device contains specific data related to the truck’s speed, gear shifts, length of the time the truck was in operation, the GPS locations, communications between the trucking company and the truck, braking history, daily inspection reports and other reports filed by a truck driver
  • Contact information of all drivers and witnesses including insurance information
  • Daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly inspection records of the commercial truck including what parts were replaced or repaired
  • Daily logs of the truck driver, indicating whether or not the truck driver followed the Hours of Service Regulations required under the regulations of the Federal Motor - - Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)The work history, training, and experience of the truck driver
  • A listing of all complaints that exist against the truck driver, trucking company or cargo loading company
  • Listing of any possible recall notices for any manufactured parts or components of the commercial truck

*Preserving Evidence* The most important step any victim of a truck accident can take, aside from getting a medical evaluation, is issuing a spoliation letter to all possible liable parties associated with the accident. A spoliation letter is extremely important because it requires all parties to preserve all evidence that may possibly be related to the trucking accident, even if the party would have the legal right to destroy it otherwise. This spoliation letter is critical as it alerts all parties of an impending lawsuit and requires them to preserve evidence under the law. Failure to do so can result in harsh penalties issued by the court.

*Contact an Experienced Trucking Attorney* If you suffered any injuries or damages as a result of a trucking accident, immediate steps should be taken to preserve the evidence related to your accident. Contact the Pivotal Law Group at 206-340-2008 and learn how we can help you receive compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, property damage, and pain and suffering related to your trucking accident. We proudly serve the Seattle, Bellevue, Kent, Renton, Burien, Mercer Island, and Issaquah areas.

School Bus Injuries

Posted Friday, August 14, 2020 by Chris Thayer

Alternative TextCOVID-19 has changed the way that many children will attend school this fall. Many students will learn virtually from home. In other cases, children are being homeschooled by parents who fear sending their children back to school. However, many schools are still operating normally and plan to have students back in normal classes this fall. As a result, school buses will begin to run again, and children will use them as a primary form of transportation to their schools this fall.

*Safety of School Buses*The published research from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicates that school buses are actually the most regulated vehicles on the roadways in the United States, and for good reason. Literally millions of children ride school buses every day. The American School Bus Council indicates that prior to 2020, 25 million children rode on school buses every day during the school year. While this number may be smaller this fall, many children will still hop on these buses in order to get to and from their schools. Unfortunately, statistics also show that while these vehicles are typically safe, 17,000 children go to emergency rooms every year due to injuries suffered on a school bus.

*Safety at Bus Stops*One-fourth of all injuries suffered by children related to school buses actually occur when a child is either entering or exiting the bus, according to the Center for Innovation in Pediatric Practice. Make sure your child arrives early in order to avoid panic, keeps their distance from other children and the bus, faces the bus directly to avoid accidents, and never approaches a school bus until it has made a full and complete stop. Children should always remain in their seats on the bus facing forward, and only get up to leave the bus again when it comes to a full and complete stop.

*Safety for Motorists*Research from the National Safety Council indicates that accidents involving school buses typically do not affect the passengers of the buses but rather the occupants of other motor vehicles involved in the crash. In fact, 70% of all fatalities associated with school buses were motorists and passengers in other vehicles. As the school season begins again make sure to pay close attention as you back out of your driveway and always look for school buses near school zones. Follow the directions of any school buses that may include stop signs or flashing lights.

*Contact a Personal Injury Attorney Today *If you were involved in an accident with a school bus, or if your child was injured as a rider on a school bus, you may have the legal right to pursue compensation for your injuries and losses. Contact a personal injury attorney today at Pivotal Law Group at 206-340-2008 and learn how we can help you receive compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, property damage and pain and suffering. We proudly serve the Seattle, Bellevue, Kent, Renton, Burien, Mercer Island, and Issaquah areas.

Types of Birth Injuries

Posted Friday, August 7, 2020 by Chris Thayer

Unfortunately, medical negligence either before, during, or immediately after the birthing process can cause serious injuries in the infant resulting in permanent damage. If you discovered that your baby was injured during birth, you may have the legal right to pursue a claim under the law.

**Common Types of Birth Injuries Resulting From Medical Malpractice


**Not every medical condition or diagnosis an infant receives is the result of medical malpractice. In some cases, children are born with medical conditions or illnesses that have no relationship to any type of action or inaction on the part of the medical attending staff. However, there are certain types of injuries that occur often due to the fact that a healthcare provider or medical practitioner made serious negligent errors in the birthing process resulting in a birth injury. Some of the types of common birth injuries resulting from medical malpractice include the following:

  • Cerebral Palsy. Cerebral palsy is a common birth defect leading to a child suffering permanent challenges with motor skills, walking, speaking, neurological issues and pain and suffering. This often occurs when a child remains in the birth canal too long or is deprived of oxygen for too long.
  • Brain Damage. If a baby does not receive enough oxygen at any time during the birthing process, it can lead not only to cerebral palsy, but to additional medical complications including seizures or remaining in a permanent vegetative state.
  • Spinal Damage. If extraction devices such as forceps or vacuum extractor tools are used inappropriately during the delivery process, it may cause spinal cord or nerve damage resulting in permanent neurological challenges for the child.
  • Infections. If the medical staff fails to detect, diagnose, and/or treat an infection in either the mother or child, it can result in serious or potentially fatal medical complications, including infant brain damage.
  • Cephalohematoma. This medical condition occurs when there is bleeding between the skull and the periosteum of the baby. The pooling of blood from blood vessels damages the inner skin layers and the infant’s skull causing serious medical issues.

There are many other medical complications, illnesses, and injuries that may occur as a direct result of the medical negligence of a nurse, surgeon, doctor, or another medical professional. If you or your baby suffered any injuries or losses as a result of medical negligence, you may have the legal right to file a claim to pursue justice on behalf of your newborn.

*Contact a Birth Injury Lawyer*First, please know that we understand that you may be overwhelmed by your current situation and the diagnosis of your infant. While no amount of compensation will bring back your baby’s health, you may be facing astronomical medical bills and a lifetime of medical treatments and health concerns. If your child suffered injuries you think may be related to a birth injury resulting from medical negligence, contact Pivotal Law Group at 206-340-2008 and visit with one of our experienced birth injury attorneys. We proudly serve the Seattle, Bellevue, Kent, Renton, Burien, Mercer Island, and Issaquah areas.