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

Your Personal Injury Claim and Medical Treatment - How Insurance Companies Review Comments in Your Medical Records

Posted Monday, October 10, 2011 by Chris Thayer

As previously discussed, the contents of your medical records will play a large role in how the insurance companies evaluate your personal injury claim. Most people go their whole lives without ever looking at their medical chart and really have no idea what their doctors and other healthcare providers write down. Insurance adjusters frequently seek to take comments in medical records out of context or to overemphasize offhand notes referenced by your healthcare provider.

A common scenario: you are injured in a motor vehicle accident and receiving physical therapy. After a few months of treatment, you start to experience some improvement, but you have “good” days and “bad” days. You find that even limited activity aggravates your symptoms, but you are managing to get through the day and function. During one of your PT appointments you are asked at the beginning, how you are feeling. This is one of your “good” days, so you tell your PT “pretty good”. Later, when pursuing your personal injury claim, the insurance adjuster latches onto this and draws the conclusion that, based on this statement, you must have been doing fine and have been recovered from your symptoms. Obviously, this is an oversimplification, but this is a very common situation that I see played out over and over again with insurance adjusters who are evaluating personal injury claims.

What should you do? A few pieces of key advice:

(1) Be completely honest and forthcoming about how you are feeling. Don’t feel an obligation to be the “tough guy” or to minimize any complaints you have.
(2) At the same time, do not exaggerate your symptoms - just provide a complete and accurate explanation.(3) If you are still having symptoms but are having a “good” day, make sure that is clear with your healthcare provider. Let them know you have “good” days and “bad” days. If you are generally improving, then certainly let your healthcare provider know that; but it is equally important to let your provider know if you are still suffering significant symptoms and have had to curtail your activities as a result.(4) Ask for copies of your records if you have any concerns or questions

Bicycle fatalities in Seattle raise safety issues

Posted Tuesday, September 13, 2011 by Chris Thayer

A recent series of bicycle accidents in the greater Seattle area has lead to some public pressure to make the streets safer for bikes and cars to co-exist. With the traffic and commute challenges in Seattle, more and more people are looking to bicycles as a green alternative. Unfortunately, this has come at an increasing cost.

Bicycle fatality raises safety issues

Healthcare and Your Personal Injury Claim - Dealing with "Soft Tissue" Sprain/Strain Injuries

Posted Monday, September 12, 2011 by Chris Thayer

One issue that I see frequently in my practice is the “whiplash” victim who suffers from long term neck and back pain. For many people these symptoms resolve over a period of a several months. For a certain percentage, however, the symptoms persist over a long period of time and become chronic. Insurance companies are highly skeptical of these types of claims which they characterize as “soft tissue” - meaning that there are no physiological changes viewable on X-Ray or MRI.

If you have suffered a significant sprain/strain injury to your neck, it is essential to get the proper medical treatment as early possible. As I always tell my clients, I am a lawyer, not a doctors, so don’t take medical advice from me. However, you need to be proactive in managing your care if you have a serious whiplash-type injury that is not resolving. If your symptoms persist beyone a few weeks, it is essential that you consider consulting with a specialist - and not just your primary care physician. Depending on your condition and symptoms, you may want to consider seeking treatment from a Physiatrist (also known as a Rehabilitation Medicine Specialist). These are doctors who are specially trained to treat people with a variet of injuries. Often they will be more familiar with the most effective forms of treatment.

When dealing with a “soft tissue” injury, it is important, like any other medical condition, that you are proactive about doing everything you can to get better. Insurance companies are highly skeptical about these injuries - even though the medical literature is quite clear that their effects can be severe and debilitating. If you have a sprain/strain injury or serious “soft tissue” injury as a result of an accident, you should consider consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney. Even if you decide not to hire an attorney, an initial free consultation may help you avoid getting taken advantage of by the insurance companies.

Healthcare and Your Personal Injury Claim - Wage and Income Loss

Posted Wednesday, August 31, 2011 by Chris Thayer

As as result of injuries suffered in an accident, it is not uncommon for accident victims to miss some time from work. Under Washington law, if suffer wage or income loss as a result of an accident caused by the negligence of another, you have the right to an award of these damages as part of your personal injury claim. However, it is important to keep in mind two things: (1) as the claimant you have the burden of proving that your damages (including wage loss) were the result of the injuries suffered in the accident; and (2) insurance companies are skeptical and are not inclined to compensate accident victims for any wage or income loss without documentation. So what do you do?

If the injuries from an accident make it impossible for you to go to work, that is completely understandable. However, if you want to be able to recover these lost wages you are going to most likely need approval from your physician or healthcare provider. Make sure that your healthcare provider specifically authorizes you to be off of work for a specific time period (two weeks, etc.) and that they document that this is the result of the injuries suffered in the accident. If you do not have documented approval from your healthcare provider (and ideally a physician), most insurance companies are not inclined to pay wage loss claims.

Even if you are self-employed it is possible to recover lost income if you can establish that the income loss was a result of injuries received in the accident. In addition, if you take sick leave from work it is possible to receive compensation for wage loss on your claim, even though you may have received compensation from your employer for the time off. The idea is that if you have to use your sick leave for accident-related injuries, this takes away from you ability to use those sick days for other times when you have an illness. The key to being able to recover any of these damages is clear documentation from your employer and your healthcare providers. This can get rather complicated and it is best to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney if you have questions about how to collect wage or income loss for your personal injury claim.

Healthcare and Your Personal Injury Claim - How Insurance Companies Evaluate your medical treatment records - PART I

Posted Thursday, August 18, 2011 by Chris Thayer

One of the main questions that comes up with my personal injury clients is how do insurance companies evaluate these claims? In most cases the majority of the information that the insurance adjuster will rely on is included in your medical records. They will evaluate the diagnoses you received for your injuries as well as the documented severity, frequency of visits, the type of care received, duration of injury, and whether you have any significant permanent symptoms which may require future treatment.

This blog entry will address frequency of treatment. In my experience, this issue comes up often, as jaded and skeptical insurance adjusters review a claimant’s medical records. Sadly, insurance companies will effectively punish those who try to “tough it out” and avoid going to the doctor. In such cases, the insurance company will conclude that the claimant must not have been injured badly (or they would have gone to the doctor more often). Conversely, if you seek “too much” treatment (a subjective assessment), then insurance companies will argue that you “overtreated” and will not want to pay for the treatment.

Advice? Make sure you are communicating clearly with your treating healthcare providers about your symptoms. Make sure to explain how your symptoms are impacting your life, and whether or not you are experiencing any improvement. You should always follow the advice of your medical provider, however, if you find that the treatment being provided is not helping you get better, you should be proactive about referrals to specialists, getting 2nd opiniond, or trying other modalities to treat your condition.

Unfortunately, there are some conditions which modern medicine cannot cure and chronic pain can set in. In such situations, it is easy to fall into a pattern where you seek treatment that helps you “get through” the day, but does not help cure the underyling problem. In such challenging situations it is all the more important to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney who can help guide you through the claims process. The internet is too public of a forum to discuss all issues related to insurance claims.

If you have questions, you should contact me for a free initial consultation to discuss your matter privately and confidentially.