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

What to Understand About an Issaquah Personal Injury Case

Posted Friday, May 26, 2023 by Chris Thayer

An article in NCW Life reports that a major I-90 crash injured a Peshastin driver east of Issaquah. The woman was badly injured, extricated from her car, and taken to Harborview Medical Center for emergency care. The other driver was not injured and was arrested at the scene.

Unfortunately, around Issaquah, serious injuries and deaths on 1-90 are all too common.

If you or a loved one has been involved in a serious accident, it can be a good idea to explore legal options with an experienced personal injury attorney.

In Washington, unlike other states, there are no limits for the damages which can be awarded in personal injury cases. There are, however, limits to the time within which you can bring a claim.

*No Damage Caps: What You Need to Know in Issaquah*The amounts rewarded in personal injury are called ‘damages.’ Some states offer specific ‘caps’ or limits to the amount of damage that can be awarded in personal injury cases. In Washington, the courts have held that these kinds of damage caps are not constitutional.

Essentially, this means that for certain types of harm or in certain types of injury cases, there are no limits in place under Washington state law for the amount of damages that can be awarded.

*Understand the Statute of Limitations in Washington*In Issaquah and other parts of Washington, there is a time limit within which you must file a lawsuit. This is called a ‘statute of limitations.’ In Washington, the amount of time is three years from the date of the incident.

If you do not file a claim in that time, you may lose your ability to recover compensation for your injuries.

The clock starts ticking on the date of the accident or injury. Cases are routinely dismissed when filed outside of this critical three-year window.

*How Long Does it Take to Settle an Issaquah Personal Injury Case?*If you are considering filing a personal injury case, one question may be burning in your mind. “How long will it take to settle a personal injury claim?”

The timeline varies. In some cases, you can settle quickly - but often, this means accepting less money. In other cases, there may be factors that can influence how long your case takes to settle.

Cases may drag out if there are legal or factual issues affecting the decision. Also, cases may take longer if you are still receiving medical treatment.

One term that you may hear is ‘maximum medical improvement’ (MMI). This means that you have reached a point where you are as good as you are going to get. This point makes it clearer for a lawyer, judge, or jury to know the full impact of your injuries.

*Reach Out to a Hard-Working King County Attorney*For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Issaquah, contact Pivotal Law Group, PLLC. The sooner you reach out to us, the sooner we begin fighting for you.

Shopping Cart Injury Claims in Burien

Posted Friday, May 19, 2023 by Chris Thayer

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, shopping cart injuries send over 20,000 children under 5 to an emergency room every year. Typically, the child fell out of a cart, was caught between two objects, like a shopping cart and a shelf, or the cart overturned and trapped the child. Such incidents often do not seriously injure full-grown adults. But to a child, these incidents could be serious or even life-threatening.

The immediate injury is not the only concern. Many wounds, like broken bones, never entirely heal. If Timmy falls off his bike and breaks his arm, he will probably be fine in a few months. But if a heavy shopping cart laden with groceries overturns on him, his shattered arm might never function normally again.

A Burien personal injury lawyer does more than obtain financial compensation for these injuries. Legal actions also hold grocery stores accountable for the injuries they unintentionally cause. In a perfect world, grocery stores and other retailers would do the right thing before the lawyers got involved. But as everyone can see, we do not live in a perfect world.

*Building a Case*Most shopping cart injury, slip and fall, swimming pool drowning, and other premises liability cases begin with a legal duty of care. This principle is based on the Golden Rule (do unto others as you would have them do unto you) that schoolchildren once memorized. If a grocery store owner came over to your house, they would want to feel safe. The owner must extend the same courtesy to visitors.

The nature of the visit, and the victim’s relationship with the owner, determine the exact duty of care, as follows:

* - *Invitee: Most people have permission to visit grocery stores and they benefit the owner economically, even if they do not buy anything. So, the owner has a duty of reasonable care in these situations. Warning people about injury risk is not enough. The owner must address the risk. - Licensee: Very few retail store customers are licensees (permission but no benefit). This label usually applies to social visitors, like a guest of a hotel guest. Since the owner-victim relationship is not as close, the owner only has a duty to warn about latent (hidden) defects. - Trespasser: Kids who joust with shopping carts in parking lots are usually trespassers (no permission and no benefit). Generally, no duty of care applies in these situations. However, if the attractive nuisance rule applies, and it probably does, the owner has a duty of reasonable care.

Additionally, a Burien personal injury lawyer must prove the owner knew about, or should have known about, the injury-causing hazard. In this situation, that probably means knowing about a shopping cart with a broken wheel or a cart that is otherwise unstable.

*Possible Defenses*Comparative negligence, in one form or another, is the most common defense in premises liability claims.

Frequently, insurance company lawyers blame caregivers for not properly watching children in shopping carts. Even if lax supervision contributed to the child’s injury, the victim may still be entitled to compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.

Many shopping carts have warning signs instructing caregivers to use these carts safely. If the victim, or in this case, the caregiver, saw the sign, could read the sign, and could understand what the sign meant, the aforementioned comparative negligence division-of-responsibility rules apply.

*Rely on a Savvy King County Attorney*Injury victims are entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Kent, contact Pivotal Law Group, PLLC. Virtual, home, and hospital visits are available.

Direct and Circumstantial Evidence in Renton Alcohol-Related Crash Claims

Posted Friday, May 12, 2023 by Chris Thayer

Coronavirus pandemic lockdowns caused vehicle traffic to plummet in 2020. Nevertheless, the number of fatal alcohol-related car crashes increased substantially. Mostly because of lax or nonexistent traffic enforcement, drivers developed several bad habits, including drinking and driving. Like many other bad habits, the pandemic-related drinking and driving habit has proven easy to form and hard to break.

Even if the victim survives, drunk drivers normally cause serious injuries, such as broken bones and head injuries. These injuries are normally permanent, at least to an extent. Therefore, a Renton personal injury lawyer can normally obtain substantial compensation in court. This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.

*Direct Evidence*A bill to reduce Washington’s BAC limit recently failed in the State Senate. So, this limit, as in most other states, is still .08. In criminal court, prosecutors normally use breath tests to prove intoxication beyond a reasonable doubt.

A criminal conviction doesn’t matter to a Renton personal injury lawyer. If emergency responders charge a tortfeasor (negligent driver) with DUI, the negligence per se rule could apply. According to this doctrine, tortfeasors are liable for damages as a matter of law if:

* - *Safety Law Violation: An arrest is as good as a conviction in civil court, at least in this context. Such arrests are common if the tortfeasor is legally drunk. Most law enforcement agencies in and around King County have mandatory DUI arrest policies. The days of “go forth and sin no more” are long gone in this area. - Causes a Crash: Alcohol is a depressant that affects motor skills and judgment ability. These characteristics might be good at parties or if the person is drinking in a safe environment. But they’re very dangerous when the person tries to operate heavy machinery, like a motor vehicle.

Jurors often award very high compensation in DUI collision cases. Arguably, these tortfeasors knew they should not get behind the wheel, but they did so anyway and deliberately put other people at risk.

*Circumstantial Evidence*Three or four drinks make most people legally drunk. But the aforementioned poor judgment and reduced reaction time effects begin with the first sip of alcohol. In other words, many drivers are impaired but not intoxicated. An attorney uses circumstantial evidence to prove negligence, or a lack of care, in these situations. This evidence usually includes physical symptoms, such as:

  • Slurred speech,
  • Bloodshot eyes,
  • Odor of alcohol, and
  • Unsteady balance.

This evidence could also prove third-party liability. More on that below. Additional evidence of impairment includes erratic driving before the wreck and the tortfeasor’s previous schedule. If they recently went to a place that serves alcohol, it is more likely than not that they had at least one drink while there.

More likely than not, or a preponderance of the evidence, is the burden of proof in negligence claims. Individually, the physical symptoms listed above do not establish impairment or even consumption. But the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

Washington has a dram shop law. RCW 66.44.200 states that a person cannot sell liquor to a person who appears to be under the influence of alcohol.

Third-party liability is important in alcohol-related crashes. Frequently, the victim’s injuries are so severe that an individual tortfeasor does not have sufficient insurance to cover all economic and noneconomic losses.

*Rely on a Savvy King County Attorney*Injury victims are entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Kent, contact Pivotal Law Group, PLLC.

Five Most Commonly Misdiagnosed Medical Conditions in Kent

Posted Friday, May 5, 2023 by Chris Thayer

Experienced doctors have all the training and skills to diagnose injuries and illnesses accurately. But depending on the illness or injury, the medical misdiagnosis rate is as high as 35%. Some doctors rely on their instincts, which are often wrong, as opposed to diagnostic test evidence, which is rarely incorrect. Other doctors do not have solid evidence. Instead, they over-rely on nurses or other non-doctors to interpret test results.

Misdiagnosis violates a doctor’s fiduciary duty of care. This legal responsibility requires physicians to set aside all other concerns, such as work-life balance or financial profit, and only do what is best for their patients. If a breach of duty causes injury, a Kent personal injury attorney can obtain substantial compensation in court. This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.

*Head Injuries*Car crashes are the leading cause of head injuries. Initial head injury symptoms, such as moderate pain and general disorientation, are almost exactly like the symptoms of accident shock. Therefore, many doctors tell crash-related head injury victims they just need to go home and get some rest.

Making matters worse, many doctors rely on patient-provided information. After a car crash, adrenaline masks pain. When patients tell doctors they “feel fine,” many doctors take these patients at their word. So, they do not perform MRIs and other necessary tests.

Head injuries are degenerative. Once the symptoms worsen, usually because the brain is swelling, the symptoms are almost impossible to manage.

*Cancer*Environmental cancer, mostly toxic exposure cancer, is on the rise. Nevertheless, to many doctors, cancer is still a lifestyle or genetic condition. If a patient shows the signs of cancer, like pain and weight change, but has no lifestyle or genetic markers, many doctors immediately assume the patient has another condition.

Cancer survival rates have improved significantly since the 1990s. This improvement is mostly because of improved diagnostic techniques that allow doctors to get a fast start. Without that diagnostic fast start, the prospects of survival plummet.

*Heart Attacks*Similarly, doctors often misdiagnose heart attacks and other cardiovascular issues if the patient has no genetic or lifestyle risk factors. Furthermore, even if a doctor orders a test, heart damage is easy to miss, especially if the evaluator is not fully qualified to interpret test results.

Painless heart attacks are less obvious, causing many doctors to dismiss them as heartburn. Victims of this medical malpractice are mainly women since their heart attack symptoms are often confused with malaise or fatigue.

*Lyme Disease*Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that is transmitted through a deer tick bite. The disease can cause symptoms like fever, fatigue, rash, and joint pain. People may also develop eye inflammation, liver inflammation, and heart problems weeks after contracting the infection. Lyme disease mimics flu, chronic fatigue syndrome, and mononucleosis, making it hard for a doctor to diagnose this disease accurately.

Even though there is no known cure for Lyme disease, early detection can help in the treatment and management of its symptoms.

*Strokes*As mentioned, cardiovascular conditions are hard to diagnose. Many doctors assume that people under 60 do not have strokes. Doctors often misdiagnose younger patients suffering from strokes with migraines, alcohol intoxication, or vertigo. Failure to diagnose a stroke can cause a more severe and catastrophic episode.

*Connect With a Dedicated King County Attorney*Injury victims are entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Kent, contact Pivotal Law Group, PLLC. The sooner you reach out to us, the sooner we start fighting for you.

Proving Liability in a Bellevue Truck Crash Claim

Posted Friday, April 28, 2023 by Chris Thayer

The sheer amount of force in a semi-truck wreck, not to mention the fact that these vehicles carry hundreds of gallons of diesel fuel, often causes catastrophic injuries. The economic losses alone in such a case usually exceed $150,000. It is almost impossible to put a price tag on the noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. These cases are even more complex because, as outlined below, they usually involve another layer of liability.

Because of all these difficulties, only the most experienced Bellevue personal injury lawyer should handle a truck crash claim. All too often, inexperienced lawyers are not prepared for all the legal and factual issues in a truck crash claim. So, they look for a quick settlement or an easy way out. Since so much money is at stake, settling for less is simply not an option for most truck crash victims.

*First Party Liability*Legal responsibility for a truck crash begins with the duty of care. Most drivers have a duty of reasonable care. But Washington law holds truck drivers to a higher standard since they are professional drivers with additional training and experience. Instead of a duty of reasonable care, truck drivers and other professional drivers have a duty of utmost care.

The law reflects this difference. Most highways have lower speed limits for semi-trucks than passenger vehicles. Additionally, truckers must comply with strict weight and other limits.

The higher duty of care makes it easier for a Bellevue personal injury lawyer to prove negligence, or a lack of care. That negligence is usually driver impairment or aggressive driving.

Truck driver fatigue is a serious issue. After eighteen consecutive awake hours, motor skills and judgment ability impairment are equivalent to alcohol intoxication impairment. Shortcuts, like drinking coffee, help drowsy drivers feel more alert. But these shortcuts don’t address the underlying effects of fatigue.

Speaking of shortcuts, many truckers use amphetamines to stave off the effects of fatigue. These drugs help alertness, but they further impair judgment ability. Additionally, when these drugs wear off, users crash very fast and very hard.

Aggressive driving, like unsafe turning, also causes many truck crashes. Truckers often operate in unfamiliar areas. Sudden road changes, like a right-turn-only lane, often catch them off guard, even if they are using a GPS navigation system. Today’s trucks are so huge that even a slight emergency move could cause the truck to careen out of control.

*Third-Party Liability*The aforementioned additional layer is respondeat superior employer liability. Drivers are legally responsible for the wrecks they cause. The transportation, shipping, or other company that owns the truck or the cargo is financially responsible for the damages these crashes cause, at least in most cases.

Respondeat superior applies if the tortfeasor (negligent driver) was an employee who was working within the course and scope of employment. State law broadly defines these key terms. For example, many truckers are independent contractors or owner-operators for most financial purposes. But these truckers are employees for negligence purposes since the company controls their behavior to a certain extent.

Other employer liability theories, which often apply in assault and other intentional tort cases, include negligent hiring and negligent supervision.

*Connect With a Dedicated 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 do not charge upfront legal fees in these matters.