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

How Will Washington’s Comparative Fault Rules Affect My Negligence Claim?

Posted Friday, March 19, 2021 by Chris Thayer

Being involved in a vehicle collision can be a devastating and traumatic experience. Injuries sustained in a car accident can alter someone’s day-to-day life and their long-term career options. If you or a loved one has been injured in a Washington state vehicle collision, you may be feeling hopeless and overwhelmed by medical bills, vehicle repairs, rental car bills, and other expenses, in addition to trying to heal and move on with your life. This is why many victims of car accidents choose to bring a personal injury lawsuit.

*Damages Available in a Washington Personal Injury Lawsuit * A personal injury lawsuit aims to put the victim back in the position that they would have been in financially had the accident never occurred. This can mean compensation for all medical expenses paid as a result of the crash, as well as for future medical treatment, lost wages, lost earning potential, and more. While nothing can erase the emotional and physical damage that a car accident can cause, a personal injury lawyer can help you pursue compensation for the full amount of financial damage suffered. Seeking compensation for the non-economic damages of pain and suffering also allow you to penalize the offender for the pain their recklessness caused you. These damages can vary based on different factors, such as the degree of recklessness or malice on the part of the offender, as well as the degree of harm caused to the victim, how permanent it is, and how it will affect their life. There is no cap on these damages, and they can extend into the millions depending on the specific circumstances of the case.

*Washington State’s Comparative Fault Rule for Negligence * In Washington state, negligence is assessed using the comparative fault standard. This means that when making a determination of liability for the crash, the court will consider the fault of both parties. If the suing party is determined to have contributed a percentage of fault to causing the accident, the proportionate percentage will be deducted from their damages award.

For instance, let’s take a situation in which Driver A is driving drunk and blows through a stop sign while weaving around the road, ultimately hitting Driver B who came to a rolling stop at a stop sign. Driver B suffered serious injuries, including a broken collar bone. The jury may determine that Driver A was 90% at fault, and that Driver B’s failure to come to a complete stop made them 10% at fault. If the jury then awarded Driver B $100,000 in damages, Driver B would receive $90,000 ($100,000 - 10%).

An experienced Washington personal injury attorney will know to present the strongest possible version of your case, while also preparing for the defense to try and mitigate their own liability.

*Talk to an Experienced Washington Personal Injury Attorney * If you or someone you love has been injured in a Washington vehicle accident, Pivotal Law Group is ready to advocate on your behalf. Serving Seattle, Bellevue, Kent, Rento, Burien, Mercer Island, Issaquah, and all surrounding areas, our lawyers are prepared to help you navigate the legal process and get you the settlement that you deserve. Call today to schedule a consultation.

How Keeping a Pain Journal After an Accident Can Increase Your Settlement

Posted Friday, March 12, 2021 by Chris Thayer

A car accident can be a truly devastating occurrence mentally, physically, and financially. It may feel like asking you to write a pain journal after a vehicle collision is just adding insult to injury. After all, you are probably investing a lot of effort in trying to ignore your pain and get on with your life. However, it is not fair that you have to suffer the medical consequences of someone else’s negligence or recklessness. It is important to seek medical attention immediately following an accident, to ensure that you are aware of all injuries and that they are documented for insurance and the settlement. Injuries left untended, or that you try to ignore, can turn into permanent injuries and chronic conditions. Filing a personal injury lawsuit can be a way of ensuring that you are able to get the medical care that you need, without being barred by cost or a lack of insurance. If your harm was caused by someone else’s negligence, they are legally and financially responsible for the damages. A Washington personal injury lawyer can help you sue them to collect the compensation that you are owed by law.

*What is a Pain Journal? * A pain journal can be whatever you want it to be, but in its simplest form, it is a daily journal tracking your pain, physical limitations, and emotional trauma, following an accident. In your pain journal, you may choose to include frequent photographs and documentation of your injuries, doctor’s appointments and appointments with specialists that you attended for your injuries, time out of your day spent tending to your injuries, how your injuries or pain have affected your ability to engage in day-to-day life, complete personal care tasks, or do your job, and any emotional issues that are coming up for you, including nightmares, panic attack, and increased anxiety. If you used to be a delivery driver and you now have crippling panic attacks every time you are in a vehicle which kept you from doing your job, this is an important thing to write in your journal. If you could not hold your newborn baby because of the broken arms you sustained in a crash, that is also important to include.

*How Does a Pain Journal Help My Settlement?* Pain and suffering are non-economic forms of compensation, awarded based on the perceived pain and suffering caused to the victim. The more accurate and personal a picture you are able to paint of your pain and suffering for the jury, the more accurately they will be able to match a monetary number to the trauma you have endured. A jury can hear that you broke two arms in a car crash and understand that it hurt, but it is another thing for them to understand how it impacted you on a daily level — how it kept you from being able to cook for your children, or provide for your family, or how you still cannot sleep without nightmares.

*Talk to a Washington Personal Injury Lawyer * If you have been injured in a Washington car accident, Pivotal Law Group wants to help you fight to get the compensation that you deserve. Serving Seattle, Bellevue, Kent, Rento, Burien, Mercer Island, Issaquah, and all surrounding areas, our lawyers are prepared to offer you a free personalized initial consultation. Call today to schedule your free consultation.

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.