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

I have been in a car accident, do I really need to hire a Personal Injury Attorney?

Posted Monday, July 2, 2012 by Chris Thayer

I think this is a real world question that people face every day. The “stock” answer that you frequently hear is that insurance companies have attorneys so therefore you should as well. I think this is an incomplete answer. Does every person involved in a motor vehicle accident need to hire a lawyer? Absolutely not.

Certainly if there are no injuries and the only real issue is dealing with the property damage, in most instances it will not be necessary to retain an attorney. If your injuries are quite minor and resolve quickly, then it is often not economical to retain a personal injury attorney. This is because, in most instances, personal injury matters are handled on a contingent fee basis - meaning that the attorneys’ fees are paid out of the gross recovery (vs. paying by the hour). If you have a case that is only worth a couple of thousand dollars (or less), you will need to consider carefully whether or not the ecomics make sense for you. In many (if not most) cases, an experienced personal injury attorney can increase and maximize the value of your claim. However, the attorney also needs to get paid and it may be in some very modest cases, that the gain in the increased settlement value is offset by the fees that have to be paid (as well as some costs).

But, and this is an important point, just because it may not make sense to hire a personal injury attorney, doesnt’ mean you should not at least talk with one early on. I will talk with prosepective clients and provide an initial free consultation. You can learn some basic insights into your claim, what to expect and some tips on dealign with the insurance companies. This information can help you decide whether or not, in your particular instance, it makes sense to hire an attorney.

If you have suffered significant injuries in a car accident, you owe it to yourself (to ensure you make informed decisions) to get more information about the process and your rights. Do keep in mind that insurance adjusters deal with thousands of claims, and their goal, whether stated or not, is to pay you the least amount possible. Insurance companies are for profit entities, and the less that is paid out on claims, the more profit they can make. Before you decide whether or not to try to handle your personal injury claim on your own, I would highly recommend you contact an experienced personal injury attorney for an initial free consultation so that you can make a properly informed decision.

What to expect from your Personal Injury Deposition - Part II

Posted Thursday, June 28, 2012 by Chris Thayer

As noted in a previous blog entry on this topic, this public blog is not the appropriate place to include detailed legal advice. Before proceeding with your deposition, you will want to meet with your lawyer and review your specific case in person. However, I can provide a few more basic tips to consider that can help you get through your deposition.

BROAD SCOPE OF QUESTIONS. In what is known as the “discovery” phase of a personal injury lawsuit, the parties are allowed to request and obtain a broad range of information. Some of this information may seem entirely irrelevant to your case. Often it will feel like an unreasonable invasion of your privacy and your personal information. Keep in mind two things: (1) just because this information is “discoverable” does not mean it is admissible evidence that will be allowed in at trial; and (2) some attorneys workign for insurance companies deliberately try to embarass you and make you feel uncomfortable - in an effort to dissuade you from pursuing your case. Don’t give in. At your deposition you can expect a broad range of questions about your background. This may delve into personal issues that you woudl rather not discuss with “strangers”. Discuss these issues with your attorney in advance so you can decide how to deal with them. Be honest and don’t be intimidated.

For many of my personal injury clients I will seek entry of a Protective Order, that will help ensure that their private and personal information is maintained as confidential - and preventing the insurance company from sharing this information outside of the lawsuit.

ANSWER THE QUESTION THAT IS ASKED. It is easy to get caught up in the flow of a deposition and get ahead of yourself. This sounds like obvious advice, but it is harder than you think: be careful to answer the specific question that is asked; not the question you think the insurance defense attorney should ask or is trying to ask. This is not a conversation. It is important to listen carefully to the question before answering. If you don’t understand the question, you have the right to ask for clarification or to have the question restated. There is absolutely nothing wrong with stating “I don’t understand your question, could you rephrase that for me please?” This is an issue that you should discuss with your attorney prior to your deposition.

What to expect in your Personal Injury Deposition - part I

Posted Thursday, April 26, 2012 by Chris Thayer

A common procedure in almost every personal injury lawsuit is to have the defendant’s attorney (typically hired by an insurance company) take your deposition. This is a process where the attorney will ask you questions with a court reporter present. Depositions typically take place in an attorney’s conference room. The court reporter will swear you in, just as if you were on the witness stand in court and will transcribe word for word all of the questions, your answers, and any objections by your attorney.

I usually spend several hours working with my client prior to their deposition. This public forum (my blog) is not a place to include detailed advice about how to handle a deposition, but I will provide a few tips, and I intend to revisit this topic from time to time with additional pointers.

Depositions allow a defendant to find out information about your background, including your medical and employment history, as well as how your personal injuries may have affected your life. The defendant’s attorney will tell you that they are not there to trick you and “all I want is information”. That is not entirely true - they do want information, but what they want is information that will arguably harm or reduce the value of your case.

There are two pieces of basic advice that I tell all my clients before they have their deposition taken:

(1) BE PREPARED. Review medical records, accident reports and other records to refresh your memory about your injuries, treatment and the general overall timeline. This will also help you feel less anxious, as you won’t be worried about forgetting something, and will reduce the risk you will answer a question incorrectly - which defendant may try to use against you later if you attempt to correct the mistake. I usually meet with my client several days before their deposition and spend a few hours with them helping them prepare for the likely questions.

(2) TELL THE TRUTH. This seems very obvious, but it is worth emphasizing. The scope of potential questions that can come up in a deposition are quite broad, and to the average layperson at times seem like they are entirely unrelated to your actual claim. You may be embarassed or concerned about something that happened in your past that you would rather not talk about. Even though it may be entirely unrelated to the underlying accident, it may still come up in your deposition. You are far far better off to answer honestly and just deal with the issue head on. If you lie about something, not only are you potentially perjuring yourself, but you run the risk of doing far more damage to your claim if/when the truth comes out. You can anticipate that the defense will make a huge issue about this - and attack your credibility. Even what a lay person might consider a “little white lie” can have huge consequences. Your best option is to discuss all “skeletons” in your closet with your attorney before the deposition. An experienced personal injury attorney will know how to advise you on how best to answer such questions.

Bicycle Accidents in Seattle from 2007-2011

Posted Friday, February 17, 2012 by Chris Thayer

The WA Department of Transportion recently released an interactive map depicting the number of bicycle accidents, including those involving fatalities, in the City of Seattle. Not surprisingly, the largest concentration of accidents are found in the downtown area, with the heavy concentration of bicycle commuters, bicycle messengers, combined with congested traffic and frequently limited sightlines.

Here is a link to the Seattle Times story which includes the interactive map -

Accident Map

What to expect from an IME

Posted Wednesday, December 14, 2011 by Chris Thayer

An “IME” (independant medical examination) is an examination by a supposedly independant doctor or chiropractor, generally performed at the request of an insurance company. These arise primarily in two contexts: at the request of your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurer, or at the request of the third party liability carrier.

Your PIP policy typically provides that it will pay for all medical expenses that are “reasonable, necessary and related [to the accident]” or words to that effect. This means that, regardless of fault in the accident, your PIP policy will cover your medical expenses. However, if the insurance company starts to have concerns about whether or not the treatment you are receiving is “reasonable, necessary or related”, it may request an IME by a doctor or chiropractor of its choosing. You have certain rights with respect to a PIP IME, and if you have not already retained an attorney to protect your interests, if you receive a request for a PIP IME, you should consider consulting an attorney. Very generally, you are typically going to be required to undergo the IME as there is most likely a “cooperation” clause in your insurance policy, but you should be aware of your rights before you attend the examination.

An IME by a third party liability carrier typically only arises after a lawsuit has been filed. If the third party carrier requests such an examination pre-lawsuit, you should absolutely consult an attorney. You have the right to refuse this examination pre-lawsuit and most cases you should refuse.

Keep in mind that insurance companies typically refer IME request to the same select group of doctors and chiropractors. Some of these doctors and chiropractors no longer maintain a clinical practice and their entire business is devoted to working with insurance companies. The insurance companies are looking for ways to reduce the amount they have to pay on claims. It is not surprising then that many of these IME doctors and chiropractors retained by the insurance industry are very conservative and routinely issue reports that are contrary to the claimant’s own treating healthcare provider’s assessments and recommendations.

Understand the role of the IME doctor or chiropractor before you attend your examination. Also, you should reach agreement that the examination will be videotaped, or at least audiorecorded to protect yourself and ensure that the examining doctor or chiropractor honestly reports their findings. You should familiarize yourself with “Waddell Signs” which are a series of tests that the examiner will likely conduct, with the purported purpose of determining whether or not a person is exaggerating or manufacturing certain symptoms.

Dealing with an IME request by an insurance company can be challenging and complicated. You do have rights and there are measures that can be takent to try to ensure you are treated as fairly as possible. If you have received a request for an IME from an insurance company, you should consider consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney promptly, to ensure your rights are protected.