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 is the Difference Between a TBI and an ABI in Issaquah?

Posted Friday, April 21, 2023 by Chris Thayer

Traumatic Brain Injuries and Acquired Brain Injuries send over one million people to hospital emergency rooms every year. All too often, doctors prematurely release these patients, usually without even keeping them overnight. ABI and TBI symptoms often mimic the symptoms of other conditions, like accident shock and fatigue. So, in these cases, doctors often tell patients to go home and rest. As a result, their brain injuries get worse.

If negligence caused a TBI or medical malpractice caused an ABI, an Issaquah personal injury lawyer can obtain the financial compensation these victims need and deserve. Brain injuries usually mean sky-high medical bills, and victims must be able to pay these bills. Furthermore, these victims deserve compensation, so they can live the rest of their lives in the best way possible.

*TBIs and Ordinary Negligence*Car crashes are the leading cause of brain injuries in King County. Driver negligence causes most car wrecks.

No safety system, no matter how advanced, can absorb all the force in a high-speed wreck. Seatbelts, airbags, and other systems reduce the risk of blunt force trauma head injuries, but they certainly don’t eliminate that risk.

Furthermore, blunt force often does not cause collision-related head injuries. Instead, sudden violent motion causes them. When the head snaps backward and forward, the brain slams against the insides of the skull.

Aggressive driving, like speeding, and impaired driving, like drunk driving, are usually negligence. These behaviors may not be malicious, but they are certainly not accidental. People do not accidentally speed or get behind the wheel while intoxicated, at least in most cases.

Property owners have a duty of care as well. Typically, they must ensure that the premises are free from fall or other injury hazards. If they know about, or should know about, such a defect and do not immediately remedy the problem, an Issaquah personal injury lawyer can obtain compensation in court.

This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.

*ABIs and Professional Negligence*Chronic illnesses, like cancer, often cause acquired brain injuries. Since they have so much education and training, doctors have a fiduciary duty. They must disregard other priorities, like getting home on time and making money, and only do what’s best for their patients.

Misdiagnosis is one of the most common kinds of ABI-causing professional negligence. When it comes to cancer, most doctors focus on genetic and lifestyle markers. If the patient has neither, cancer isn’t even a possibility, as far as the doctor is concerned. As a result, the cancer misdiagnosis rate may be as high as 50 percent.

In addition to the compensatory damages mentioned above, these victims often receive additional punitive damages. These damages are available if there is clear and convincing evidence that the tortfeasor (negligent actor) intentionally disregarded a known risk.

*Count on a Thorough King County Attorney*Injury victims are entitled to substantial compensation. 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 start fighting for you.

Legal Issues in a Mercer Island Pedestrian Accident

Posted Friday, April 14, 2023 by Chris Thayer

In 2021, the number of fatal pedestrian accidents in Washington hit a 40-year high. Speed-related accidents and child fatalities were the major driving forces. Excessive velocity is a primary factor in pedestrian crashes, to say the least. The pedestrian fatality rate jumps from 10% at impact speeds of 20mph to 90% at impact speeds of over 50mph. The increased child fatalities suggest that children were not just in crosswalks coming home from school anymore, especially during pandemic lockdowns.

Since pedestrians have no protection from oncoming cars, these incidents usually cause serious injuries. A Mercer Island personal injury attorney can obtain compensation for the economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering, these incidents cause. Perhaps more importantly, legal action forces tortfeasors (negligent drivers) to accept responsibility for these incidents.

*Making a Case*The legal issues in a crosswalk pedestrian accident are often straightforward. In many cases, Washington law requires drivers to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians in crosswalks, whether they have the light or not.

There is some dispute as to what constitutes “in” a crosswalk. Generally, however, courts require the victim to be at least a third of the way across the street in these situations.

If a tortfeasor violates a safety law and causes injury, the tortfeasor could be legally responsible for the crash as a matter of law, under the negligence per se rule. Significantly, this rule only applies if an emergency responder issues a citation. That may or may not happen in these cases.

So, in many crosswalk pedestrian accidents, as well as all non-crosswalk pedestrian accidents, a Mercer Island personal injury attorney must use the ordinary negligence doctrines to obtain compensation. This doctrine has four basic prongs:

  • Duty: The duty of reasonable care, which applies to most noncommercial drivers in Washington, requires them to avoid accidents, including collisions with pedestrians, if at all possible.
  • Breach: Common breaches (violations) of the duty of care include aggressive driving and impaired driving. We mentioned the most common kind of aggressive driving (speeding) above. Driver impairment includes driving under the influence of alcohol or while dangerously fatigued.
  • Cause: Compensation is available if there is a connection between the breach and the damages, or cause-in-fact. Additionally, victims/plaintiffs must prove foreseeability (possibility) of injury. If Mike hits Rick, who flies through a plate glass window and strikes Alice, her injury was not foreseeable.
  • Damages: Most victims must sustain a tangible injury, no matter how slight, to obtain compensation. Negligent infliction of emotional distress or a similar claim may be available in non-physical injury cases.

A Mercer Island personal injury lawyer must prove every element of an ordinary negligence case by a preponderance of the evidence, or more likely than not.

*Overcoming Defenses*Comparative fault and sudden emergency are probably the two most common insurance company defenses in a pedestrian accident claim.

Basically, comparative fault is the victim’s failure to watch where s/he was going. If the victim crosses the street without looking both ways, the law may reduce the amount of compensation the tortfeasor, or rather the tortfeasor’s insurance company, must pay.

Sudden emergency excuses negligence if the tortfeasor reasonably reacted to a sudden emergency, which the law defines as a completely unexpected situation, like a hood fly-up. A jaywalking pedestrian is not a sudden emergency. Instead, it is an everyday hazard, like a large pothole.

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

Breaking Down a Motorcycle Crash in Burien

Posted Friday, April 7, 2023 by Chris Thayer

Mostly because motorcyclists have so little personal protection, the motorcycle rider fatality rate is 30 times higher than the four-wheel vehicle occupant collision fatality rate. Even if these victims survive, they usually sustain serious injuries, like severe broken bones and head injuries. Riders generally sustain these injuries when the force of an impact propels them off their biles and onto the ground.

The medical bills in a catastrophic (life-threatening) injury case often exceed $100,000. Furthermore, these victims understandably have a hard time putting these accidents behind them and moving on with their lives. A Burien personal injury lawyer obtains compensation for both economic and noneconomic losses in court. Perhaps more importantly, an attorney forces tortfeasors (negligent drivers) to accept responsibility for the mistakes they make.

*What Causes Motorcycle Wrecks?*These mistakes, which include aggressive and impaired driving, cause over 98% of vehicle collisions in Washington.

Illegal turning, speeding, and other forms of aggressive driving affect motorcyclists a lot more than four-wheel vehicles. Motorcycle riders cannot swerve or stop suddenly to avoid aggressive drivers. If they do so, they usually lose control of their bikes, causing a worse crash than the one they prevented.

Aggressive driving behaviors accelerated during coronavirus lockdowns since traffic enforcement dropped to nearly nothing and roads mostly emptied.

Pandemic lockdowns created some other bad driving habits as well, such as driving while intoxicated. Alcohol is a depressant that clouds judgment and slows reaction time. People need to be 100% in both areas to safely operate motor vehicles and other heavy machinery.

Other kinds of impaired driving include driving while fatigued, under the influence of drugs, or while distracted. Usually, these tortfeasors consciously make such decisions and therefore deliberately put other people at risk. As a result, a Burien personal injury lawyer can usually obtain higher compensation in these matters.

*Establishing Liability*Aggressive and impaired driving usually violates safety laws. If a safety law violation caused injury, the tortfeasor might be responsible for damages as a matter of law.

However, the negligence per se rule only applies if emergency responders gave the tortfeasor a citation. That often doesn’t happen. Frequently, car crashes are civil matters, as far as most officers are concerned. So, they rarely issue citations and get involved in these disputes.

The ordinary negligence rule is available in these cases. Liability for the crash attaches if the tortfeasor:

  • Had a legal duty to drive defensively,
  • Breached that duty by driving aggressively or while impaired,
  • The breach substantially caused injury, and
  • The victim sustained tangible personal injury or property damage.

Some exceptions apply. For example, the negligent infliction of emotional distress doctrine sometimes applies in near-miss collisions.

Overcoming Defenses

Comparative fault and assumption of the risk are the two most common insurance company defenses in motorcycle crash claims.

Contributory negligence basically shifts blame for an accident from the tortfeasor to the victim. Attorneys use evidence to blunt this defense. This evidence must emphasize the things the victim did right and the things the tortfeasor did wrong.

Assumption of the risk, or the motorcycle helmet defense, is effective in some states. Generally, if victims don’t wear helmets, insurance company lawyers can blame the victims for their own injuries. But in King County, evidence of motorcycle helmet non-use is inadmissible in civil proceedings.

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

Head Injury Diagnosis and Treatment Issues on Mercer Island

Posted Friday, March 31, 2023 by Chris Thayer

Car crashes are the leading cause of head injuries in the United States. These wounds kill over 60,000 Americans every year. The violent motion of a car crash, as opposed to a trauma impact, usually causes a TBI. The human brain is not much bigger than a clenched fist. This motion causes it to slam against the insides of the skulls.

These injuries are degenerative. As brain bleeding continues, initial symptoms, like confusion and disorientation, become more advanced symptoms, like constant severe headaches and personality changes. When symptoms get to that point, advanced effects, like dementia and death, aren’t far away.

Because of the serious nature of these injuries, victims are entitled to substantial compensation. A Mercer Island personal injury attorney fights for this compensation in court. This tenacious stance enables most lawyers to resolve these claims out of court and on victim-friendly terms.

*Head Injury Diagnosis*We mentioned initial head injury symptoms above. These symptoms are almost the exact same symptoms as accident shock. Almost all accident victims are disoriented and confused, regardless of their injuries.

Additionally, most doctors look for signature symptoms, like unconsciousness and vomiting, when they diagnose head injuries. If the victim is dazed and confused but awake and nauseated but not vomiting, many doctors dismiss the possibility of a TBI.

Therefore, many doctors don’t order MRIs or other advanced tests, mostly because they are afraid the insurance company will say the test was unnecessary and refuse to pay for it.

Furthermore, head injuries are not unique to high-speed crashes. Low-speed crashes often cause whiplash, a specific type of head injury. The spine is a delicate chain of nerves and vertebrae. This chain has practically no protection. So, a little force could cause spinal misalignment. This misalignment could cause intense pain or, even worse, permanent paralysis.

*Head Injury Treatment*Most injuries heal, given sufficient time and proper treatment. Brain injuries are permanent, no matter what doctors do. Dead brain cells never regenerate. However, doctors can use a combination of surgery and physical therapy to effectively manage TBI symptoms.

As the name implies, brain surgery is a very delicate procedure. Only a handful of Washington State doctors are qualified to perform this procedure. These doctors don’t make house calls, and they are not available 24/7. Instead, the victim must go to a large regional hospital that’s usually in Seattle or another large city, and the surgeon works on his/her own schedule.

Brain injury physical therapy is difficult as well. These therapists must train uninjured areas of the brain to take over lost functions. This process is long, and progress comes in fits and starts.

Most people do not work with brain surgeons and TBI physical therapists on an everyday basis. So, a Mercer Island personal injury lawyer connects victims with these professionals. Usually, these surgeons and therapists charge nothing upfront for their services.

*Count on a Tough-Minded King County Attorney*Injury victims are entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Mercer Island, contact Pivotal Law Group, PLLC. You have a limited amount of time to act.

Top Five Truck Wreck Injuries in Issaquah

Posted Friday, March 24, 2023 by Chris Thayer

Automobile safety features have improved significantly over the years. But a fully-loaded semi-truck weighs over 80,000 pounds. No safety system, no matter how advanced, could possibly handle all that force. Therefore, even if a victim is in the safest car in the world, in a truck wreck, that victim often sustains catastrophic injuries. Some of these injuries are outlined below.

Usually, medical bills in catastrophic injury cases exceed $100,000. Many health insurance companies don’t cover injury-related costs. So, it is important for an Issaquah personal injury lawyer to obtain compensation for these injuries in court. Without this compensation, these victims are often financially responsible for these costs. That outcome simply is not fair to anyone.

Serious B**urns

Diesel fuel and gasoline burn at different temperatures. Large trucks often carry hundreds of gallons of diesel fuel. Therefore, the burns in a truck crash case are usually a lot worse than the burns in a car crash case.

Generally, truck crashes cause third-degree burns, which affect the inner skin layers. These injuries usually require painful skin grafts at specialty regional burn centers. So, these victims not only have higher medical bills. They also must endure higher pain levels, a fact that drives up their noneconomic losses.

*Crushed Bones*The extreme force in a truck wreck doesn’t just break bones. It usually shatters them. As a result, doctors must often use metal parts to surgically reconstruct these bones. The additional intervention on the front end means longer physical therapy on the back end. Once again, these factors drive up medical bills and increase emotional distress.

As a side note, broken bones often cause nerve injuries. Therefore, doctors and physical therapists have twice as much work to do.

Frequently, these injuries are permanent. For example, even if a broken ankle heals, the victim may permanently lose the range of motion in that joint.

*Head Injuries*These injuries are also force-related injuries. Vehicle collisions cause the brain to violently and repeatedly slam against the insides of the skull. The violent motion often causes brain bleeding and swelling.

Also, much like broken bones, head injuries are permanent. Brain surgery can reduce swelling and contain the damage. Brain injury therapists can train uninjured parts of the brain to assume lost functions. But the injury itself never gets better, making the victim prone to other, even more serious injuries in the future.

An Issaquah personal injury lawyer connects truck crash victims with the specialists they need for surgery, physical therapy, and other purposes.

*PTSD*Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a specific kind of brain injury that is common in large truck wrecks. Extreme stress triggers chemical changes in the brain. The effects of these changes include depression, anger, and flashbacks.

Like other kinds of brain injuries, PTSD is manageable. But the drugs are very strong, and rehabilitative therapy is often hit or miss.

Internal* Injuries*The same motion and force that causes these other injuries causes internal organs to grind and bump against each other. When that happens, the tiny abrasions bleed badly since these organs have no protective skin layers. Internal bleeding is often hard to spot and even harder to stop. As a result, many victims lose up to a fifth of their blood supply. Many people simply cannot survive that degree of blood loss.

*Connect With a Thorough King County Attorney*Injury victims are entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Issaquah, contact Pivotal Law Group, PLLC. You have a limited amount of time to act.