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

Washington State Dram Shop Laws

Posted Friday, October 9, 2020 by Chris Thayer

Alternative TextWashington state, like many states, places specific rules and restrictions on establishments that serve alcohol to the public. One such restriction is that they are not to serve alcohol to anyone who is visibly intoxicated. The goal of such a law is to avoid individuals being over-served alcohol to the point where injuries and other tragedies occur. Not all establishments adhere to these rules, and there are no doubt many businesses that turn a blind eye to the rules. After all, most of the time nothing bad happens. But what happens when something tragic does occur?

This is where a skilled personal injury trial lawyer can be very helpful in assisting with recovering compensation to pay for medical bills and lost income after an accident. To better understand how Washington dram shop laws may affect your rights in an accident, consider the following snapshot of dram shop laws in our state.

*What is a Dram Shop Law?* In Washington, RCW 66.44.200 is a statute that limits the service of alcohol. Under this law, a business may not serve alcohol to anyone who is “apparently under the influence of alcohol.” In practice, this can be tricky. After all, people go to bars to drink. Most people in a bar are “under the influence,” technically. However, Washington law also requires that bars and restaurants provide basic training to waitstaff and bartenders, which includes information on how to identify the signs of intoxication, such as:

  • Slurred speech
  • Imbalance
  • Difficulty completing sentences
  • Red or watery eyes
  • Lack of judgment / heightened emotional responses
  • Difficulty staying awake when sitting down
  • Loss of fine motor skills

*What Happens if a Bar Over-Serves Someone and They Cause a Wreck?* This is where dram shop laws come into play. When a bar is reckless in over-serving someone who then goes outside, gets into a car, and causes serious injury or death to another person on the roadway, the bar may share liability for the injuries or death.

Consider that if a lawsuit must be filed and the case proceeds to a jury trial, there are specific instructions that a court must give to the jury to help them in making a decision about liability. These are commonly known as “jury instructions.” WPI (Pattern Jury Instruction) 370.01 reads as follows: “A vendor of alcohol owes a duty to third persons not to serve alcohol to a person who is apparently under the influence of alcohol.”

So, if an attorney can prove to a jury that a bar did indeed over-serve a patron, and that patron did indeed cause or contribute to the injuries of another, then the bar may be held in part or wholly responsible for the injuries caused by that patron.

*Getting Help After an Injury* If you or a loved one have been hurt by a drunk driver in Washington state, it is important to work with a firm that understands all the nuances of injury law, including the many sources of compensation that exist, even beyond the negligent driver who caused the wreck. At Pivotal Law Group, our attorneys maintain a close relationship with treatment providers and private investigators. We are often able to locate additional sources of financial recovery to help our clients maximize their compensation. Call or visit our firm online today to set up a personal and private free consultation to learn more about how we may be able to help.

Winter Driving Tips for 2020

Posted Friday, October 2, 2020 by Chris Thayer

Alternative TextAs the winter season rapidly approaches in many parts of Washington State, accidents and emergencies are going to start happening, as they always do. This is especially true in places like Stevens Pass and Snoqualmie Pass. Often, these Passes close or become inaccessible as early as October and November. With snow beginning to fall in some parts, it is important to once again revisit some basic safety tips for winter driving. Of course, if you are seriously hurt by a careless or reckless driver who is disregarding basic safety rules, you should always reach out to a skilled Washington personal injury attorney near you.

*Know Your Limits* It is easy for long-time or even lifelong residents of rural Washington State to become overconfident in their driving and survival skills. After all, once you have lived through deadly winter storms a few times, you begin to feel like a bit of an expert. Take a step back and reassess your abilities and comfort levels. Do you have the right vehicle for the conditions? Do you feel comfortable navigating a road with little to now emergency services available for upwards of 40-50 miles? Think twice and do not take unnecessary chances.

*Pack Heavy* It is a bit obvious to suggest packing survival gear, but it is essential. If you are going to drive outside of the heart of any major city, you need to have the following items at a minimum:

  • Bottled water
  • Blankets
  • Flashlight
  • Source of heat (heated blanket, foot/hand warmers)
  • Food
  • Battery charger for cell phone

*Slow Down* Again, it may seem obvious, but a lot of people continue trying to drive the speed limit (or faster) even when snow and ice are on the road. This is pure folly, as it greatly increases your risk of crashing. According to a report by the International Transport Forum, an independent committee that consists of 59 member countries, speed is directly linked to the risk of a crash. In fact, the faster the speed, the more likely a collision will occur, regardless of weather conditions. And the more severe the conditions, this risk can be increased exponentially, due to decreased reaction time.

*Tires are Key* No matter what, make sure your tires get checked. They should be adequately inflated, have plenty of tread, and be the right type of tires for the conditions. Those rain tread tires may be fine for a rainy Seattle slush, but east of the Cascades in the dead of winter, those tires will do little to help you maintain traction on a snow-covered pass.

*Getting Help After a Collision* We all know that no matter what precautions we take, there will always be those careless individuals who put us all in harm’s way. When these reckless drivers seriously hurt people, there is often little that can be done to undo the harm. But the law does provide options for making sure these people are held accountable and that they cover the cost of the damages they cause. If you or a loved one are hurt in a winter crash, call Pivotal Law Group today, and schedule a free case evaluation to discuss your situation right away.

Six Things to Know About Trucking Accidents

Posted Friday, September 25, 2020 by Chris Thayer

Alternative TextWhen people are involved in collisions with commercial vehicles, the injuries are worse, the damages more costly, and chances for fatal or life-altering harm are increased. Insurance carriers and commercial motor carriers are all too aware of the exposure and risk involved in these high-stakes collisions. You can pretty much bet that if you are hurt by a semi-truck in the Pacific Northwest, you will be facing a wall of insurance adjusters, claims representatives, and skilled defense attorneys. If you want fair and reasonable compensation for the harm they caused, it is going to require a fight. The attorneys of Pivotal Law Group, PLLC are dedicated and have decades of experience handling complex injury litigation in Seattle and surrounding areas. Here are six things you should know about trucking accidents that make a big difference when trying to recover compensation.

*Act Fast* The number one thing you need to know is that time is of the essence. This is not just an expression. Some trucking companies have been known to actually hide or destroy evidence, repair vehicles and trailers to conceal facts that could lead to liability, and even deploy private investigators to get statements from witnesses and victims alike. You need a legal team working for you as soon as possible.

*Damages are Bigger* There simply is no way a semi-truck can collide with a passenger car and not cause serious damages. With big damage comes big injuries. Injuries tend to include:

  • Concussion
  • Brain injury
  • Amputations
  • Paralysis
  • Nerve damage
  • Lacerations
  • Punctures
  • Burns
  • Death

*Settlement is Not Easy* One would think that with bigger injuries, a settlement would be easier. The opposite, however, tends to be the truth. Insurance adjusters are more inclined to fight and retain law firms to defend their cases when large amounts are on the line.

*Evidence can be Complicated* Unlike a straightforward case with two passenger vehicles, commercial vehicles are subject to all sorts of federal and state regulations. Consider one division of the Department of Transportation known as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). This agency is tasked with making regulations and ensuring the safety of the commercial trucking industry. To adequately investigate a trucking accident, an attorney will need investigators, will need to get access to the crash data recorder, and often locate employees and witnesses to interview.

*Lawyers Need to Understand Log Rules* Truck drivers may cause serious crashes due to fatigue. Fatigue is often the direct result of ignoring hours of service rules, which are designed to keep accidents from happening by limiting driver fatigue and asleep-at-the-wheel collisions. If a lawyer is to effectively obtain a judgment for the plaintiff in a trucking case, it is paramount that they understand hours of service rules.

*Trucking Accidents are Costly to Fight* It is never cheap to pursue justice in a personal injury case. When it comes to trucking collisions, it can cost thousands of dollars to obtain medical records, crash data, assistance from medical experts and private investigators. All this is even before considering all of the court costs and fees. Fortunately, when you work with a reputable personal injury firm, you do not have to worry about any of that. At Pivotal Law Group, PLLC, we cover all costs of litigation and investigation of your case. We only recover these funds if we are successful in getting money for your injuries. Therefore, there really is no cost for you to pursue justice. Give us a call or find us online to learn more or to set up a free consultation today.

Five Common Medical Mistakes You Should Know Before You Go to the Hospital

Posted Friday, September 18, 2020 by Chris Thayer

Alternative TextAccording to CNBC, citing a Johns Hopkins study from just a couple years ago, medical errors are actually the third-leading cause of death in the U.S. When medical malpractice attorneys remind people of this staggering fact, many are simply unaware, but it is remarkable how many Americans suffer not only death, but also serious and permanent injuries due to careless or even reckless healthcare providers. At Pivotal Law Group, we are passionate about pursuing justice for clients. Before going into a hospital or other health facility, every Washingtonian should be aware of these five common medical mistakes that claim many lives annually.

*Wrong Site Procedures* Whether it is the amputation of a wrong body part or having surgery on the wrong part of your anatomy, there are little more infuriating mistakes that can be made. In the medical community, basic standards of practice should entirely prevent this from even being possible, so long as people stick to the protocol. When a doctor or other professional deviates from that standard and causes unnecessary harm, it is serious.

*Medication Errors* According to the peer-reviewed research journal, Drug Safety, about 30% of all medication errors in hospitals are preventable. While not all medication errors result in harm, when they do it can be devastating. In fact, for those who are high-risk or dealing with other medical conditions, a medication error can be lethal.

*Failure to Diagnose or Treat* This may also be lumped in with other medical errors, but the failure to properly perform a differential diagnosis in order to rule out conditions and make an accurate diagnosis early on in the treatment of a patient can lead to serious or even fatal consequences. Medical professionals have procedures to follow when diagnosing potential causes of symptoms. When physicians or other professionals fail to follow these procedures, they can miss serious health issues, such as cancer.

*Surgical Tools Left Behind* Maybe the most obvious and indefensible category of medical negligence is when sponges, utensils, and other foreign objects are left behind in a patient’s body following surgery. This can have catastrophic effects on a patient’s life, and it can lead to pain and agony for months or even years before being detected. Put simply, there is no other explanation for a utensil being left behind except for negligence.

*Incorrect Treatments* Beyond the obvious problems, simply making a diagnosis is not enough. A health profession must adhere to the relevant standards of practice for his or her field of expertise. When professionals fail to do so, they often end up providing incorrect or ineffective treatment options for their patients. This can lead to delays in proper treatment and even cause serious and permanent injury or death.

If you or a loved one are dealing with the painful effects of medical negligence in Washington State, contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney who can help you make sense of the mistakes and possibly give you and your family justice and peace of mind going forward.

Drowning Deaths in Puget Sound Often the Result of Negligence

Posted Friday, September 11, 2020 by Chris Thayer

Alternative TextAccording to a 2017 Seattle Times report, Washington averages around 100 drowning deaths a year. That is a statewide number. In 2016, the number bumped all the way to 180, with many of the victims being strong swimmers and avid boaters. So, what causes drowning deaths in Mercer Island and the greater Puget Sound area? Sometimes, it is actually negligence. While not all injuries and drowning deaths are the result of someone else’s carelessness, it is usually worth speaking to an experienced Seattle injury lawyer as soon as possible to find out your options.

**Types of Drownings and Water Injuries in Puget Sound

**There are a lot of ways to get hurt when engaging in recreational activities in Puget Sound. The water often remains just above freezing for most of the year. In fact, as reported by the Seattle Times, one Sheriff explained that the water simply does not get much warmer in the summer. People, especially tourists, often disregard or underestimate the dangers of icy cold waterways. Here are a few ways people can run into problems on the water.

  • Boat capsize – You cannot stay awake and tread water for long if you go into hypothermia.
  • Head injuries – Like any water injury, if you are thrown from a vessel and strike your head, you cannot swim to safety.
  • Poor planning – People often love the idea of a relaxing kayak trip on the Sound, until they are caught in freezing rain or the temperature drops rapidly. This can lead a person to be stranded without the proper gear on open waters.

*The Role Companies and Others May Play in Injuries* It may be odd to think of suffering an injury on the water and blaming it on someone else. However, there are distinct situations in which someone else’s careless or even greedy actions can lead to tragic consequences. Consider these examples.

  • A kayak rental shop sends someone out on the water in a defective kayak or one with a crack in the hull or even an active leak.
  • A child’s life vest is unserviceable, meaning it does not keep the child above water in the event of being knocked unconscious.
  • A drunk boater strikes a paddle boarded or kayaker, causing a capsize.
  • A Jet ski owner allows an intoxicated person to operate it.

In each of the above hypotheticals, you can easily see where someone has acted carelessly and put someone else’s life in danger. When things like this happen, serious or fatal injuries can and do occur. You can usually bet that an insurance company will refuse to pay on these types of claims. You will need to have an aggressive and knowledgeable team of injury attorneys on your side just to stand up to the insurance company. Whether it is a drowning or serious injury, if you or someone close to you has been hurt on the water in the Seattle, Mercer Island, or greater Puget Sound area, you need to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer right away. Call the Pivotal Law Group today for a free conversation about your rights. But act fast, there are statutory time limits on pursuing justice. If you wait too long, you could forever lose your rights.