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

Four Questions You Must Ask Your Personal Injury Attorney

Posted Thursday, October 4, 2018 by Chris Thayer

Alternative TextHiring an attorney is a big deal. You are entrusting another individual, or individuals, with seeking compensation for your injuries that have been caused by the negligence or wrongful act of another. This is not to be taken lightly. The attorney you hire should be someone with whom you are comfortable and whom you think of as a trusted advisor. Therefore, it is essential that in the initial consultation with an attorney, you ask him or her a lot of questions. An attorney will ask you questions about your case to determine a good fit, but you also should be asking questions to your attorney, such as:

*What is your experience in personal injury?* The experience that an attorney has in the area of personal injury can be a good indicator that the case has the potential for success. An experienced attorney has the confidence, knowledge, and skills to push your case forward and hopefully achieve the desired results. Although, it is important to keep in mind that regardless of the amount of experience an attorney has, there is no way to guarantee an outcome in a personal injury suit.

*How much time will you be able to devote to my case?* It is not often that you will find an attorney who is only working on one case. It is expected that attorneys are handling multiple cases at once, but you need to be sure that the attorney you hire has the necessary time to dedicate to your case. Be sure to ask about other attorneys and support staff that will be used to move your case forward. If the lead attorney is very busy, you want to be sure that other staff members will be available to make sure your case is given the attention it needs.

*How many personal injury cases have you taken to trial?* We live in a litigious society, but that does not mean that every lawsuit goes to trial. The majority of lawsuits all across America are settled before they reach the inside of a courtroom. As such, not every attorney has taken a personal injury suit all the way to trial. You want to ask about their trial experience and skills so that you can be confident that they will be able to represent you fully should the case go to trial.

*What is the representation fee?* Most personal injury suits do not involve an hourly fee that is paid to the attorney on a regular basis. The attorney and client instead enter into a contingency fee agreement. With this agreement, the attorney and client agree that the attorney will take a certain percentage of the award that is given in the case. The client is generally not responsible for any fees at the outset of the relationship. It is important to establish this agreement and know exactly what each side’s responsibilities are.

If you are seeking a personal injury attorney, the Pivotal Law Group is here for you. We know that both the attorney and the client need to feel comfortable and confident with the relationship. We are prepared to answer all of your questions and fight to get you the best award possible under the circumstances. Contact us today for a free consultation.

(image courtesy of Joe Perales)

Suing for Medical Negligence

Posted Friday, September 28, 2018 by Chris Thayer

Alternative TextA couple recently filed a lawsuit against the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle after it lost frozen embryos from more than 31 patients. The 2014 incident was only recently made public when the lawsuit was filed, but the director of strategic communications for UW Medical Center has confirmed that it happened.

According to the lawsuit, the couple had a written agreement with UWMC that required them to remain in contact with the IVF program for three years. Otherwise, the couple would relinquish control of their frozen embryos. The lawsuit claims that the female patient contacted UWMC in 2012.

In 2014, “without notice and/or warning, UWMC discarded and/or destroyed (the patients’) cyropreserved embryos,” the couple argued in the lawsuit. They are claiming medical negligence, negligence, and breach of contract.

*Filing a Medical Negligence Claim in Washington*This is not your typical medical malpractice case. When someone alleges medical malpractice it is because the doctor made a mistake during surgery, or misdiagnosed the patient, or something along those lines. Most cases involve physical injury to the patient.

Here, the couple is claiming medical negligence. Their injury did not happen because a doctor erred during treatment, but because the hospital (for whatever reason) did not uphold its end of an agreement. To win any kind of negligence claim, you must prove that:

  • The defendant owed you a duty of care
  • The defendant breached that duty of care
  • You were injured, and
  • The injury happened because of the defendant’s breach of care.

In this case, UMWC allegedly had a duty to preserve the frozen embryos for three years, as long as the couple stayed in contact. They said they did so. If so, discarding the embryos was a breach of that duty.

The emotional damage caused by losing their embryos is a cognizable injury under Washington law. That damage was clearly caused by UWMC destroying the embryos. The couple wants to make UWMC puts safeguards in place to make sure this does not happen to other families.

*Statute of Limitations and Comparative Fault*The statute of limitations, or deadline, for filing a personal injury lawsuit in Washington is three years from the date of the injury. While there are some exceptions to this rule, generally you will lose the right to seek compensation if you meet this deadline.

Washington is also a comparative fault state. This means the law takes it into account when injured plaintiffs contribute to their own injuries. This usually comes into play in car accidents when maybe the plaintiff was also acting negligently. Courts reduce the amount of damages plaintiffs receive by their percentage of fault. However, it is more difficult to imagine a scenario in which comparative negligence would apply to the frozen embryo case.

*Contact Us Today*Contact one of our experienced personal injury attorneys for a free consultation if you are injured by medical negligence. We will examine the facts of your case and help recover the compensation that you deserve, including pain and suffering.

(image courtesy of Drew Hays)

What Arguments Might be Used Against You in a Slip-and-Fall Lawsuit?

Posted Friday, September 21, 2018 by Chris Thayer

Alternative TextIf you have ever walked into a restaurant or retail store and seen a bright yellow “Caution” sign alerting you that the floor is wet, then you probably understand the liabilities that business owners face when customers slip and fall. Unfortunately, not all property owners or managers do enough to protect visitors from unknown substances that can cause them to slip and fall. But even if you have a viable personal injury claim, the defendant will do everything possible to avoid responsibility.

*Common Defenses Used Against Slip-and-Fall Plaintiffs*Here are a few common defenses used to defeat a slip-and-fall claim:

  • The slippery condition was obvious. For example, it should be an obvious hazard if someone spilled a bright red smoothie on a white floor. If the substance is clear or matches the floor color, then it is not nearly as obvious.
  • The dangerous area was blocked off by cones and signs.
  • The plaintiff did not watch where he or she was going.
  • The plaintiff was wearing extremely high heels or other hazardous footwear.

These are not the only defenses that may be used against you. An experienced attorney can craft an effective litigation strategy on your behalf and prepare for any defenses that might come up.

*Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit in Washington*The deadline for filing a slip-and-fall injury claim in Washington is three years from the date of the accident. You may lose your right to compensation if you do not file the claim during this three-year period.

Washington is also a comparative fault state. Any damages awarded to you will be reduced by your own percentage of fault. So, if you were not watching where you were going before you slipped and fell, then you might receive less in damages. (However, Washington does not place a cap on the amount of damages you can receive.)

Common Slip-and-Fall Hazards

Business owners are responsible for maintaining their premises in a safe condition for customers. Even if they are liable when customers slip and fall because of an unsafe condition, it is always better to avoid injuries when possible. Watch out for these hidden (and unhidden) dangers:

  • A freshly mopped floor
  • An elevation change (like if there is a step down from the landing to the main floor)
  • Spilled food and beverages
  • Overflowing sinks and/or toilets in the bathroom (or just regular water spills),uneven surfaces in outdoor seating areas, like gravel or mulch, and
  • Hazardous weather conditions like snow, ice, or rain that can make outdoor areas slick (water can also be tracked inside, especially when umbrellas are involved).

A crowded store can magnify these and other hazards worse, potentially making it harder for consumers to avoid or see a slippery or uneven surface.

Contact Us Today

Contact one of our experienced personal injury attorneys for a free consultation if you were injured in a slip-and-fall accident. We will examine the facts of your case and help recover the compensation that you deserve, including medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

(image courtesy of Oliwier Gesla)

Defenses to a Premises Liability Lawsuit

Posted Friday, September 14, 2018 by Chris Thayer

Alternative TextUnder Washington law, property owners are responsible for maintaining their premises in a safe condition and warning visitors of hidden hazards. If you are injured while visiting someone’s home or business, the owner might be liable for your medical bills, lost wages, and other related expenses. There are certain defenses that property owners can use to avoid liability.

*Who can Bring a Premises Liability Claim?*Whether the owner is responsible depends on whether he or she owed you a duty of care. The standard of care depends on whether you are an invitee, social guest, licensee, or trespasser:

  • If you are an invitee, that means you were invited onto someone’s property. Property owners have a duty to exercise ordinary care in maintaining safe conditions where invitees are invited or reasonably expected to go.
  • If you enter someone’s property with the owner’s permission for your own business purposes, then you are a licensee. For example, homeowners generally “allow” people, including salespeople, to come knock on their front door. The property owner is only responsible for fixing unsafe conditions that he is or should be aware of, or to at least post a warning.
  • If you enter the property with the owner’s permission for non-business purposes, then you are a social guest (like if you randomly stop by to see if your friend is home). The owner owes the same duty of care to social guests as to licensees.
  • If you go onto someone’s property without permission, that means you are trespassing and you are proceeding at your own risk. Property owners do not owe you any particular duty of care other than not deliberately injuring you.

*Common Defenses Used to Defeat a Premises Liability Claim*One common defense used against premises liability plaintiffs is that the injury happened because of an open and obvious danger. For example, a staircase – with no extenuating circumstances like a spilled substance or rotten floorboard – is an obvious danger. If you trip on the stairs then you probably can not sue the property owner.

Another common defense is that the plaintiff assumed the risk. Generally, “assumption of risk” means that when someone voluntarily enters onto property with known, inherent risks, that person cannot sue for injuries unless the injuries were actually caused by negligence. For example, if you visit a campground knowing that bears sometimes wander through the campsites – and there are signs warning you about bears – then you have assumed the risks that the bears pose.

Washington is also a comparative fault state, meaning that damages are reduced by the victim’s own percentage of fault. So, even if the property owner was negligent, you are not entitled to compensation for your role in the injury.

*Contact Us Today*If you are injured at someone’s home or business, you might have a premises liability claim. Contact one of our personal injury attorneys today for a free consultation. We will craft an effective litigation strategy against any defenses that might be used against you and help recover the compensation that you deserve.

(image courtesy of Luca Bravo)

The Sudden Emergency Doctrine

Posted Friday, September 7, 2018 by Chris Thayer

Alternative TextSome accidents are caused by negligence, but other accidents are out of our control, happening because of our response to sudden emergencies. Or at least that is what a personal injury defendant might argue when the injured plaintiff files a lawsuit against him or her. Conversely, the injured plaintiff can invoke the sudden emergency doctrine to argue that he or she is not partially at fault for his or her own injuries.

There is a legal principle called the sudden emergency doctrine that says people are not liable when their otherwise negligent actions stemmed from an emergency situation. This is an important doctrine for plaintiffs to understand, since it might prevent them from recovering damages or ensure they recover full compensation for their injuries.

*What is the Sudden Emergency Doctrine?*According to the Washington State Supreme Court Committee on Jury Instructions:

“A person who is suddenly confronted by an emergency through no negligence of his or her own and who is compelled to decide instantly how to avoid injury and who makes such a choice as a reasonably careful person placed in such a position might make, is not negligent even though it is not the wisest choice.”

For example, imagine that a car passenger suddenly has a heart attack. The driver speeds through a light just as it is turning red, in an attempt to get to the emergency room faster. The driver slams into a vehicle that has just legally entered the intersection. A jury could conclude that the driver’s decision to run the light was reasonable given the emergency situation.

*Other Examples of Sudden Emergencies*In the 1970s, a motorcyclist and school bus collided on a curvy, hilly road. The motorcyclist filed a personal injury lawsuit claiming that the bus driver was responsible for his injuries. The motorcyclist lost at trial, but on appeal, the court said that the sudden emergency doctrine may apply. Specifically, the jury should have considered whether the bus illegally crossed into the oncoming lane, causing the motorcyclist to swerve and crash into the bus. Swerving to avoid a vehicle that has drifted into your lane is an example of a sudden emergency.

In 2009, the Washington Supreme Court considered the application of the sudden emergency doctrine to an accident involving a motorcycle and a deer. To make a long story short, the motorcycle driver could not avoid crashing into a deer that suddenly ran into the road. The motorcycle’s passenger was injured and sued the driver for injuries. The court agreed that there was sufficient evidence for the jury to consider this a sudden emergency.

While many sudden emergencies arrive in the context of car accidents, there are other situations where this doctrine comes up. An experienced attorney can help prepare an effective litigation strategy if a sudden emergency is a factor in your case.

*Contact Us Today*Contact one of our personal injury attorneys today for a free consultation if you are injured by someone’s negligent conduct. Our experienced attorneys will prepare for any defenses that might be used against you, including the sudden emergency doctrine. We will help recover the compensation that you deserve, including medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

(image courtesy of Deva Darshan)