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.

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Outlining a Slip-and-Fall Claim in Bellevue

Posted Friday, December 23, 2022 by Chris Thayer

Government healthcare programs, mostly Medicare and Medicaid, cover most of the $50 billion annual cost of fall injury-related medical bills. In other words, taxpayers cover most fall injury-related medical bills. Most government healthcare programs treat falls like all other medical conditions. The program pays the bills, usually without asking any questions. Therefore, many of these victims do not file legal claims.

That lack of effort is a mistake, not only because victims are not compensated for their noneconomic losses but also because this inaction forces taxpayers to pay for property owner negligence. Fundamentally, a Bellevue personal injury attorney does not file a legal claim to get money. Instead, a lawyer files a legal claim to force tortfeasors (negligent actors) to accept responsibility for their mistakes. That is why an attorney tries so hard to settle claims before filing a legal action. If the insurance company does the right thing, there is no need to take that extra step.

*Starting a Case*To build a solid damages claim, a Bellevue personal injury attorney must establish a prima facie (basic) case and anticipate some common insurance company defenses.

A negligence claim begins with a legal duty. In Washington, the owner’s legal duty varies, mostly according to the owner’s relationship with the victim:

These cases are more complex if a victim starts in one category and ends in another. For example, Jim the Rapscallion is an invitee at Best Buy when he walks in the door. He becomes a trespasser if he shoplifts an item.

Additionally, a Bellevue personal injury attorney must prove, by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not), that the owner knew, or should have known, about the injury-causing hazard.

Finally, the victim must prove the owner’s negligence caused the fall. Washington has a broad res ipsa loquitur (the thing speaks for itself) rule. Jurors may usually presume owner negligence caused a fall, even if no one saw the incident.

*Anticipating Defenses*Comparative fault and assumption of the risk are the two most common slip-and-fall defenses in Washington. In most cases, these two defenses work the same way.

Essentially, contributory negligence shifts blame for an accident from the tortfeasor to the victim. Many fall injury victims are careless about where they walk. If that’s true, jurors must evaluate the evidence and divide responsibility 50-50, 80-20, or on another percentage basis.

Washington is a pure comparative fault state. Even if the victim is 99% responsible for the fall, the tortfeasor must still pay a proportionate share of damages.

Usually, assumption of the risk, a defense that may involve a “Caution Wet Floor” or other warning sign, works the same way. However, if the assumption of the risk is contractual, usually in a written waiver, assumption of the risk may be a complete defense. Usually, however, these waivers are not enforceable contracts.

*Reach Out to a Thorough King County Attorney* Injury victims are entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Bellevue, contact Pivotal Law Group, PLLC. Attorneys can connect victims with doctors, even if they have no insurance or money.