“I will not take or knowingly administer any harmful drug.”

This is a line in the Nightingale Pledge—a statement of the ethics and principles of the nursing profession, written in honor of one of the world’s most famous nurses. Many nursing institutions recite updated versions of the pledge at graduation ceremonies. While this statement may seem like a given to any competent medical professional, or, really, to all of us, it’s not always obeyed.

If you’ve been following local and national news, you may have heard of the recent possible hepatitis C outbreak here in the South Sound. To us at Evergreen Personal Injury Counsel, this is more than just a shocking new story. My team and I are representing one of the victims in this case.

Medical stethoscope instrument

What You Need to Know About the Case

Cora Weberg, a nurse who worked at Puyallup’s Good Samaritan Hospital, is linked to the possible outbreak of hepatitis C. Authorities allege that Weberg siphoned off injectable fentanyl and hydromorphone that were meant for her patients. They claim that she first used the needle to inject herself with the drugs, then used the same needle to inject the rest of the medication into patients.

At least two people have been infected with hepatitis C as a result. Hospital records show that they were both previously treated by Weberg. In response to these allegations, Good Samaritan Hospital is currently testing thousands of former patients. Patients who received injections while Weberg was on duty between August 4, 2017 and March 23, 2018 are being tested.

Weberg was arrested on May 3 and released the following day. No charges have been filed as of yet, but police are continuing their investigation. Weberg’s nursing license has been suspended by the state. In a formal press conference, she claimed she did not intentionally infect the two patients with hepatitis C. However, Weberg did admit to diverting medication from the hospital for her personal use.

How This Case Relates to the Opiate Crisis

This case is a prime example of how opioid addiction not only affects the addict, but the lives of the people they come into contact with. We have seen countless lives destroyed by the opioid epidemic plaguing the state of Washington and our communities nationwide.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee wants to declare opioid use a public health crisis, requiring state agencies to expand access to addiction treatment. While this is a step in the right direction, more needs to be done to help end the cycle of addiction. There’s an old saying that goes: “It takes a village to raise a child.” I firmly believe that it will take everyone in our community—not just the governor and state agencies—to come together to fight this devastating epidemic.

The topic of the Washington opioid epidemic has been frequently on my mind, especially as it relates to injury law. You can read my thoughts on it here.  

Schedule a Consultation with Your Tacoma Injury Law Firm

While further testing is still underway, there could be many more potential victims due to the alleged actions of Weberg and the negligence of the Good Samaritan Hospital.

If you or a loved one may have contracted hepatitis C related to this case, or if you think you’ve been the victim of medical negligence, schedule an appointment or give my team a call at 253-472-6000. At Evergreen Personal Injury Counsel, our decades of experience will serve to help you seek the justice that you deserve.

Let’s talk about a difficult but topical subject in today’s society: the opioid epidemic. The misuse and addiction to opioids—such as prescription pain relievers, heroin and synthetic opioids is everywhere. It affects countless victims and families throughout the state of Washington and across the nation. With the increase of opioid abuse, comes the rise of opioid-related auto accidents as a consequence.

In 2016, Washington Governor Jay Inslee released an executive order that mandates law enforcement and community partners come up and implement strategies that reduces the supply of illegal opioids. While this is a positive step to address the opioid epidemic, the order doesn’t help to prevent drugged driving in Washington.Spilled pill bottle of opioids

Dangers of Opiates: Understanding National Statistics

On a national level, statistics show that drivers killed in crashes are more likely to be on drugs than drunk. According to a 2015 report by the Governors Highway Safety Association and the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, 43 percent of drivers had used legal or illegal drugs in fatal crashes, compared to 37 percent of drunk drivers.

Opiates are highly addictive and can stay in the bloodstream for hours after ingestion. In turn, it can negatively affect motor skills and reaction times when behind the wheel of a car.

Driving Under the Influence of Opioids

When people hear the word “DUI”, many people often think of driving under the influence of alcohol. However, even prescribed opioid medications, such as Vicodin and Hydrocodone can slow reaction times, increase drowsiness, and impair motor skills when operating a motor vehicle.

It can be challenging for police and investigators to prove that a driver was under the influence of prescription opiates at the time of an accident. If a blood test is not administered within a few hours, the opiates will likely be out of their system.

What’s Being Done to Address the Crisis?

State politicians and prosecuting attorneys are working to address the ongoing opioid crisis in Washington. Attorney General Bob Ferguson recently filed a lawsuit against the largest opioid manufacturer Purdue Pharma. It alleges they deceived and mislead doctors that their product was safe for treatment of long-term chronic pain. Prosecutor Mark Lindquist from Pierce County filed a similar lawsuit against Purdue Pharma. The suit alleges they maliciously contributed to the opioid crisis in Washington.

Earlier this week, Purdue Pharma announced that it will no longer aggressively market its drugs, such as OxyContin, to doctors and is laying off half its sales force. This is likely the direct response from the hundreds of civil lawsuits, including the ones filed by Ferguson and Lindquist.

Walmart, Sam’s Club, and other pharmacies are now giving out free “DisposeRx” chemical packets to anyone who request them. If you have leftover opioids from a medical prescription, the packets will allow you to dissolve and render the pain pills into a harmless substance that can safely be disposed of.

Opiate-Related Auto Accidents in Seattle & Tacoma

The opioid epidemic is a complex and ever-growing public health crisis in Washington and throughout the United States. The devastating consequences not only affects those addicted and their families, it can affect innocent people. This includes motorists and passengers on the road who are the victims of opioid-related accidents.

Contact me if you’ve been auto accident and suspect the other driver was under the influence of opiates. My team and I at Evergreen Personal Injury Counsel can help assist you in your quest for justice and to be made whole again.

Impaired driving under the influence of alcohol, marijuana or a combination of the two can lead to serious injury or loss of life. Washington State takes impaired driving very seriously and has proactively created laws to help mitigate it.

The state of Washington has created several programs and measures to help prevent impaired driving, including:

  • High-visibility patrols
  • Expanded DUI patrols
  • Community-based law enforcement
  • DUI enforcement training

However, lawmakers in Washington have come to realize that penalizing DUI offenders is not enough. Drug and alcohol education courses help curb first-time and repeat offenders. The end goal is to reduce the amount of fatal accidents and injuries from driving under the influence.Driving under the influence of alcohol and cannabis

Driving While Impaired by Alcohol

Driving under the influence of alcohol is widely understood as an illegal and unwise thing to do. Teens are often educated in school or driver’s education classes on the serious consequences of driving drunk.

The CDC reports that 1,921 people were killed by a drunk driver in the state of Washington from 2003 – 2012.  In the same survey, 2.1 percent of drivers reported that they tend to drive after drinking too much. The national average is only 1.9 percent.

Washington State is one of the more progressive states when it comes to enforcing DUI laws and educating convicted offenders. Recently, citations, arrests and accidents due to driving under the influence of alcohol have been surpassed by another legal drug of choice: marijuana.

Driving While Impaired on Marijuana

In 2012, Washington voters legalized Initiative 502 which allowed for adults over the age of 21 to purchase and possess certain amounts of marijuana and marijuana infused products. As one would expect, the legalization of marijuana has increased the number of arrests, citations and convictions from driving under the influence.

Drivers who combine marijuana and alcohol are at an increased risk for accidents. The study reported that these drivers were frequently found driving without a license, driving without a seatbelt or speeding. According to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, marijuana continues to be the most frequently-occurring drug, not including alcohol, among drivers involved in fatal crashes.

Many marijuana users fail to realize that driving under the influence affects their ability to operate a vehicle. Reaction times, attentiveness, time and speed perception are all affected when driving high. A recent study reported that: “…marijuana causes impairment in every performance area that can reasonably be connected with safe driving of a vehicle, such as tracking, motor coordination, visual functions, and particularly complex tasks that require divided attention…”

The Revised Code of Washington (RCW 46.61.502) states that driving under the influence of marijuana occurs when: “(b) The person has, within two hours after driving, a THC concentration of 5.00 or higher as shown by analysis of the person’s blood made under RCW 46.61.506.”

Your Washington State Injury Attorney

While marijuana is legal in the state of Washington, driving under the influence of it is not. It can lower reaction times and attentiveness while on the road. It also reduces the motor skills required to safely operate a moving vehicle. Many chronic users often don’t realize that they are driving impaired due to high tolerance levels and the potent products sold in the dispensaries.

If you have been involved in an accident where the other driver was impaired from alcohol, marijuana or the combination of both, contact my team and I at Evergreen Personal Injury Counsel. As a Washington personal injury firm, we help clients seek the justice they deserve in the event of an accident or injury.

As we’ll be entering into the start of the holiday season in the coming months, many bars, restaurants and venues will be serving alcohol. While many patrons will rely on safe transportation to get home, such as having a designated driver or ride sharing, drunk drivers are out there. According to the Center for Disease Control, about one in three traffic deaths in the United States involve a drunk driver.

Every so often, an establishment will over-serve an already intoxicated individual. As a result, this person can cause severe harm to themselves and other motorists on the road.

Fortunately, the state of Washington has a set of laws designed to help cut down on drunk driving accidents. It also helps financially compensate those who have been injured by drunk drivers who have been over-served by the establishment. This is known as dram shop laws.Washington Dram Shop Liability

What is Dram Shop Liability in Washington?

Dram shop laws are a set of laws that permit accident victims to get financial restitution from establishments, such as bars or restaurants, in situations where they negligently over-serve alcohol to a drunk driver.

The word “dram shop” is an older legal term that refers to a bar or shop where alcoholic beverages where once sold by the dram (which is a unit of liquid). Dram shop laws are aimed at reducing drunk driving crashes by putting the onus for safety upon the establishment that serves alcohol. Currently, 38 states in the United States have some form of dram shop laws set in place.

Example of a Dram Shop-Related Accident Case

Let’s pretend Suzie goes to Mike’s Saloon to have a few drinks. After a few hours, Suzie begins to slur her speech, acts and appears visibly drunk. The bartender continues to serve Suzie, despite the obvious signs of her being intoxicated.

Suzie then pays her tab and leaves Mike’s Saloon. She gets into her car and attempts to drive home. A few minutes later she runs over Karen, who is a pedestrian crossing the street. Karen is injured in the accident. She can file a claim against Suzie for causing the accident.

Karen can also file a dram shop claim against Mike’s Saloon because the behavior of Suzie showed that she was clearly intoxicated and Washington State Law (RCW 66.44.200) states: “No person shall sell any liquor to any person apparently under the influence of liquor.”

Categories in Alcohol Over-Service Cases in Washington

There are three broad categories in alcohol over-service cases:

Commercial purveyor: The commercial purveyor is a restaurant, convenience store or bar. They are prohibited from selling or serving alcohol to anyone who is “apparently intoxicated.” They will be held liable regardless of whether they serve a minor or an adult.

Social host (minors): A social host is a private citizen who serves alcohol at their home. If the social hosts serves a minor and the minor causes an auto accident, the social host can be held liable to the minor and/or their victims.

Social host (adults): If the social host serves an adult at their home, they can’t be liable if the adult gets injured or causes a collision.

Washington Dram Shop Liability Accidents Attorneys

In the state of Washington, the plaintiff must prove that the establishment or bartender can be held liable under the dram shop laws. The plaintiff must prove that there were visible signs of intoxication such as: slurred speech, water eyes, emotional behavior or difficulty walking. They must also prove that despite these warning signs, the establishment continued to serve alcohol to the intoxicated individual.

Collection of this kind of evidence can sometimes be challenging. A police report showing the blood alcohol levels of the driver will certainly help. If the establishment has cameras, videos can potentially be subpoenaed as evidence. We may find witnesses or other patrons of the establishment bar who would be willing to testify.

If you suspect that your Washington auto accident arose from dram shop liability, contact my team and I at Tacoma’s Evergreen Personal Injury Counsel. I have experience helping those who have been injured as a result of intentional alcohol over-serving. EPIC will fight hard for you so that you can get the justice that you deserve for your injuries. Don’t hesitate to contact me if you have additional questions regarding dram shop accidents.

With the warm weather months almost upon us, many people will be relaxing in and around swimming pools to escape the summer heat. While the most of us will have a safe and fun time, statistics tell us that there will inevitably be an accident or two. According to the CDC, around ten people per day die from unintentional drowning. Out of these ten people, two are children aged 14 years or younger.

Despite the warning signs and a healthy dose of common sense, people still get injured and sometimes even die in swimming pool accidents in Washington State. Why is this?

Boy holding his breath in a swimming pool

There are several factors that come into play in a swimming pool accidents. Many swimming pool fatalities or injuries can often be attributed to:

Aside from slips and falls, the most lethal danger that swimming pools pose is drowning. Believe it or not most drownings occur in front a people who don’t know the person is actually drowning. Lifeguards and other rescue professionals have reported that when someone is drowning, they usually don’t make the “Help, I’m drowning!” motions and audible cues. When faced with a drowning situation, the human body is too preoccupied with attempting to stay afloat and receive the air it needs to breathe. As such, a drowning person may look like they are calmly treading water.

Following a Washington Swimming Pool Accident

If you or someone you know is involved in a swimming pool accident, the first thing you want to do is call “911” or otherwise alert an emergency professional. Staying calm and not letting your emotions get the better of you is highly recommended. This calm mindset will allow you to think clearly, rationally as well as make intelligent decisions.

After emergency help is on the way (or has already arrived) you should then turn your thoughts to the scene of the accident.

Document Injuries and Events

The scene of a pool accident may be chaotic and emotional. Try your best to use your cell phone to take pictures of the general area where the accident occurred. Are there any obvious signs of structural damage to the swimming pool area? If so, take a picture. Be sure to take photos from multiple angles, if possible.

If you can, try to document conversations that you overhear. Witnesses, police, emergency first responders as well as the doctors in the hospital can help piece together the events at a later date.

Preserve The Evidence

You should also try to preserve any evidence that could be relevant to an investigation. If you took pictures on your cell phone, try to make a backup copy of them on your home computer on the off chance something happens to your phone.

The same goes for any documents, reports or paperwork that may have been given to you. Grab any police reports as well as hospital records from the emergency room. In short, gather as much evidence as possible. Even if you think something is not relevant, document it regardless. It may prove to be a very valuable piece of evidence at a later date.

Make Sure Your Tacoma Personal Injury Attorney is Present

If an insurance company representative contacts you at the hospital or at your home, politely refuse to answer any questions. Let them know that you need to speak to your attorney first. Any statements you give to the insurance company representative (even “off the cuff” remarks) can be used against you or a loved one in a claim.

Contact a Qualified Washington Injury Attorney

At Evergreen Personal Injury Counsel, we have exclusively limited our practice to personal injury claims and helping families with serious and traumatic injuries or fatalities.

My team and I have both the experience and the expertise to help you navigate through a complex swimming pool injury case. We help many people and families who have been injured or have died in swimming pool accidents throughout the State of Washington. Give us a call today for a free consultation to see how we can help you.

When a driver chooses to hit the road while under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI/DWI), they are endangering the lives of themselves, their passengers and other motorists on the road. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in three traffic deaths in the United States involve a drunk driver.

Drinking and driving DUI laws in Washington

Alcohol, illegal drugs and prescription medications can interfere with a driver’s coordination and judgment. If a driver is intoxicated and operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level over the legal limit, this can be used to help establish liability following an automobile accident.

In the United States, you are considered to be driving under the influence with a BAC of .08% for adults aged 21 and over. For people under the age of 21, zero tolerance laws make it illegal to drive with any measurable amount of alcohol in their system. Specific laws and penalties related to DUI vary from state to state.

Understanding Washington DUI Laws

Washington has unique DUI laws that are important to understand for every driver. There is an increased penalty for a BAC of .15 or higher. In the state of Washington, sobriety checkpoints are not conducted. Sobriety checkpoints or DUI roadblocks are random, designated locations where law enforcement officers stationed to check drivers for signs of intoxication and impairment.

Washington is one of the few states where marijuana is legal for medical and recreational purposes. If a driver has a blood THC level of 5 nanograms with two hours of driving, the driver is considered to be driving under the influence in our state.

What Happens Next if I was Injured in a DUI Accident?

Drunk or impaired driving accidents can cause great emotional distress for the victims and their families. Drunk or impaired driving accidents can leave victims seriously injured, permanently disabled, or even dead depending on the severity of the collision. When the medical expenses, repair bills and lost wages add up, they can also become extremely costly for the victim involved.

If you suspect the at-fault driver was under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs in your automobile accident in Washington, it’s imperative to take swift action in order to preserve relevant evidence in your case. In certain circumstances, you may also have the ability to make a claim against an establishment (bar, restaurant, club, or private events) who served alcoholic beverages to the drunk driver, if it can be established that the drunk driver was over-served. This is known as a dram shop claim.

If you are a victim of another driver’s reckless behavior on the road, contact my team and I at Tacoma’s Evergreen Personal Injury Counsel. Hiring an experienced attorney who understands the complexity and depth of personal injury law can help ensure that you get the compensation you deserve for your injuries.

Person holding iPhone in the woods

For many Americans, social media is a ubiquitous part of our lives. Pew Research Center found that nearly 75% of adults use social media networking websites or apps. While young adults aged 18-29 are the demographic most likely to use social media, Pew estimates that 46% of people aged 65 or older use social media, compared to just 2% in 2005.

From talking to friends to posting photos of our lunch, we use social media to both interact with others and chronicle events in our daily lives. Social media websites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram give us the opportunity to broadcast our thoughts and actions with a touch of a button. In this regard, social media can have a significant impact on your Tacoma personal injury case. Social media content or activity is generally seen as admissible evidence in the courts if it is relevant and authentic.

At Evergreen Personal Injury Counsel, my colleagues and I instruct our clients to refrain from posting online about their case or injuries. If your social media activity gives any reason for an insurance company, opposing counsel, or judge to question the legitimacy of your claim, you run the risk of not receiving compensation for your injuries or losses. However, if the client has already posted information about the case, the ethical rules prohibit us from advising them to delete or edit the evidence. The courts view such actions as destroying evidence and it could potentially have a negative impact on your case.

I’m not suggesting you avoid social media altogether – just be cautious of what you choose to publish on the World Wide Web. Whether its status updates, Tweets, photos, blog posts, or even location check-ins, assume that everything shared on the Internet is public and can be used as evidence against you.

If you’re undergoing a personal injury case, be sure to tighten up the security and privacy settings on your social media profiles. It’s also important to make sure your settings require your approval for other users to post information or pictures on your account or in tagged photos. Lastly, if you have any concerns about your past or current social media activity, be sure to discuss it your Tacoma personal injury attorney.

My final takeaway? Think before you post. If you have any concerns about your past or current social media activity, be sure to discuss it with your Tacoma personal injury attorney. Don’t hesitate to schedule a complimentary consultation with Evergreen Personal Injury Counsel to give you guidance on your legal options.

Rainy weather in a car

There’s a running joke around the region that Pacific Northwest motorists don’t know how to drive in the rain. While I’m not here to debate the validity in that sentiment, there’s no denying that wet weather can play a huge part in automotive crashes. While most Washington drivers understand to use caution with snowy or icy weather conditions, fewer drivers understand that rain can be just as dangerous.

According to the US Department of Transportation, an estimated 22% of all automotive crashes in the United States are weather-related. Approximately 6,000 people are killed and over 445,000 people are injured in weather-related crashes every year. Crash data shows that the majority of weather-related crashes happen on wet pavement or during rainfall.

What’s so difficult about driving in rain anyway?

Rain can lead to hazardous driving conditions for a number of reasons. When mixed with accumulated oil, engine fluids, and debris, rain can create slippery road surfaces. The mixture builds up at intersections, where cars start and stop frequently. Heavy rain can also impair visibility, preventing drivers from seeing headlights, other vehicles, or standing water in the roadways. When winter comes around, there’s an added risk of freezing rain on the roadways. Ice and driving don’t mix, as the roads become essentially a skating rink.

Here are a few wet weather driving tips to keep in mind while you’re on the road:

Prepare your vehicle: You should replace your windshield wiper about once a year on average, and the ideal time to do that is just before the rainy season. If they are leaving streaks on your windshield, replace your wipers to be able to maintain a safe field of vision. Be sure to check your tires often for wear and tear. As soon as they start to bald, replace them to maximize the amount of grip you get on the road.

Review your driving:  Never tailgate during a rainstorm, leave at least five seconds of following distance between you and the car ahead of you. Plan to drive at a slower pace when roads are wet. The speed limit is based on ideal driving conditions, so you are responsible for adjusting your speed appropriately. Be cautious when passing cars or entering an intersection, and avoid driving through pooled or standing water to prevent hydroplaning.

As we’re heading into the rainy season here in Tacoma and Seattle, I urged you to be prepared and drive safe. No matter how careful of a driver you may be, auto accidents can happen to anyone. Rain, snow, sleet, or fog – driving in any type of severe weather can significantly increase your risk of getting into a dangerous situation for you, your family, and other drivers.

If you find yourself in a weather-related car crash this fall or winter, contact your Tacoma auto accident attorneys at Evergreen Personal Injury Counsel. My team and I have experience dealing with a variety of auto accident personal injury cases, ranging from motorcycles, bicycles, commercial trucking vehicles, and also vehicles hitting pedestrians.

It’s all about the journey.

When we sought out our new location, we knew it was a diamond in the rough. Most passersby wouldn’t have given it a second glance in the shape it was in. But my colleagues and I saw something bigger, we saw the surrounding community that would call us neighbor. We saw the history and future of a Tacoma landmark. We saw the building our business family could call home.

Evergreen Personal Injury Counsel attorney John Christensen

I saw myself, all those years ago, struggling in the first stages of Taekwondo. A vessel for potential desperately in need of direction and discipline. At any starting line, the end goal seems infinitely far away. The key is to keep moving forward. Belt-by-belt I built my strength and stamina to the place I aspired to, and just like that, piece-by-piece our new office came together to be something award worthy. But we needed the move. We needed more than a building. We needed a community. I believe in the power of the human spirit and the way it brings life to the body, or a building, or a cityscape. I see it transcend as I cheer for my favorite college football team (Go Huskies!). I see it now, from my new “fishbowl” of an office, where I’m able to watch the flow of traffic in our vibrant downtown where Evergreen Personal Injury Counsel now operate.

Tacoma likes to move and I feel connected to that mentality as you roll by on a bicycle, jog to your favorite lookouts, head out to kayak or rock climb or site see on foot. I imagine how this window scene has evolved over the last 108-years and I picture myself on that timeline. It feels good to flow in and out of a day’s work, sharing the sidewalk with the people we aim to protect and represent at our firm.

The move downtown seemed obvious to us. We needed to feel that flow of the city again. So as I walk through the downtown Farmer’s Market on a Thursday lunch break, breathing in the fresh aromas and feeling that familiar buzz around me, or when I see the transformation of our new building from what used to be an old run down bar to the thoughtfully renovated and decorated downtown jewel that it will be known as, I can’t help but get excited. I look forward to knowing our community better. I’m eager to plug in and represent our brand here. I’m honored to take part in this expanding, legacy that is the City of Destiny.

Evergreen Personal Injury Counsel located in downtown Tacoma

Our firm has transformed and feels stronger than ever. And now we have the facility to equally reflect that journey. Keep thriving Tacoma, you are a powerhouse!

What are you most looking forward to about the future of Tacoma?
Tacoma has grown exponentially in the last 20 years from a place that you didn’t want to visit to a destination for good food, art and entertainment. It’s only getting better.

What does the phrase “We are Downtown” mean to you?
It means our community and our family of friends and businesses. It means having pride in where you work and what you do.

Tell us what your favorite experience of moving to this historic building is?
Seeing the transformation from run down bar to a jewel of downtown Tacoma.

Do you have a favorite local downtown spot now (in your new neighborhood)?
Thursday’s Farmer’s Market or the Pacific Avenue restaurant scene.

What is your favorite spot in the new building?
The “fish bowl” also known as my office. I get to see everyone walking by.