If you’ve already been injured on the job, in a car crash, or as a result of someone else’s negligence, you should absolutely call us to find out if the facts of your case could result in a favorable settlement. Often, they can. Don’t shrug off an injury or give into paying out of pocket for someone else’s mistake.

Even if you haven’t been in an accident yet, it’s a good idea to know what to do if it ever happens to you. Statistics show that most people will experience some sort of personal injury accident in their lifetime, whether it’s a car wreck, workplace accident, slip and fall, or some other injury.

The steps you take immediately after an accident can make or your break claim.

Below, we outline four things you should do if you have been in an accident of any kind. Familiarize yourself with these essential steps now so that they’ll be second nature if, and when, you need them.

1. Get Medical Attention

See a doctor as soon as possible. Don’t assume you understand your injuries on your own. Many accident victims initially underestimate the extent of their damages. Some injuries don’t show symptoms for hours, days, weeks, or even longer. But a physician can examine you for problems you might not have even noticed.

A documented doctor’s visit can also prove to be extremely beneficial for any compensation claim you might file later. Too often, people wait a long time to see a doctor, and then when they finally go to file a claim, they regret not having gone sooner.

If you do receive medical attention of any kind, get a copy of all your medical records and keep them in a safe place.

In the event of an auto accident, it’s usually a good idea to call 911. This allows both the police and an ambulance to respond, which gets you emergency attention faster and can also be beneficial for your claim. (Remember: after any car crash — even a minor one — you are required to contact the police and stay put until an officer arrives.)

2. Document Everything

Evidence is extremely important in any personal injury claim. It isn’t enough to know that you were injured. You must be able to show the insurance company and/or the court that the other side caused your accident. You’ll need to prove the extent and the financial value of your damages too.

Steps you can take to build evidence for your case include:

  • Take notes and write down the details of what happened. (This will be more accurate for later reference than relying on your memory.)
  • Take detailed photographs of the accident scene, your injuries, and any machinery, vehicles, or unsafe conditions that might be involved.
  • Write down the names and contact information of as many eyewitnesses as you can.
  • If you exchange insurance information, be sure to keep those documents in a safe place. Likewise, get a copy of the police report if there is one, and store it where it won’t get lost or destroyed.
  • Keep a journal of the accident. Write down your symptoms as they develop, take note of the date and time of your doctor’s visits, and keep a list of who you’ve talked with.

3. Be Careful of What You Say

You’ve probably heard it said that “loose lips sink ships,” and that’s true in personal injury litigation too.

It’s so important that you protect your own interests. Never admit fault. Even seemingly innocent statements can be held against you later. Also avoid exaggerating or accidentally saying something that isn’t entirely true.

Choose your words carefully when talking to insurance adjustors, representatives of your employer, police officers, and witnesses. Remember that insurance companies represent their own interests, and they are not acting for your benefit. Never sign an insurance settlement without speaking to an attorney first.

Finally, please exercise extreme caution when using social media. Even if your profiles are “private,” insurers and their attorneys are extremely good at accessing that information. Tweets, status updates, photographs, location check-ins, and tags from friends can all be used against you, and the other side may even try to pull those things out of context. Never talk or post about the accident, and it’s best to avoid using social media altogether until your accident claim is resolved.

4. Hire a Lawyer

An experienced Washington personal injury attorney can make all the difference in the outcome of your case.

Even if you’ve suffered legitimate injuries and truly deserve compensation, the at-fault party is going to work very hard to reduce their liability. Many times, they flat-out refuse to pay. But when you get an aggressive team of attorneys in your corner, their tune often starts to change.

A lawyer’s job is to fight passionately for your best interests. That means thoroughly investigating the accident, pursuing every opportunity for justice, and executing litigation strategies that are likely to maximize your financial compensation.

At Hames, Anderson, Whitlow & O’Leary, P.S., we represent personal injury clients on a contingency basis. That means you only have to pay us if and when we get you money. There are no upfront costs and nothing to lose.

You didn’t deserve to suffer an injury, but you do deserve the best legal representation you can find. After all, the other side is going to look after its best interests. Shouldn’t you have someone looking out for yours?

Contact us online, or call us at (509) 586-7797 so we can get to work on your claim and send notice to the responsible parties. The sooner, the better.