Here are THREE things you should do immediately (and one thing you should NOT do)

1. Alert Your Insurance Carrier!

Open a claim for anticipated medical bills under your personal injury protection (PIP) coverage if you have it. Some people think: Why should my insurance participate, the crash was the other person's fault? This is a well-intentioned but misguided thought. In Washington, the other person's insurance is 'third-party' to you and owes you precisely zero meaningful obligations. Your insurance is 'first-party' insurance and owes you a duty of good faith. This has enormous implications under Washington law and benefits you tremendously. Think about it this way: Why would you want the insurance of the person who hit you directing or managing payment for any of your care when you need it most? *Quick Caveat: If you are a pedestrian who is hit by a motor vehicle, that person's PIP will cover you.

2. Establish Medical Care!

Hopefully, you don't require an emergency room visit or ambulance ride (most crashes with even very serious injuries don't involve either). That said, you should make an effort in the days following your crash to see your primary care provider. If you don't have a primary care provider, heading to the local walk-in to get checked up and secure a referral for physical therapy or chiropractic care is very, very important. You get no points for being "tough," and if your need for treatment is not well documented, the insurance company will treat you as though you were not injured at all. Documentation is critical.

3. Follow Your Providers' Directives Regarding Treatment!

Treatment is no fun. Therapy appointments can be a pain. Following a treatment protocol can be a major inconvenience. Injections and surgery can be scary. There are going to be days you feel a little bit better and a little bit worse, on your road to recovery. That said, your providers are the experts in determining the length and duration of your care, which specialists you ought to be referred to, and whether you should pursue and maintain an at-home program, and so many other things. At the end of the day, you have an obligation to attempt to work your way back to the best person you can possibly be. Not only will this produce the best outcome for you and your family, it will provide the best narrative to arm your claim with the insurance company.

4. Do Not Negotiate!

Now is the time to focus on healing and improvement. Now is not the time to try to establish the value for your case. You do not know all of the at-fault parties (the person who caused the crash may simply be the tip of the iceberg). You do not know all of the available insurance. You do not know the trajectory of your injuries and all that might be required to treat them. There are simply too many unknowns to trust that the insurance company is likely to look out for you. Keep in mind that their obligation is to their insured, to buy out your claim as quickly and as cheaply as possible. didn't say consult with an attorney. Why not? There are certainly occasions where it makes sense to engage an attorney early, and without question an experienced injury attorney is likely to make a positive difference in the outcome of your case. Not all cases require a lawyer. Some do, but not all. These steps protect you, regardless of whether you choose to pursue representation or not.

At McPartland Law Offices, we will give you the facts and the law, but we will not give you the hard sell. You are welcome to shop for attorneys and if you can find one you're more comfortable with (possibly; we are not for everyone) who can do the job better than we can (probably not; though we do have peers), hire them.

Click here to get answers to four common questions about personal injury cases.