Lakota R. Denton, PA

Why Should I Let EMS Evaluate Me After A Car Crash?

Following a car accident, EMS (Emergency Medical Services) often arrive in an ambulance to assess if anyone is seriously injured, and needs to be transported to a hospital for evaluation or treatment. I often hear clients report that they ‘felt fine’ at the time of the accident and declined to be evaluated by EMS at the scene, since they weren’t experiencing any pain or symptoms, or their minor aches and pains were not concerning.   While this seems like a reasonable and logical course of action at the time, declining medical evaluation can cause problems down the line, if your injuries progress or develop, which they often do in car crashes. Immediately following a crash, our adrenaline is spiking, our fight-or-flight response kicks in, not to mention the tendency for sprain/strain symptoms to ramp up over the first 24-72 hours. I’m not saying that you should go to the hospital for every minor fender bender, but it is wise to take the time to be evaluated at the accident scene by medical personnel. Here’s why:

Delayed Onset Symptoms

Often times, injuries that don’t involve broken bones (referred to as soft tissue injuries) can have a delayed onset of symptoms. This means that you might feel OK (or maybe a little stiff) at the time of the crash, but hours or days later, the stiffness can turn into much more serious symptoms requiring treatment.   If you declined to be treated at the accident scene, but then required some medical treatment (like an ER visit with X-rays and CT scans, for example) and then try to file a claim later to cover your medical expenses, the insurance company evaluating the claim is likely to view your lack of evaluation at the accident scene as proof that you were not legitimately injured. This has nothing to do with logic, but it’s often how these situations are treated.

Timeline of Treatments

Injury claims rely on a timeline of medical documentation in order to piece together and properly value a claimant’s injury.   I can’t tell you how often a client tells me that they denied to be treated by EMS at the scene, opting to ‘go home and see how it goes’.   They routinely find themselves in the ER or primary physician’s office a day or two later with significant symptoms as a result of sprains, strains, contusions, or other soft tissue injuries.  

Painting the Picture

Insurance companies tend to undervalue soft tissue injuries, and they look for opportunities to minimize the severity of these claims. Since the severity level of soft tissue injuries are dictated by the symptoms, treatments, and treatment duration, thorough medical documentation is vital to getting properly compensated. Demonstrable injuries (such as broken bones, joint injuries etc…) are validated with diagnostic tests like X-Rays and Cat scans, and are much more concrete in the eyes of an insurer.   The murky waters of soft tissue injury require your attorney to paint a picture of your injuries, in order to justify the claims value.  This picture can only be painted with medical documentation, and if the documentation is not there, there’s very little your attorney can do to increase the value.


All of this is why it’s well worth it to take the time to be evaluated for injuries by EMS at the accident scene. Think of it as an insurance policy: Hopefully you won’t need it, but if your symptoms do worsen (as they often do in a car crash) over time, you have this puzzle piece to add to the big picture when it comes time to settle with an insurer.  


from our Blog:



Lakota Denton

Lakota Denton

Lakota Denton is an Asheville, NC trial lawyer who focuses on recovering for injured people. Lakota has been practicing law in Asheville, N.C. since 2011. Lakota attended Keene State College in New Hampshire and graduated with a degree in psychology in 2000. Lakota played professional soccer after graduating from college. In 2011 Lakota graduated Cum Laude from Western New England college where he was awarded the Edward Cooley Award for Excellence in Labor Law, The CALI excellence for the future award for Labor Law, The CALI excellence for the future award for Jurisprudence Survey, The CALI excellence for the future award for Trial Methods, and was a member of the American Association for Justice Moot Court Team. Lakota has been practicing in his own firm since 2013, focusing solely on personal injury. He is a member of the American Association of Justice, the North Carolina Advocates for Justice, the North Carolina Bar association, the American Bar Association, the National Trial Lawyers, and was awarded Top 100 Trial Lawyers by the National Trial Lawyers, the 2014 Top 40 Lawyers under 40, and the Avvo clients choice award. He has spoken at the Asheville Paralegals Association Luncheon and he served on the North Carolina Advocates for Justice Auto Torts leadership team in 2017. Lakota has won numerous jury trials with verdicts for his clients. For more information, contact our office.   

Need Legal Help? We are here to answer your questions.

We serve clients throughout North Carolina.

Our office is conveniently located in downtown Asheville NC. Please fill out our contact form, or call us today to find out how we can help.

* Please do not submit personal or case details through this form.