car upside down after accident in road

Have you ever been in a serious car accident involving multiple vehicles? Thursday night was scary for many residents of Lake Wales. When attempting a left-hand turn on Highway 27 at Chalet Suzanne Rd., a car was struck by a semi truck traveling south. The semi then careened over the median and into a group of cars stopped at a light in the northbound lanes. This led to a 16-vehicle pileup,  leaving 3 people seriously injured and dozens more stranded with their cars. Thankfully, no fatalities have been reported at this time. The investigation will be ongoing, so the cause of the initial collision has yet to be determined.

However, this situation made us think about a side of accidents we rarely cover…

How can you be prepared for an accident before it ever happens?

It’s an important topic and it depends on which side of the accident you’re on.

What should I do if I’m in a serious car accident?

Being in an accident is traumatic, no matter how minor the collision seems. While you can never be fully prepared emotionally, you can empower yourself with knowledge of how to best respond in the moments immediately after.

If you’ve just been hit, a quick assessment is the best place to start. Ask yourself:

  • Is my car still upright?
  • Where am I? (in the middle of moving traffic, on the shoulder, in the median, etc.)
  • Do I feel any serious pain?
  • Am I trapped or am I able to move?
  • Am I in immediate danger from flames, water, etc.?
  • Is my phone nearby? If so, call 911 for help ASAP!

After this quick assessment, you can better choose your next move. Unless you’re in immediate danger and as long as you are away from traffic, you’re usually best to wait for emergency services to arrive. If you have any injuries, specifically spinal injuries, you could make them worse if you attempt to move on your own. If you are in immediate danger, carefully try to get out of your car and get to a safe space until help arrives. Stay as still as possible if you suspect injuries.

Sometimes though, you can’t wait for help to arrive and need to get out immediately. That might not be as easy as it seems.

What happens if I can’t get out of my car after a serious accident?

Oftentimes in serious accidents, stuck seatbelts, jammed doors, and glass windows/windshields prevent your exit. These are situations when having some easy-to-reach tools or supplies in your car’s glove box might be a good idea.

A flashlight or headlamp

If your accident occurs after dark, having a source of light you can reach easily from the driver’s seat is a comfort. Whether it’s just to provide illumination to the area while you wait for help, or to help you in your own escape, light is very important. Headlamps are superior to flashlights in this situation as they let you be hands-free if you’re trying to get out of your car.

broken windshield in car after accident

Closeup of crashed car window in car accident.

A window-breaking tool

In accidents where cars end up submerged under water, or victims need to escape and can’t, the extra-strong glass of car windows can actually be deadly. This glass does not easily break, trapping victims inside. A window-breaking tool lets you easily (and safely) break through a window to provide a means of escape in emergencies.

A seatbelt cutter

Much like the windows, seatbelts in vehicles are tougher than regular materials. They are nearly impossible to cut if you don’t have the right tool. A seatbelt cutter is compact and easy to stow away in the glove box but could save your life if you need to get out of your car quickly.

While not the norm, accidents that require victims to think like this do happen, and we believe preparation is paramount in getting out alive.

More often though, witnesses are the ones facing tough decisions after an accident. So,

What should I do if I witness a serious car accident?

In large-scale accidents like the one in Lake Wales, traffic usually comes to a stop in all directions. Since both northbound and southbound lanes experienced the impact, the entirety of Highway 27 stalled for several hours. Many witnesses parked at nearby businesses or coming out of stores saw what happened, as the accident occurred just after 6:30 PM. Often, these scenarios are when “good samaritans” show up and attempt to help, but is that the best choice?

It really depends.

Obviously, your very first action after witnessing a serious accident should be to call 911. Providing an accurate description of the accident and the location can go a long way in getting help to the victims faster and doesn’t put you at risk of becoming a victim too. Getting into a secondary accident yourself worsens an already bad situation. Ongoing traffic poses a serious risk of collision, and the accident site can expose you to fire, spilled chemicals, etc.

It’s also important to note that you could worsen injuries if you attempt to move or provide assistance to injured victims. If they are still in their car and are not in immediate danger, it’s best to provide verbal comfort only and wait for help to arrive.

What if victims are getting out of their cars on their own though? What can you do to help?

In this case:

  • provide verbal comfort, and offer assistance
  • guide them to a safe place to sit and wait for emergency services
  • offer your phone if they need to call family or friends

Sometimes, being a hero simply looks like a word of assurance and a hand to hold.

Who should I call if I’ve been in an accident?

Tampa Bay is home to thousands of commuters, so heavy traffic is a way of life. Unfortunately, that means accidents are commonplace too. In addition to Highway 27 (aka Bloody 27 to locals), I-4, I-75, and many local roads see collisions every day.

Brooks Law Group sees the hundreds of victims and their families impacted by these accidents. We stand for those injured, and we support families who have lost loved ones to needless accidents on Florida’s roads. We get the justice and compensation victims of car accidents need and deserve. Our qualified team of lawyers is ready to take on your fight.

If you’re suffering from injuries after an accident and don’t know where to turn, don’t face the battle alone. Call us to book your free consultation, and experience the difference of a legal team that cares about you. Look to Brooks!

Steve was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. As was the practice for new doctors his father worked day and night during his medical residency at Charity Hospital there. Steve comes from a long line of doctors. His father, his grandfather, his great grandfather, even two uncles were all specialists and/or surgeons in their chosen medical specialties, including internal medicine specialist, obstetrics / gynecology, neurosurgery and general practice / surgery. His great-great grandfather was the Surgeon General of Ohio during the Civil War.