When you are in a vehicle accident that causes your car to rollover, it can be an extremely frightening experience. Although all motor vehicle collisions are scary, when your car rolls over, there is broken glass and debris all around you in the vehicle.
You may be hanging upside down in the driver seat, only held in place by your seatbelt. You may even have lost consciousness for a short time. When you have been involved in a rollover accident, these tips can help you escape your vehicle without risking further injury.
The first thing to do is to remain calm as you assess your situation. If you are on dry ground, is the area around your car safe for you to exit or are you on the edge of a drop-off of some kind, like a cliff or a ditch bank? If you smell fuel, smoke or an unusual chemical odor, you will want to exit the car as quickly as possible.
You will also want to assess your injuries, checking for areas that may be bleeding as well as any bones that may have been broken. Move slowly to assess whether your car is stable enough for you to exit. If it rocks or tilts significantly when you move, you may need to wait for emergency personnel.
Removing Your Seatbelt
Your first reaction will be to release your seatbelt but remember that you are upside down. The pressure of your body will make it harder to release the buckle on the belt. Hook your knees and thighs on the steering wheel to try to lift your body upwards into the seat. This will take the weight off the buckle and allow you to release it. If you cannot get your knees and thighs in position to grip the steering wheel, you can also reach your arms to the roof and push yourself up to release the pressure.
Also remember that when the seatbelt releases, you will fall to the roof of the car, so try to protect your head as much as possible when that happens to avoid further injury.
Cutting the Seatbelt
If you cannot lift yourself back into the seat to release the pressure on the belt, you may need to cut it. If you carry a pocketknife, you can use that to cut the seatbelt. If you normally do not have a sharp object, you may be able to find a sharp object in the car that will work [source]. Be careful not to cut your hands when using metal or glass to cut through the seatbelt.
Assess the Situation Again
Once you are out of the seatbelt, roll onto your hands and knees and look around for the best way to exit the vehicle. Use the outside of your palms and forearms to crawl out of the car as there may be broken glass on the roof that could cut you.
Before crawling, try to see outside the vehicle to determine the safest exit. You don’t want to crawl out on a road with moving traffic or into a stream of fuel. It is very likely you will have to crawl through a window as your doors may be inoperable.
After Exiting the Vehicle
Once you are outside your vehicle, move away from it, especially if it seems unstable or there is a risk of fire. If you are not seriously injured, try to help others who may have been. If no one else is injured, guide everyone away from the scene of the accident to a safe location where you can await emergency personnel. Do not try to re-enter your vehicle to get belongings or personal effects. You will be able to get those from the location where your vehicle is towed.
If you have been involved in a rollover accident that was the fault of someone else’s negligence, contact a lawyer with motor vehicle collisions experience to see what rights you may have. You can usually schedule a free consultation by calling or filling out an easy online form.