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3 Steps for Survival if Your Car Is Submerged in Freezing Water

Roll down the window of a sinking car to escape more quickly.It’s only a winter wonderland while you are in control of your vehicle. Icy roads threaten your control and can be dangerous for many reasons. Snow, ice and sleet make driving increasingly challenging during winter months. Due to dangerous roadway conditions, the risk of accidents is high. One type of accident you probably have not thought of is one that results in a vehicle being submerged in a frozen body of water.

Every year, many accidents like this one are reported where a car slides off the road and lands on an iced-over body of water such as a lake, river, or retention ponds. More often than not, the ice will not be thick enough to sustain the 4,000 pounds of the vehicle. The ice will crack and the car will be submerged in the frigid water. If the water is deep enough, the car will sink to the bottom. In a situation such as this, it is important to refrain from panicking and take immediate action to escape from the vehicle.

How to Safely Escape a Sinking Car in Freezing Weather

1. Open Your Window to Escape the Car

Your initial thought may be to pause and call 911, but instead, immediately lower a window and exit the car as soon as it lands in the water. If you don’t open the window, the water pressure enclosing the vehicle will make it harder to escape as it sinks.

2. Seek Unbroken Ice to Get Yourself Out of the Water

Once you are in the water, the low temperatures threaten to numb your body making it more difficult to swim. This is why you must get to unbroken ice as soon as possible and pull yourself up. To do so, kick your feet quickly and use your upper body to pull yourself out. Your elbows can be used for support as you climb over the edge.

Once you are out of the water, do not stand up. The ice could crack again from your body weight. You should lie on your side and roll to solid ground, away from the frozen body of water. This will distribute your weight evenly throughout the ice making it less likely to break.

3. Reach the Shore and Call 911

When you reach the edge you should find a warm shelter then call the police. If you stay outside in low temperatures, you are at-risk for hypothermia.

How to Avoid a Submersion Accident

The best way to avoid this type of accident is to exercise caution while on the road. It is also important to be aware of the frozen bodies of water in your area and monitor your surroundings while you are outside. People fall through ice while skating, ice fishing and doing a variety of winter-time activities. Children and pets are also at risk of falling in frozen bodies of water and are less likely to know how to escape the situation.

A fall through ice can be catastrophic, but this knowledge can be life-saving for you or a loved one this winter. If you fall through ice, remember these steps:

  • Don’t panic
  • Roll down your window
  • Swim to unbroken ice
  • Kick rapidly
  • Use your upper body to climb over the ice
  • Roll to solid ground
  • Find shelter
  • Call the police

Negligence of Other Drivers Can Lead to Submersion

If the negligence of another driver has resulted in your injury, do not hesitate to reach out to Keller & Keller today. Winter weather can make the road a dangerous place. We offer free consultations and are here to help you get the compensation you deserve.

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How Much Is My Car Accident Injury Claim Worth?

Before we look at the factors that determine the value of your car accident claim, know this: NO ONE can initially tell you what your car accident claim is worth; not until you tell your version of the story, liability is nailed down, your medical treatment is finished, and an experienced personal injury law firm has reviewed your case.

And it's ok not to have an immediate dollar amount thrown at you. After all, if your accident had a "price tag," then there would be no opportunity for you to present your particular case, meaning you'd potentially risk shorting yourself thousands of dollars, or the entire claim!

(Having settled thousands of personal injury cases, we are certain of one fact: No two clients are alike, no two car accidents are alike, no matter how similar they seem.)

Our firm's #1 goal is likely similar to your own at the moment: recover the maximum amount of compensation for the accident. The way to ensure you receive a fair settlement is to present a professional and persuasive case that is supported by medical documentation and measurable course(s) of treatment, e.g., physical therapy.


You're likely worried about hospital bills, property damage, lost wages, and a possible change in lifestyle, so a quick settlement may seem attractive. However, as time passes, most clients are thankful they took the time to consult with someone who could advise them of future factors that could potentially increase their case value.

Scenarios that can increase the value of a car accident case might include:

  • The client's injuries worsened over time, leading to unforeseen treatments and costly procedures.
  • The client didn't predict the type and/or duration of treatment their injuries required.
  • The client didn't anticipate the strain the accident would place on their personal life.
  • The client didn't account for the long-term psychological effects.

These points are common after-effects accident victims are unable to predict immediately following their accident, and the insurance company is going to try and settle with you before any of these scenarios occur.

Ultimately, your damages are likely to have additional value if presented to an insurance company by way of experienced legal representation. Having an attorney allows you to take the time you need to ultimately see the full picture of your claim, and remember, once you sign a release of all claims, you're essentially telling the insurance company they're "off the hook."


Each person is unique, each accident is unique, every case has unique value, and there are no exceptions to this rule. Let's look at an example:

  • Driver A is a young pregnant female with no pre-existing medical conditions. She has been involved in a rear-end car accident collision. She was taken by ambulance to the hospital for examination of back and neck pain. The doctors diagnose her with whiplash and prescribe her a course of treatment that is consistent with the needs of her pregnancy. She completes treatment and is released soon after.
  • Driver B is a middle-aged male with prior back surgery. He has also been involved in a rear-end style car accident collision and is experiencing neck and back pain. He was not able to visit a doctor until two weeks after the crash due to fear of missing work and losing his job. When he is able to visit the doctor, he is diagnosed with whiplash and is prescribed a course of physical therapy. He is released soon after.

Let's also assume that Driver A and Driver B were rear-ended at the same spot on the same highway on the same day. Additionally, the vehicles that struck A & B were traveling at the same speed at the time of impact. Weather conditions were the same for both accidents, and both A & B and the adverse drivers have the same insurance companies, etc.

What does all this mean?

Despite everything we know about driver's A & B accident details, their claims will have different values!

Even with all the listed similarities, it's very unlikely that driver A & B will undergo the similar medical treatment for their injuries; respond to treatment in the same manner; or experience the same types of aggravation and frustration in the days and months after their accident.


This "formula" is an estimate that has often been thought of by many as a way to value car accident claims. And though it is true that you may receive three times your medical bills, it's also just as likely that you'll receive more or less.

In short, never assume the value of your car accident claim is simply "3 x's your medical bills."


There are typically 3 components we look to recover for in a personal injury case that arises from a car accident:

  1. Past and future medical bills
  2. Past and future lost wages, or loss of earning capacity
  3. Past and future pain, suffering, disfigurement, and disability

Again, the numbered factors above don't apply to every case, and you should always have an experienced injury lawyer evaluate your specific claim.


Accidents that leave a person with traumatic injuries; broken bones; the need for surgery; permanent hardware; and/or cause death, may constitute what is known as a "policy limits demand."

In these instances, our personal injury attorneys will immediately notify the adverse insurance company of our representation of a client and ask that they send us what is known as a "certified declarations (DEC) sheet." This document will reveal the total amount of available dollars under the liable party's policy.

Once we receive the DEC sheet we will be able to tell you how much money is available, and whether or not your injuries justify asking for the entire amount. However, it will still be very difficult to predict the value of your car accident claim, because other factors will almost certainly play a role.

For instance, we may be able to reduce certain medical bills on your behalf so that you're not required to pay back the full amount, thus increasing your settlement. We may also be able to secure Underinsured Motorists Coverage (UIM) from your policy in the event that the adverse policy limits are inadequate.


Asking an experienced personal injury attorney to examine an insurance policy ensures you aren't leaving money on the table. Policies can be confusing, full of difficult-to-understand contract language, some of which is applicable to your case, and some that isn't.

If your everyday job doesn't require you to review insurance policies, then your chance of fully understanding available coverage will be challenging. Fortunately, we have more than 75 years of locating and examining insurance polices for car accident victims, so we can help guide you and youir family in the right direction at no cost.

Ultimately, speaking with an experienced injury law firm about your case is an excellent step toward determining what your car accident case is worth.

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