After breaking her arm, shoulder and pelvis in a car rollover, Camperdown's Paige Prout crawled to the side of the road and waited for help.
It was 2.30am on a December morning in 2019 when the 22-year-old crawled to the Hamilton Highway roadside after falling asleep at the wheel and rolling her car about seven times into a nearby paddock.
She said a truck drove by, sounding its horn as it passed.
"I thought, 'Did they not see me?' Adrenaline kicked in and I said to myself I have to live," Ms Prout said.
"When I first woke up in the paddock, I had wet grass and dirt all through my hair (and) it was fight or flight for me at that time. I couldn't find my phone to call for help.
"I looked up and 100 metres away I saw a car drive past, so I crawled to a fence. I put my foot in the fence and flipped myself over it to get to the road."
Nearly four hours later, a woman travelling from Warrnambool to Ballarat in a taxi saw Ms Prout lying roadside and instructed her driver to pull over.
"The woman helped me into the car," Ms Prout said.
"I wasn't aware of how bad my accident had been. I was three kilometres from home, but my house keys were on my car keys. When the ambulance arrived they said I shouldn't be standing.
"She heard me give my details to the ambulance and found my dad on Facebook and messaged him letting my family know I was in severe pain and on the way to Ballarat Base Hospital and needed them.
"When I woke up in hospital, dad was right beside me, so I wasn't alone. The nights were the hardest - I had a few panic attacks. I didn't have my phone and didn't have anyone's numbers (and) it was so isolating.
"The police said I had fallen asleep behind the wheel and my hand had hooked through the wheel and pushed the car off the road."
Ms Prout suffered multiple broken bones and a fractured back and has since had a metal plate and 10 bolts inserted into her shoulder. She said she was grateful she was alive to warn other young drivers.
"I'm forever grateful that I'm living and breathing today because things could've gone in totally the opposite direction," Ms Prout said.
"I thank my lucky stars that I'm here today to tell my story and warn other young drivers. You may think it won't be you that ends up injured in an accident but what happens when it is you? Will you survive or will you not be so lucky?
"Be careful and alert while driving at night. There aren't as many taxis and Ubers operating in regional areas. Often when you need a taxi late at night it won't be there for 90 minutes, and you think what is the point of phoning one? We need more taxis and public transport options in regional areas."
In the meantime, Ms Prout had more advice for young motorists.
"I thought because no one else was involved and it was a single vehicle accident that I couldn't get help or financial support," she said.
"In Victoria, the Transport Accident Commission is a no-fault scheme, meaning that if you have a single vehicle accident and even if you were in the wrong or at fault, you are still able to apply for compensation to assist with medical expenses and with your recovery."
Slater and Gordon senior associate Sarah Elseidy - who is representing Paige in a road injury claim - said single-vehicle accidents were common in regional areas.
"If you have been injured in a crash, it is still worth talking to a lawyer about your legal rights whatever your circumstances are," she said.
"It's important that everyone injured on Australian roads seeks legal advice about their entitlements because they can at the very least get their medical expenses covered under the insurance schemes operating in each state and territory."
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