The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends that you replace car seats after they have been involved in a moderate to severe accident. If you are unsure whether to replace your car seat, review the NHTSA criteria below or contact your car seat’s manufacturer.
Car seats can be severely damaged during the impact from an accident. This is true even if the seat was empty when the accident happened. Damage can decrease safety protection, putting your child at greater risk of injury in a future collision. It’s always best to err on the side of caution when deciding what to do with a car seat after an accident.
When is it safe to keep using my car seat?
The NHTSA has a checklist of criteria for replacing your car seat after a car accident. According to the NHTSA, you should only keep using your car seat if you can answer NO to all five questions:
- Were you able to drive away in the vehicle after the accident? If you had to get the car towed, replace the car seat.
- Was there any damage to the door nearest to the car seat? If the car seat was installed in a third row of seats (which minivans and SUVs often have), the closest door is either a door at the second row of seats, or a rear door. If there was damage to the nearest door, get a new car seat.
- Was anyone injured?If there were any injuries, play it safe and replace the car seat.
- Did any air bags deploy? If airbags deployed anywhere in the car, replace your car seat.
- Is there any visible damage to the car seat?Give it a careful inspection, and make sure it is not cracked or bent. Also look for stretched webbing on the safety belts, broken stitches at the top tether, broken off pieces, or other signs of stress or damage. Don’t continue to use a damaged car seat.
Many car seat owners’ manuals say that you should replace a car seat after any accident. If you are not sure what the manufacturer recommends for your particular model of car seat, you can contact the manufacturer directly. The manufacturer’s name and phone number and the model number of your car seat should be printed on your seat.
“Better safe than sorry” is a good rule of thumb. If either the NHTSA guidelines or the manufacturer recommend that you replace your car seat, do it. It’s easy to get another car seat, but your child’s life and health are irreplaceable.
Will insurance pay for a new car seat?
Usually, yes. To increase the chance that the insurance company will pay for the car seat (and your other damage or injuries), call the police immediately after the accident. The police will make a report confirming that the accident occurred and the damage it caused. Report the accident to your insurance company promptly, and save the receipt for any new car seat you buy.
What should I do with the old car seat?
If there is any possibility that your child was injured while riding in the car seat, save the car seat but do not use it. The car seat can be used as evidence in a claim to recover money for your child’s injuries. It might help show how the accident happened or how the impact affected your child. And the seat can be inspected for defects that might have caused or contributed to your child’s injuries.
If your child has been in an accident, a lawyer can help you. A lawyer can collect evidence showing what caused the accident and who is at fault. A lawyer can send your child to doctors who have extensive experience with accident injuries. And a lawyer knows how to make the strongest possible case to the insurance company or in car accident law suits in Atlanta. With a lawyer’s help, you can focus on your child while your lawyer works to get you the most money possible.
Talk to an Atlanta Car Accident Lawyer for Free
If your child has been injured in an accident, we are here to help. Our lawyers won’t charge you anything unless we win money for you. Let us give you a free, no obligation consultation to discuss your claim and explain your options. Call us at (404) 341-6555 or fill out the form to the right to get your free consultation today.