The use of car seats and booster seats are vital to keep infants, toddlers, and children safe in a vehicle. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the lives of an estimated 325 children under 5 years old were saved by car seats over a single recent year. However, it’s just as important to think about what you should do with your child’s car seat after an accident.
Are Child Car Seats Safe After an Accident?
In the past, many people assumed child car seats were never safe to use after an accident. As a result, it was standard to recommend replacing car seats entirely after any accident, no matter the severity.
Over time, experts have modified this recommendation as new data and findings have come to light. Today, some say car seats may not need to be replaced after a car accident if the crash was relatively minor.
Keep in mind that car seat manufacturers, who are ultimately liable for their products, may have different recommendations. If your child’s car seat manufacturer says you should replace the seat after an accident, you should heed their instructions.
Importance of Replacing a Car Seat After an Accident
If you were involved in a moderate or severe accident, you should consider replacing any car seats that were in your car when the crash occurred, regardless of whether children were in the seats at the time.
Replacing car seats after serious accidents is important because the extreme forces can compromise the hard outer shell, safety straps, and other critical components. In some cases, this type of damage may not be visible, but it could still be enough to prevent a car seat from functioning correctly in a future crash.
NHTSA Car Seat Re-Use Recommendations
NHTSA says you may be able to reuse a car seat after a “minor crash” that meets the five following criteria:
- You were still able to drive your vehicle after the crash.
- The car door nearest to the car seat did not sustain damage in the crash.
- No one in your car suffered injuries as a result of the collision.
- None of the airbags in your vehicle were deployed due to the crash.
- The car seat does not have any visible damage, such as cracks, creases, stress marks, broken pieces, or stretched or torn restraints.
If your situation does not meet all of these criteria, you should replace your car seats. You should also replace car seats if the manufacturer instructs you to do so after any crash.
Will My Insurance Pay to Replace a Car Seat?
All states require drivers to secure children in safe car seats while driving. As a result, insurance companies are typically willing to cover the costs of replacing a car seat after an accident. In fact, some states even require replacement by law.
Unfortunately, insurance companies in other states sometimes refuse to pay for the total price of a new car seat or refuse to cover the cost of a replacement at all. An attorney can help you locate receipts or credit card records to prove your expenses and demand fair compensation if this occurs.
When Do You Need to Contact an Attorney?
If your insurance company refuses to pay for a needed replacement car seat after an accident that is not your fault, you need help from a dedicated attorney. At Jebaily Law Firm, we can help you protect your legal rights and your family’s safety by building a solid case on your behalf.
Contact us today to learn more about your options in a free initial consultation.