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Do you need to replace your child’s car seat automatically after a crash?

On Behalf of | Sep 14, 2023 | Motor Vehicle Accidents

A car accident is an abrupt and terrifying reminder that nobody is really ever safe out there on the road – and a wreck can be especially distressing when you have your child on board at the time.

Naturally, you want to do everything in your power to make sure that your child is safe in the future, as well. So, does that mean you need to replace your child’s car seat after a wreck?

It depends on the severity of the crash

Properly installed and appropriately sized car seats are designed to reduce the risk of injury to children and save lives in the event of a collision. They are rigorously tested to meet safety standards, and following the manufacturer’s guidelines for use and installation is wisest – so look at the paperwork that came with your car seat for recommendations.

In general, however, the severity of the accident dictates what you should do. The only time you should keep a child’s car seat in use after an accident is when the crash is very minor. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) defines a wreck as “minor” only when the following are all true:

  • You were able to drive your vehicle away from the scene of the accident
  • The door nearest the car seat did not have any damage to it from the wreck
  • None of your passengers were injured in any way
  • The airbags in your vehicle (if it has them) did not deploy on impact
  • The car seat itself has no visible signs of damage

If you suffered a side-impact crash on the same side of the vehicle as your child’s car seat or the crash was moderate to severe, you should replace the car seat even if there’s no visible damage to it and your child was unharmed. The forces generated by a wreck can compromise the car seat’s overall structural integrity and make it less effective in any subsequent wreck.

When it comes to your child’s safety, it’s always better to err on the side of caution. And don’t forget to include the replacement cost of your child’s car seat in your motor vehicle accident claim.