What Do You Do With A Car Seat After An Accident?
We thankfully live in a time when the need and use for car seats is well known. Almost every adult knows that their child should be in a car seat, and most of us are even aware of the car seat requirements in our state. But there’s one thing that many people don’t know: Does the car seat have to be replaced if the car is in an accident?
Just Looking Isn’t Enough
On the surface, car seats seem rugged and more than able to withstand the impact of an accident. That’s why many people after an accident don’t give much thought to replacing the car seat, absent any visible damage.
Many of us will simply look at the car seat to see if it shows signs of damage, but that is not completely telling, as car seats can suffer structural weakness or unseen cracks or other internal damage, that isn’t visible to the naked or untrained eye. Even rescue personnel aren’t necessarily qualified to look at a car seat after an accident, and tell you whether it can continue to safely be used.
Guidance From the Government
The government through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) does provide some guidance and parameters that can help. According to the NHTSA, car seats in moderate or severe car accidents should be replaced.
Unsure of whether your car accident falls into those categories? The NHTSA says that if anybody in the vehicle (in or out of the car seat) was injured in the accident, or if airbags deployed, the accident was probably serious enough to warrant replacing the car seat.
Other indicators are if the car could not be driven from the accident scene on its own power, or if there is any damage to the car door immediately next to where the car seat was sitting.
Individual manufacturers also give their own guidance on when a car seat should be replaced, and those recommendations can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer.
Some will lean against replacement, in order to tout their seat’s durability and ability to sustain impact, while others will lean towards replacing the car seat in almost any accident, in an effort to sell more car seats.
Car seats are not inexpensive, but the loss of a car seat is an element of damage that can be claimed in your car accident case. Most insurance companies will even pay you the replacement value of a new car seat (not just the value of your old, used one), and will allow you to buy a better car seat (or bigger, if your child has outgrown the old seat) than you previously had.