Replacing Your Child Car Seat After an Accident
With all the stress that comes along with being involved in a car accident, some people overlook the hazards of a compromised child car seat. In almost all cases, your child’s car seat would need to be replaced. Even if there was no child sitting in the seat at the time of the accident, you still need to replace the seat according to guidelines set out by the NHTSA. If you have a car seat in your car and have been in an accident, look in the car seat manual which you should have kept, and call the car seat company if it’s still unclear.
If you are involved in a car crash and there is a child in your car
Never try to take your child out of his or her child car seat unless there is an immediate danger of fire or more serious injury; always wait for expert help to reach the scene. Often, a child who needs to go to the hospital for their injuries will be transported there in their car seat, as it provides ideal stability and protection.
You should also make the decision whether you should drive home with your damaged car seat, and you simply have to decide at the time. A child sitting in a seat that has been damaged in a previous car accident and its safety compromised, can risk death or serious injury simply by sitting in the car seat, and it’s important to discard and replace the seat if the manufacturer’s instructions stipulate that. Of course, having a car accident is never an ideal situation and you probably don’t have a spare child restraint seat in your trunk waiting to be used, and you may end up transporting your child home or to hospital without them sitting in a car seat. The main thing is to get your child to a safe place or to have required medical treatment, immediately following an accident. Children must pass the five step test to be in a regular seat and wearing a seat belt.
Replacing your car seat after a crash
It’s important that you replace your car seat if it has been involved in a car accident, even if your child wasn’t sitting in it, or you don’t see any obvious damage. If the car seat has done its job and stood up to a major car accident, it isn’t able to do that again; it’s designed for one time use like a motorcycle helmet or fire extinguisher. Keep in mind that when replacing a child’s car seat, that it matches with the old one as far as specifications go.
Your car seat’s manual will inform you whether it’s safe to use the seat again after a minor crash, and some seats do have that feature. Contact the manufacturer if it just isn’t clear.
However, you will need to meet all the NHTSA requirements to reuse your child car seat after a crash, if it is one that can safely be reused, and these are as follows:
- You were able to drive your car away from the accident scene.
- There was no damage to the door closest to the safety seat.
- None of the car’s occupants were injured.
- No deployment of the air bags.
- Car safety seat suffered no visible damage.
Was it just a bump or was it a car crash?
You may want to call the car seat manufacturer for their opinion if you aren’t sure whether you were in a car crash or just a fender bender, and it can often be difficult to decide which it was. Be prepared to provide details of the incident and perhaps photographs.
Will my child car seat be replaced by my insurance company?
Your policy details and agreement will determine this, but you can expect to have the cost of replacing the seat covered if you have full coverage or the accident was the fault of the other driver. The insurance company may need to see an actual or an online copy of the car safety seat instruction manual, and they may say that if the NHTSA criteria weren’t met, they aren’t able to replace the seat for you. You may also receive a written letter from the seat manufacturer advising you that the seat should be replaced following an accident. The bottom line is that it’s your responsibility to replace your child car seat if required, even if you aren’t going to get the cost of the seat back from your insurance company.
Georgia Child Safety Seat Fitting Locations
Did you know that you could have your seat inspected for FREE? All you need to do is make an appointment. Most places do not offer walk-in’s. Don’t take a chance of strapping the seat down on your own. Get some advice from a professional. Here is a link to find a location nearest you.