A picture of a carseat with the words, "do I need to replace my car seat after an accident?"

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Car seats are an important tool for every single parent of small children and infants. They protect children from being thrown or seriously injured in the event of an accident by safely locking them in place.

According to a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 325 children under the age of five are saved each year because they were in a correctly installed and sized car seat during an accident. Thirty-five percent of children who were unrestrained in a car were killed in a serious accident in 2018. 

The data speaks for itself. Car seats are essential for the health and wellbeing of your child when traveling in a motorized vehicle. While many parents understand the significance of having the right-sized car seat for their child and ensuring it is installed correctly, they may not know if they need to replace a car seat after being involved in an accident.

The Hernandez Law Group, P.C. is dedicated to the safety and well-being of our community, which is why we work hard not only to defend the rights of victims of an accident but also to educate our community on safe driving practices. In this article, our car accident team answers the question of whether car seats need to be replaced after an accident.

Should I Replace My Child’s Car Seat After an Accident?

According to the NHTSA, the answer to this question depends on the severity of the accident. If you were in a minor fender bender, then the car seat should be okay to continue using. However, a more serious accident will strain the car seat’s restraints and locking mechanisms, making it weaker and less effective should there be another accident.

How can you tell if an accident was or was not serious enough to warrant replacing the car seat? Ask these questions after the accident:

  • Was your vehicle unable to drive away from the crash site?
  • Is the vehicle door on the side of the car seat damaged? 
  • Did any of the passengers in your vehicle sustain injuries during the accident? 
  • Did the airbags in your vehicle deploy? 
  • Is there any visible damage to your car seat? 

If the answer to these questions is “no,” you should be able to safely keep your current car seat.

What If the Accident Was More Serious?

Two children in car seats.

If there are signs of damage to your vehicle, even if the airbags didn’t go off, it might be worth double checking the car seat for damage. The force of impact on the car seat may have strained  the restraints or locking mechanisms connecting the car seat to the seat. If these seem loose or there are signs of strain or structural damage to the car seat, it is worth getting a replacement.

If the accident was serious enough to cause major damage to the vehicle and/or injures you or one of your passengers, replacing the car seat is a must. While there may be no visible damage to the car seat, the force of impact would have put it under major stress, leading to a weaker car seat that may be unable to protect your child during another accident.

What If My Child Wasn’t In Their Car Seat During the Accident?

If your child was not in the car during the accident but it was a serious accident, you will still want to replace your car seat. Even if it was empty, it was likely affected by the crash forces. The force of the car seat moving forward and then being held back by the lower anchor or tether strap can cause major strain. This weakens these vital areas and may impact its performance if you were to be in another accident.

Does the Insurance Company Cover the Cause of a Replacement Car Seat?

In most cases, if an insurance company approves your car accident claim, the car seat will be covered under the damages in the settlement. The replacement car seat does not need to be the same as your old one, either. For example, if your child was outgrowing their old one, you can buy the next size up with the settlement money. 

If you already bought a new car seat after the accident and before the claim was completed, make sure you save the receipt. This receipt can be used as a record to show the purchase and ensure that you get compensated for it after the accident.

Insurance Companies May Try to Cheat You Out of the Compensation You Deserve

A child sitting in a car seat with a teddy bear next to her.

While insurance companies will usually cover the cost of a replacement car seat, they may not cover the full cost of your medical expenses and damages after an accident. To protect their own pockets, they may try to confuse you into taking blame for the accident. Don’t fall for this. If you were the victim of an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you need a knowledgeable car accident attorney on your side

The team at the Hernandez Law Group, P.C. is dedicated to serving the individuals of the DFW, Abilene, and Amarillo, Texas area and ensuring that they get the compensation they deserve. We work alongside you, allowing you and your family to focus on your recovery after an accident while we handle your compensation claim. Contact us today for more information on our car accident attorney services or to schedule a free no-obligation consultation.