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Do You Really Have to Replace a Car Seat After a Crash?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is the primary authority on car seats and when to replace them. Not only are there key times in development to “grow” your seat with your child or outright get a new seat, but you may also have to replace a car seat if you’ve been in a crash.

Through recent years the NHTSA has educated parents and guardians that they need to replace their seats after any crash, no matter how minor. Now, that is changing.

Do You Have to Replace a Car Seat For Minor Crashes and “Fender Benders”?

The NHTSA has some clear criteria on when you do or do not have to replace a car seat. When it comes to most minor crashes, you may not have to worry about it. This recent change from the NHTSA came on after it was clear that many families struggled to replace car seats, and many insurance companies over-emphasized the danger of using the old seat.

Insurance companies providing misinformation or over-dramatizing the situation led many parents to use no car seat until they could find a replacement. Clearly, that is a less safe option than allowing children to ride in a seat that was in a fender bender and sustained no stress or damage. That doesn’t change that insurance companies made people feel that the moment their car impacted something, the safety of the car seat was compromised.

To qualify for not replacing your car seat, the NHTSA requires that all of the following be met:

  1. The vehicle was safe to drive after the crash.
  2. The door closes to the car seat was not affected by the crash.
  3. There were not any injuries associated with the accident.
  4. No airbags deployed or should have deployed.
  5. There is no visible cue that the seat took any damage or strain.

These are stringent but necessary. These requirements really cut down the replacements for people who were honestly in a crash. That was not a big deal. If someone nudged you in a parking lot, then there’s no need to rush out for a new car seat.

Do You Have to Replace a Car Seat For Moderate to Severe Crashes?

Although a world of only minor crashes is the dream, if you have a moderate to severe crash, then you do need to replace your seat immediately. Most insurance companies will not hesitate or question the need for a new car seat and will automatically add it to your claim.

A moderate crash is one that involves injuries or damage to the body of the vehicle. This describes most crashes. Often the vehicle will take on enough damage to put a strain on the car seat, particularly where the belt feeds through to secure it.

After a crash, check the plastic for wear. If you see any lines or stress marks, then you must replace your car seat. Any severe car crash or any crash that caused damage to the car seat requires immediate replacement as well.

After these crashes, you need to dispose of the car seat properly, and that means making it unusable. Imagine if you leave it out by your trash bins, and then someone comes by and picks it up, thinking that it’s still safe to use.

When disposing of your car seat, you can turn it in at a city recycling center or, you can toss it out after cutting the straps and removing the detachable parts such as the connectors that hold the belts together.

Speaking to a Richmond Car Accident Attorney

Regardless of how severe your crash, you will need to talk with a Richmond car accident lawyer. Although it seems like car insurance companies are on your side with their quickness to provide a claim for your car seat, they’re not. They’re simply trying to rush your claim through so they can give you the lowest payout possible.

Before you accept any settlement or sign anything from an insurance company, contact your Richmond car wreck lawyer.

Reach Out to the Local Richmond Car Accident Injury Attorneys

When working with car seats or children involved, it’s always best to lean on the side of caution. In recent years the National Highways Safety associations have learned more about car seat use after accidents, and the strain on the industry has led to changes as well.

The attorneys at CAIL have spent years helping people understand the circumstances of their accident. After a car wreck, call CAIL to schedule a free consultation. At that consultation, you can explain what happened and learn about the degree of your crash.