Do child car seats need to be replaced after a motor vehicle accident?
The National Highway Transportation Safety Association (NHTSA) recommends that car seats only be replaced following moderate to severe collisions and not following minor impacts.
While this may seem simple on the surface, this standard is actually very subjective and not particularly helpful. For example, what if the damage to the vehicle with the car seats appears minor but the other vehicle suffered more obvious and serious damage? What if the impact was from the side instead of the rear?
In helping to make this broad standard more objective, NHTSA cites to the following criteria:
A minor crash is one in which ALL of the following apply:
- The vehicle was able to be driven away from the crash site.
- The vehicle door nearest the car seat was not damaged.
- None of the passengers in the vehicle sustained any injuries in the crash.
- If the vehicle has air bags, the air bags did not deploy during the crash; and
- There is no visible damage to the car seat.
NEVER use a car eat that has been involved in a moderate to severe crash. Always follow manufacturer’s instructions.
The problem with attempting to figure out whether or not the car seat is still working properly is that these seats are made primarily of plastic and they can have small cuts or tears that aren’t visible to the eye. There is no way to truly know whether or not the seat is still safe for your child were it to be involved in a subsequent impact.
Insurance companies are going to treat each collision with car seats involved on a case-by-case basis. One important way to obtain compensation for a new seat is to demonstrate to the insurance company that the manufacturer’s instructions direct that the seat be replaced. If this is the case, and especially if any other of the criteria are met, then this places the insurance company in a difficult position to deny that request.
This article is based on information found at the NHTSA website.