Keeping kids safe: when to get a new car seat after an accident

You work hard to ensure your children’s safety, but there is always something new to be aware of. Many parents are unsure of the recommendations on when they should replace a car seat or booster seat if they have been in a car accident. That’s understandable, because the recommendations change over time.

According to Safe Ride 4 Kids, the National Highway Traffic And Safety Administration (NHTSA) changed its recommendations regarding what to do after minor vehicle accidents. Previously, NHTSA said that parents should buy new car seats and booster seats after any accident. Today, their recommendations are a little more relaxed. Under certain circumstances, they say that you do not need to replace your car seats.

If you were in a minor accident, you may not need to purchase new car seats. NHTSA considers an accident minor if it meets these five criteria:

  • The car seat has no visible damage.
  • You can drive your car away from the scene of the accident.
  • Your air bags did not inflate.
  • No one was injured.
  • The door in closest proximity to the car seat did not sustain any damage.

In moderate or severe accidents, NHTSA recommends that car and booster seats be replaced, even if they were empty at the time of the accident. If you are still not sure whether you should replace your car seats, you can call the manufacturer and ask what you should do.

While replacing car seats adds one more item to the long list of things you must do after a car accident, it is important for your child’s safety. Also, most insurance policies cover the cost of replacing car seats, so it shouldn’t add to your overall losses from the accident. If you’re not sure whether you should purchase the same size and type of car seat or if your child needs a different one, see NHTSA’s car seat recommendations here.

Legal help is available after car crashes

If you or your passengers suffer injuries in a car accident, you can speak with a lawyer about recovering compensation for all of your losses, including damage to the vehicle and the car seats, medical expenses and lost wages. 

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