If you have been in an automobile accident with a child buckled into a car seat or booster seat, you may need to replace the child’s seat. Although there is no Federal or State law requiring replacement of a car or booster seat after a crash, the impact and force of a collision may cause unseen damage to the structural integrity of these seats. This hidden damage may prevent the car or booster seat from properly protecting your child in the event of a future crash. However, manufacturers are constantly working to improve the quality of these seats and the positive results are being noticed by many safety agencies.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) originally recommended that any car seat involved in an automobile accident be replaced. Obviously, this can be expensive for parents. With the results of recent studies showing that many of today’s child safety seats can withstand the impact of a minor accident without damage, the NHTSA has revised its recommendation. The NHTSA recommends that, after a minor crash, parents should use their own judgment in determining whether or not the car or booster seat is damaged and needs to be replaced. After a severe automobile accident, the car seat should always be replaced.
To determine whether the car crash qualifies as minor and determine whether the car seat is undamaged, use the following criteria:
- You were able to drive your vehicle away from the crash.
- The vehicle door nearest the car seat was not damaged in any way.
- No one in your vehicle was injured.
- The airbags in your vehicle (if any) did not deploy.
- When you carefully inspect the car seat, including under its padding, you do not see any cracks or deformities of any kind that may have been caused by the crash.
If any of the above statements are not true or if you are unsure if the car or booster seat will properly protect your child in a future accident, you may take the car seat to an authorized inspection station for advice.
If you find that you need to replace the seat after an accident, contact your insurance company as some policies cover the cost of replacement.
If you or someone you know has been involved in an automobile accident in or around Atlanta, you should contact James Rice Law as soon as possible to understand your rights; contact us or call 404-800-5940 to learn more.