The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends buckling children under age 12 in the back seat of your vehicle. Depending on the height and weight of your son or daughter, you should also use an appropriate child car seat or booster seat. While most safety-rated car seats contain high-quality materials that are strong and durable, they are not invincible.
Following any car crash, you should take certain steps to protect yourself and assert your legal rights. Replacing a car seat that looks fine may not be high on your priority list. Still, in some collisions, car seats can develop microscopic cracks or other types of damage that make them unsafe. To know whether you need to replace your child’s car seat, you must weigh the seriousness of the accident.
After any car accident, you should inspect your child’s car seat for visual signs of damage. When doing so, look for cracked or strained plastic. Also, check for fabric tears and mechanical problems. Fortunately, if the collision was minor, you likely do not need to replace the car seat. A minor accident has all the following characteristics:
- You were able to drive your vehicle away from the crash scene.
- Your vehicle’s airbags did not deploy.
- The door closest to the child’s car seat sustained no damage.
- You and your passengers suffered no injuries.
Moderate and severe collisions
Even low-speed collisions have the potential to be moderate or severe. If your crash does not satisfy the requirements for a minor accident, you should replace your child’s car seat immediately. This is true even if the car seat appears to be fine. Luckily, most insurers cover the cost of replacing a child’s car seat.
Your child is the most precious cargo that your car will ever carry. Still, always buckling your child into a weight- and height-appropriate car seat is only part of your safety plan. By understanding when to replace a car seat after an accident, you ensure that the young ones in your family have what they need to stay safe every time they ride in your vehicle.