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Why you should discard your child’s car seat after an accident

On Behalf of | May 5, 2024 | Car Accidents

Every parent’s worst nightmare is an accident on the road, especially when their child is in the car. Luckily, kids’ car seats are engineered to absorb impact and protect them in the event of a collision.

But what happens after an accident? Can you reuse a car seat, or is it time for a replacement? For the sake of your child’s safety, discarding the car seat is almost always the recommended course of action.

The hidden dangers of damaged car seats

Car seats are meticulously engineered to withstand tremendous forces. However, even a seemingly minor accident can compromise this delicate balance. The internal components, like straps and harnesses, can experience hidden stress or micro-fractures. These might not be visible to the naked eye, but they can significantly reduce the car seat’s effectiveness in a future crash.

Following the guidelines: Minor vs. moderate/severe accidents

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) provides clear guidelines on car seat replacement after accidents. For minor fender-benders with no damage to the car itself (think bumped bumpers at low speeds), a thorough inspection by a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician (CPST) might be sufficient.

However, in the case of moderate or severe accidents where the car sustained damage (dents, deployed airbags etc.), the NHTSA recommends replacing the car seat immediately. The forces involved in such crashes can strain the seat’s internal structure tremendously, even if there are no external signs of wear.

While the cost of a new car seat might sting, it pales in comparison to the potential consequences of using a compromised seat in a future accident. Remember, you can pursue compensation for your injuries in the aftermath of an accident caused by another’s negligence. You can also use financial compensation from an at-fault party to replace an affected car seat to help ensure your kids have the best possible protection on the road moving forward.