Do I have to replace a car seat after a car accident?

Unfortunately, every year more than 100,000 car accidents occur in Virginia each year with tens of thousands of injuries and almost 1,000 fatalities. In fact, one crash occurs every five minutes, 144 people are injured, and 2.3 lives are lost per day in the Commonwealth because of a motor vehicle accident.  Learn more about when you need to replace a car seat after an accident and ensure your child’s safety.

Most car crashes happen on non-interstate roadways. In other words, the higher risks occur on roads; people are more likely to travel daily in their normal activities with children. When a car seat is involved in an accident, parents and guardians need to decide if it needs to be replaced after a crash.

Children not properly restrained are more likely to be injured or worse. CDC confirms buckling children up in age and size appropriate restraint seats significantly reduces risks. Making the right decision about a replacement after a car accident occurs is critical to ensure they’re safe in the event a future crash happens.

Consulting with a personal injury attorney after an accident occurs is critical, especially since you’re dealing with insurance companies that tend to make things complex. If you or your children were in a car accident, call the compassionate personal injury lawyer Steven Oser at (757) 539-4127.

replace car seat after an accident

What are Virginia’s Car Seat Laws?

The Commonwealth of Virginia is specific about its car seat safety laws. Children must ride in an age-appropriate child safety seat until their eighth birthday. Children under the age of two must ride in a rear-facing car seat until they reach age two or the minimum weight limit as stated by the car seat’s manufacturer.

·     Proper seat selection and use for a child must align with manufacturer instructions.

·     Rear-facing child restraint seats must be placed in a vehicle’s backseat.

·     In vehicles without a back seat, car seats can only be located in the front if the airbag is deactivated or none exists.

·     Children age eight must be belted correctly in vehicle safety seat belts.

·     Public transportation (including taxis), regulation school buses, and farm vehicles are exempted from car seats.

Restraint systems must be used properly as designated by manufacturers and meet Virginia’s Department of Transportation standards.

Do I Have to Replace a Car Seat After a Car Accident?

Both national and Virginia statistics indicate car seats do the job they are designed for when protecting babies, toddlers, and children when they are placed in the age-appropriate child safety restraint. What parents or guardians should do with the car seat after an accident depends on the collision’s severity. This has changed from earlier recommendations where new car seats should always be purchased even if a crash was minor.

Is a Child Safety Seat Ever Still Good After an Accident?  

There is no standard car seat accident replacement law. However, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends car seat replacement after being involved in moderate or severe crashes but may not necessarily need replacing after minor crashes. A minor car accident applies if ALL of the following criteria are met.

·     The vehicle was drivable after the crash.

·     The door nearest to the car seat suffered no damage.

·     No passengers in the car sustained injuries.

·     Airbags did not deploy.

·     No visible damage to the car seat.

Car seats involved in moderate to severe crashes should never be considered for reuse. Parents and guardians should always check with manufacturer instructions in the car seat manual or company website to see if replacement is recommended to maintain safety standards.

The following car seat manufacturers instruct consumers to follow NHTSA recommendations regarding minor, moderate, and severe crashes: Britax, Diono, Nuna, Orbit Baby, and UPPAbaby. The following manufacturers recommend the replacement of a car seat after an accident, regardless of severity: Chicco, Evenflo, Clek, Graco, Recaro, Cosco, Maxi Cosi, Cybex, and MiFold. Many experts recommend replacement either way.

Even if a child’s car seat was empty at the time of the crash, parents and guardians should always follow the manufacturer owner’s manual instructions since they may have a damaged car seat that occurred during crash forces and could lead to serious injuries in future vehicle crashes. Even in minor car accidents or if unsure of the manufacturer’s recommendation, err on the side of caution and seek a replacement.

Will Your Insurance Company Replace Your Booster Seat or Car Seat After a Crash?

Generally, most auto insurance will replace a car seat without question with an insurance claim if the seat was involved in a crash, but it is essential to check. Sometimes people must buy and submit their receipt for reimbursement from the car insurance company. Others are required to show the insurance company proof of manufacturer recommendations. Always check. Additionally, some manufacturers offer free car seat replacements after accidents.

What Do You Do With the Crashed Seat After You Replaced It?

Never give away, sell, or donate a child seat that was present in a collision. Instead, look for recycling programs or totally disassemble the car seat for disposal to ensure no one else tries to use it. Cut out straps and remove any parts that are detachable.

What Should I Do if My Child Was Injured in the Car Accident?

After a child experiences a car accident, after following recommendations from emergency personnel at the crash site, they should always be examined by a medical professional, regardless of the accident’s severity. If a car crashes with a motorcycle, truck, or another car, it should always be ruled out that no hidden injuries, such as traumatic brain injury, are present. Next, call a law firm specializing in personal injuries and car accidents.

Call a Virginia Car Accident Attorney Today

If you or your child were involved in a car crash, it is essential to consult with a car accident attorney immediately. Steven M. Oser, has been protecting and advocating for accident victims since 1989. He will successfully handle your case. Contact our law office at (757) 539-4127 or complete our online contact form for a free consultation and case evaluation.

 Sources:

1.   https://www.dmv.virginia.gov/safety/crash_data/crash_facts/crash_facts_20.pdf

2.   https://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/child_passenger_safety/cps-factsheet.html

3.   https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/child-passenger-safety/

4.   https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/child-passenger-safety/virginia-laws/

5.   https://www.verywellfamily.com/after-a-crash-should-babys-car-seat-be-replaced-293716

6.   https://www.nhtsa.gov/car-seats-and-booster-seats/car-seat-use-after-crash

7.   https://saferide4kids.com/blog/restraints-after-crash/