Yes, you should replace your child’s car seat after a crash. Considering that the force of a crash can bend the steel frame of a car, imagine the damage it can wield on a car seat constructed of lots of plastic and smaller metal parts.
A child’s car seat takes on the force of a car accident even when the seat is empty—and more so if the seat was occupied. You might not see the damage, but the device’s structural integrity might be weakened in ways you cannot see.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) echoes this concern by encouraging car owners to change their car seats after a moderate to severe collision. However, the organization specifies that you do not need to replace a car seat after a minor collision.
How to Determine if Your Collision Counts as a Minor Crash
According to NHTSA, a minor collision is one in which:
- The car seat does not appear to be damaged
- Airbags, if present in the vehicle, did not deploy
- Vehicle occupants were not injured
- The car door adjacent to the car seat did not sustain damage
- The car was in a condition to be driven from the accident site
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Other Things to Check for in Your Child’s Car Seat After a Crash
Although NHTSA recommendations specify that you do not need to replace your child’s car seat after a minor collision, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) suggests that the vehicle owner checks for signs of damage to the car seat that may otherwise go unnoticed.
For example, check for stretched belts and harnesses, metal components that are bent, plastic pieces of the car seat that are cracked. IIS also recommends that you set the car seat on a flat, even surface. Does it make complete contact with the surface, no twisting or tweaking? If not, the seat’s safety has been compromised, and it should be replaced.
Insurance Company Coverage of Your Child’s Car Seat After a Crash
Most insurance companies cover the cost of purchasing a new car seat for your child after a car accident. Generally, insurers like to go along with a manufacturer’s documented safety procedures. If you check the instruction manual for your child’s car seat, you will see that it specifies you should not use the car seat following a collision.
More than likely you discarded your car seat manually after you installed the seat in your car. You can still go online and download a copy to show to your insurance adjuster.
Furthermore, keep in mind that you do not have to replace the child’s car seat after a crash with the same model that was in the car crash. Possibly, your child has grown, and you were prepared to upgrade him or her to the next size model. The insurance companies are fine with this.
If, for whatever reason, your insurance company does not agree to pay for the replacement car seat, bite the bullet and buy a new one anyway. Your child’s safety is worth the expense.
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What to Do with Your Car Seat After You Have Replaced It
If you set your car seat out on the curb to be hauled off by the recycling collectors, be sure you render it as unusable as possible. Consider stripping all the fabric, belts, and straps and discard them in a separate bag.
With a permanent marker, write a clear warning, such as, “DAMAGED AND UNSAFE FOR USE.” These actions might prevent someone who’s driving by from picking up the curbside car seat and placing it in his or her own vehicle, unaware of its history.
- Some car seat manufacturers offer recycling programs that allow you to send back used car seats and receive a discount coupon toward another car seat purchase.
- Some people choose to repurpose their unusable car seats as dog or cat beds.
- You might find a safety organization or school that will accept the car seat to use in their training programs.
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Arizona Child Car Seat Laws
That state of Arizona enforces its laws requiring the use of a child safety restraint (CSR). The laws stipulate that children under the age of 4 must occupy a CSR (car seat). Children between the ages of five and seven years of age, and under 57 inches tall, must also be protected in cars using a CSR.
If You Suffered Injuries in an Arizona Car Accident, You Deserve to Be Compensated
The question of whether to replace your child’s car seat after a crash represents the general confusion and endless uncertainty that follows a traumatic event like a collision.
Chances are you or your child sustained injuries in the accident. Maybe you are missing work while you recover from the bodily damage. A car seat replacement is one of just a seemingly infinite number of costs you are having to consider—all while staying on top of your usual living expenses.
Let a car accident lawyer in Arizona relieve you of some of this burden. The team at Zanes Law will do everything from A to Z to answer your questions represent you aggressively and see that you are compensated.
Call our law firm today at 866-499-8989 for a free initial consultation.