If you’re dealing with the aftermath of a car crash, you may or may not be considering whether your child’s car safety or booster seat needs to be replaced. If your child wasn’t in the car at the time of the crash and the seat shows no signs of damage, you may not give it much thought. However, what if it was damaged in some way that’s not readily apparent?
The first source to consult is the car seat manufacturer. Some manufacturers state that the seat should be replaced after any crash. You can find your manufacturer’s guidelines in the owner’s manual or online. If you can’t, call them directly.
The NHTSA guidelines
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) advises replacing seats after anything more serious than a minor crash as long as the “minor” crash meets these criteria:
- The seat was not visibly damaged.
- The door closes to the seat wasn’t damaged.
- No one in the vehicle was injured.
- No air bags deployed (if the vehicle has them).
- The vehicle was drivable immediately after the crash.
Studies have shown that in some cases where damage to a child car seat is visible, it still can do its job of protecting a child. However, you don’t want to take any chances with that. For that reason, you shouldn’t give a car seat that’s been in a crash to a charity thrift shop or anyone else. It should be taken apart so that no one else can use it.
Insurance reimbursement for a new seat
Insurance companies typically will reimburse you for the cost of a new seat regardless of how serious the crash was and whether it suffered obvious damage. It doesn’t have to be the same type of seat. If your child is ready for a larger size seat, you can generally buy the size you need.
A replacement car seat is just one of the things that you need to factor in when seeking compensation from an insurance company or at-fault driver after a crash. Don’t agree to a settlement until you know the full extent of your injuries and damages.