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Car Seat Replacement Guidelines

Steve Wagner

We are big on car seat safety here at Wagner Reese, and we want to help you find the best tools out there to make sure your little ones are safe on our busy and dangerous roadways.

Last week we gave you a new tool from Parents Central that allows you to search for the best seats based on your child’s height and weight.

Today, we want to help you analyze whether your seat is safe once it’s been in an accident. Common car seat knowledge says that a car seat should be discarded once it has been in an accident, but you may not have to trash it just because you had a minor fender bender according to the NHTSA.

Directly from the NHTSA, here are the guidelines for determining whether or not your seat is safe to continue using after you’ve had an accident:

  • NHTSA recommends that child safety seats be replaced following a moderate or severe crash in order to ensure a continued high level of crash protection for child passengers.
  • NHTSA recommends that child safety seats do not automatically need to be replaced following a minor crash.
  • Minor crashes are those that meet ALL of the following criteria:
    • The vehicle was able to be driven away from the crash site;
    • The vehicle door nearest the safety seat was undamaged;
    • There were no injuries to any of the vehicle occupants;
    • The air bags (if present) did not deploy; AND
    • There is no visible damage to the safety seat
  • Clarifying the need for child seat replacement will reduce the number of children unnecessarily riding without a child safety seat while a replacement seat is being acquired, and the number of children who will have to ride without a child seat if a seat were discarded and not replaced. The clarification will also reduce the financial burden of unnecessary replacement.

Even if you did just have a minor accident, we can’t stress the “no visible damage” part of those guidelines enough. Give the car seat more than a once-over. Remove the cover, examine the parts, make sure all of the hooks, buckles, straps, and pieces are still in good, working order, that nothing is cracked or broken, and that the seat functions as it is supposed to, and have a professional look over the car seat! Remember that even a crack in the plastic can reduce the seat’s ability to properly absorb an impact and protect your child.

Wagner Reese – Car Accident Attorneys

Help us protect your little ones by taking car seat guidelines and recommendations seriously. We know car seats can be a big expense, but aren’t they much less costly than an injury or the loss of your child? If your child has been injured because of a faulty seat, or because of the negligence of another driver, the child injury attorneys at Wagner Reese are here to assist you. Call us at (888) 204-8440 to schedule your free consultation.


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