Why You Should Replace Child Car Seats After a Car Accident

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  • Part 1 of 3: When do you need to replace a child car seat following an accident?
  • Part 2 of 3: Options for replacing a car seat
  • Part 3 of 3: How to dispose of a child car seat
Following a car accident, you should consider replacing your child car seat, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Like other forms of protective equipment, exposure to the forces of a crash can weaken the child safety seat and make it less effective in protecting a child in a subsequent crash. Whether you need to replace it or not depends, in part, on the severity of the accident.
In this article, Part 1 discusses the point at which you should replace a child car seat following an accident, Part 2 mentions the options you have for replacing it, and Part 3 explains what you should you do with the old car seat.

Part 1 of 3: When do you need to replace a child car seat following an accident?

Whether you need to replace a child car seat or not depends mainly on the severity of the accident. The following information details the different accident severity levels:
  • Minor car accident: In a minor accident, the car suffers minor damage, if any at all. Also in the instance of a minor accident, the door nearest the child car seat was not damaged, none of the car’s passengers sustained any injuries, and the airbags did not deploy. Most importantly, make sure the car seat itself shows no sign of visible damage. If it does, replace it.
  • Moderate car accident: Cars that suffer from a moderate accident usually exhibit large dents in the fender, hood, or doors. Doors that don’t open and deployed airbags represent just some of the things to look for with damage from a moderate accident. It is advised to replace a car seat after this type of accident.
  • Severe car accident: A severe accident usually means heavy damage to the car, including a bent or twisted frame, broken axles, major damage to the car’s body panels, and even injuries to the car occupants. In addition, the airbags always deploy in a severe car accident. Replace a car seat after this type of accident.

Part 2 of 3: Options for replacing a car seat

After you have had a moderate or severe accident in your car, you need to replace any child car seats in the car at the time of the crash. You have basically two options when doing so — buying a new one yourself or having your car insurance pay for a replacement seat.
  • Buy a new one: Buying a car seat yourself represents the simplest way to replace a child car seat.
This allows you to pick the exact car seat you want. Under no circumstances should you accept a used car seat from someone else since you have no idea for how long or in what situations the seat was used. .
  • Car insurance: Most car insurance companies replace a child car seat when a vehicle that they cover has a moderate or severe accident.
In addition, many car insurance companies don’t require that you buy the exact type of car seat you need to replace. So, you can buy a bigger car seat for a child about to outgrow the old one.

Part 3 of 3: How to dispose of a child car seat

In addition to replacing a child car seat with a new one, you also need to know how to dispose of the old car seat. Having a child get hurt using the old seat represents one of the worst things that could happen after an accident. To properly dispose of a car seat perform one of the following:
  • Take the old seat to a car seat recycling program.
  • Make the car seat unusable before throwing it away, including removing any detachable parts and cutting the restraining straps.
By properly replacing a child car seat following an accident, you ensure the safety of any child that rides in your car. And while you do not always need to replace a car seat following a minor accident, you should replace a car seat if your vehicle suffers a moderate or severe accident or if the car seat sustains any damage in a minor accident.

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