Many parents save money by buying used items and getting hand-me-downs from friends and family. While this is generally safe when it comes to many clothes, toys, and furniture, it can potentially be dangerous when it comes to car seats.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends that parents replace their car seats “following a moderate or severe crash.” It notes that, “[c]ar seats do not automatically need to be replaced following a minor crash,” but also advises that parents should always err on the side of caution.
With this in mind, if you are thinking about getting a used car seat for your child, you need to try to determine if the car seat has been in an accident. If the car seat has been in an accident, or if you aren’t sure whether it has been in an accident, it will be best to look for another option.
Our Bakersfield car accident attorney has seen the devastation of serious traffic wrecks firsthand. Our firm is committed to helping accident victims recover the full and fair compensation they deserve for their injuries.
What Are the Risks of Installing a Car Seat That Has Been in an Accident?
Why should you avoid a car seat that has been through a moderate or severe (or potentially even minor) car accident? While car seats can last for years under normal circumstances, they aren’t necessarily designed to withstand the forces of an accident. Even if a car seat does its job and protects a child during a collision, it might suffer damage that prevents it from providing the same level of protection in a subsequent crash.
In this way, you can compare a car seat to a bicycle helmet or motorcycle helmet. You can expect it to do its job once, but you can’t necessarily expect it to do its job multiple times.
Ways To Tell if a Car Seat Has Been in an Accident
There are two primary ways that you can tell if a car seat has been in an accident:
1. Ask the Owner
If you are getting a used car seat from someone you know and trust (i.e. a friend or family member), you can simply ask if the car seat has been in an accident. However, if you are considering a used car seat from a thrift store or someone who is selling one online, you will have to consider whether you can trust the source of any information you are provided. In California, anyone who sells a car seat or booster seat that was involved in a motor vehicle accident may be fined one hundred dollars.
2. Look for Signs of Damage
When considering a used car seat, you can also look for signs of damage. Cracks and missing pieces should be red flags that a car seat is no longer safe for use. When examining a used car seat, pay particular attention to the areas around the belt attachment points and where the car seat gets attached to the car. Even hairline cracks in these areas can mean that the car seat’s integrity has been compromised.
If a Car Seat Looks Fine, Does That Mean it is Safe for a Child?
While you can look for obvious signs of damage in order to rule out a used car seat, even if a car seat looks fine, this does not necessarily mean that it is safe for your child. Examining a used car seat, even very carefully, won’t necessarily tell you whether it has been in an accident. If you have any concerns for any reason, you will want to look for another car seat— there are plenty of other options available.
Also, keep in mind that car seats have expiration dates. Even if a car seat has not been in an accident, it could still be too old and worn out to keep your child safe. Most car seats have an expiration date of six to 10 years from the date of manufacture. But, this is not a hard-and-fast rule. You can check a car seat’s expiration date by looking at its base or label, or, if the car seat has a serial number, you can contact the manufacturer.
Contact Bakersfield Car Accident Lawyer Mickey Fine
Bakersfield car accident lawyer Mickey Fine has more than 30 years of experience representing individuals and families who have suffered losses in serious and fatal vehicle collisions. If you have questions and would like to speak with Mr. Fine, call (661) 333-3333 today to schedule a free and confidential consultation.