If you happen to be involved in a car accident in Bakersfield, whether it’s serious or minor, there is a good chance your child’s car seat may need to be replaced. While some car seats follow NHTSA’s criteria for reuse after a minor crash, and may not need to be replaced after a minor collision, most will need to be replaced after ANY collision. Always consult the manual that came with your child restraint, and if you’re still uncertain, contact the manufacturer.
Does a Car Seat Need to Be Replaced After a Car Accident?
The NHTSA recommends that “child safety seats be replaced following a moderate or severe crash to ensure a continued high level of crash protection for child passengers.” The NHTSA does state that child safety seats do not automatically need to be replaced following a minor crash. Minor crashes meet ALL of the following criteria according to the NHTSA:
- The vehicle was able to be driven away from the site of the accident;
- 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.
It is important to clarify whether or not a car seat needs to be replaced. This will reduce the number of children riding without a child safety seat while a replacement seat is being acquired. It will also lessen the number of children riding in a car seat that needs to be replaced.
Will My Insurance Replace a Car Seat After an Accident?
If you believe that your child’s car seat(s) meet the manufacturer’s requirements and NHTSA’s for replacement, then you should pursue replacement through your car insurance company due to California being a fault (tort)-state. Insurance companies in California are obligated by law to replace occupied seats. The California requirements may be useful leverage even outside of the state, especially if your insurance company also operates in multiple states.
Most insurance companies are very proactive about covering crashed seats regardless of the manufacturer or crash details. Some, unfortunately, may not be as on top of things. An insurance company may instruct you to purchase a replacement seat and submit the receipt for reimbursement. It is important that you clarify what your insurance company will cover before buying a new car seat.
How do I Dispose of a Car Seat After an Accident?
Some people may be tempted to re-use or sell your crashed car seat at a yard sale, eBay, Craigslist, etc. It is important that you try and prevent this by removing the cover, cutting the harness, and writing “CRASHED – NOT SAFE TO USE!!” on the seat’s shell.
You can go the extra mile by discarding various parts in trash bags over several weeks of trash pickups and recycling the plastic shell and other plastic parts. Insurance companies may ask you to turn in your damaged car seat. Ideally, you would take the seat apart and prevent reuse.
If the replacement car seat you receive is the same model as your old one, you can save the old seat’s cover as a spare. If the car seat was unoccupied at the time of the crash, you might want to keep the internal harness as a spare if your new seat is the same model. If the seat was occupied during the crash, however, then definitely cut up and discard the harness.
Car Accident Attorney
At The Law Offices of Mickey Fine, we genuinely care about the safety of your family. We have presented the material above as a tool to make sure that you take the proper steps with a damaged car seat after a car accident. If you have recently been involved in a car accident that damaged your child’s car seat, act now and contact our car accident attorneys in Bakersfield, so we can discuss providing you legal representation in your case.