If you have been involved in a car accident, you may be wondering whether it is safe to continue using your child’s safety seat or if it is necessary to replace it with a new one. The answer to this question depends on a variety of factors and may not always be immediately clear.
Car seat damage is not always obvious
Even if the seat appears to be undamaged, the forces involved in the crash may have caused invisible damage to the materials it is constructed from, thus weakening it and potentially limiting its ability to protect your child in the event of another crash. When in doubt, it may be best to err on the side of replacing your child’s car seat.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends that you replace your child’s car seat after being involved in any moderate or severe car accident. This helps to make sure that your child continues to be kept as safe as possible if another crash occurs.
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Replacement not always necessary after a minor crash
After a minor crash, however, it is not always necessary to purchase a replacement child safety seat. According to NHTSA recommendations, a child car seat does not need to be replaced after a minor crash if all of the following conditions are met:
- The child safety seat is not visibly damaged.
- The vehicle’s occupants were not injured.
- The airbags were not activated.
- The vehicle could be driven away from the accident scene.
- The door next to the child safety seat was not damaged.
If one or more of the above conditions is not met, the NHTSA recommends that the child safety seat be replaced with a new one in order to ensure continued protection.
Why are child safety seats necessary?
Children are more vulnerable to crash-related injuries than adults due to their small size and general fragility, but that is not the only reason why child safety seats are necessary to keep kids safe. Children’s bones are also softer and more easily broken than those of adults, and their muscles are not as strong. Additionally, children have larger heads in proportion to the rest of their bodies, which, along with weaker neck muscles, increases the risk of whiplash and other soft-tissue injuries if the head is jerked back and forth by a sudden stop or impact.
Child safety seats protect children from injury in the following ways:
- Keeping the child in place
- Absorbing and safely redistributing the force of impact from a crash
- Preventing the child from being thrown out the vehicle or against the vehicle’s interior
- Protecting the child from being struck or crushed by other passengers
Booster seats provide similar protections for older children by elevating them and allowing the vehicle’s built-in seat belts to be positioned correctly and safely.
Get help covering costs when a child is injured
When a child is injured in a motor vehicle accident, the resulting financial challenges can make an already difficult situation even worse. To learn about the possibility of pursuing compensation to offset the medical costs, lost wages, rehabilitative care and other expenses you are likely to incur if your child has been hurt in a crash, contact the skilled personal injury lawyers at Berger and Green for a free no obligation consultation.