If you’ve recently been involved in a motor vehicle collision, you likely have dozens of questions about how to handle its aftermath. For example, regardless of whether your child was in the vehicle at the time of the collision or not, you are likely (and very understandably) concerned about whether you need to replace their child safety seat.
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. The route that you’ll need to take is going to be dependent on the severity of the crash in question and the guidance of the seat’s manufacturer.
Making your assessment
Essentially, you’re in a position to keep your current seat if two criteria are met. First, your accident must be classified as minor. Second, your seat’s manufacturer must provide guidance that it is safe to keep using the seat.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a car crash is considered minor if the following are true:
- There is no visible damage to the safety seat.
- There is no damage to the door closest to the safety seat.
- No one in the vehicle at the time of the collision was hurt.
- If the vehicle is outfitted with airbags, they didn’t deploy upon impact.
- The vehicle was intact enough to be driven away from the collision site.
These criteria apply regardless of whether your child was occupying their seat at the time of the crash or not. If all of those criteria apply to your crash, you’ll need to check with your seat’s manufacturer for guidance. Some manufacturers insist that their products don’t need to be replaced after a minor crash, and others draw the opposite conclusion.
If you do need to replace your child’s seat after an accident, don’t forget to include this cost in your insurance claim assessment concerning your losses.