You might look at your child's car seat following a motor vehicle collision and wonder: Is it safe to keep using this, or did the crash damage it and make unsafe? This is a question that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has offered guidance on, so you might want to refer to the NHTSA's recommendations about car seat safety and replacement following a vehicle crash.
The NHTSA says that in order to re-use a car seat following a collision, the following factors must be true:
- You could drive your car away from the scene of the crash. The vehicle did not need to be towed away. If it was towed away, then you should replace your child's car seat.
- The door in closest proximity to your child's car seat didn't get damaged. If the car seat wasn't close a door, use the door closest to the car seat for reference. If damage happened to that door, you'll want to replace the seat.
- The crash did not result in any injuries. Replace the car seat if any person suffered an injury.
- The airbags in your vehicle did not deploy. This includes all airbags: front, back and side. Replace the car seat if any airbags deployed.
- You don't see any kind damage on the seat. If damage is visible, replace it.
These five criteria are important for every parent to review after their vehicle was involved in a crash with the car seat inside. If any of the above are not true, then be sure to replace the car seat immediately. Also, you may want to investigate whether you can pursue a personal injury claim for financial damages, as a successful legal action could bring you money to pay for the car seat replacement and the costs associated with other damages, including the costs of your medical care.
Source: The Spruce, "Car Seat Replacement After an Accident - Re-Use Baby's Car Seat?," Heather Corley, accessed Dec. 22, 2017