Car accidents can be terrifying and stressful, and when you receive injuries and property damage, it makes the whole ordeal worse. Add a child into this equation, and everything becomes more terrifying for you, even if the car received little to no damage. At this point, you might be concerned and wondering how durable a car seat will be and if you will need to replace it following an accident. Keep reading to see how long a car seat can be used, and do not hesitate to contact the personal injury attorneys at HawkLaw, P.A. if your child was involved in a car accident.
Following an accident, a common concern is whether or not a car seat is still good or should be replaced. The answer to this essential question will depend on the severity of the crash, the condition of the car, and the damage to the car seat itself.
The NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) previously recommended that you replace a car seat after any type of accident. However, that recommendation is now modified. You only need to replace a child’s car seat after being involved in a moderate or severe car crash.
In addition, the NHTSA guidelines recommend you review the manufacturer’s instructions or guide that came with your particular child safety seat and follow their recommendations as to whether to replace it or not after any type of crash. If you cannot find this information, either call the car seat manufacturer’s consumer information service line or search for them online. Make sure you have the model name and number for the car seat you own.
If your child is injured in an accident while in the car seat, consult with a South Carolina car accident attorney to determine if you are eligible to make a claim for compensation to cover medical costs and any other additional losses, including a damaged child safety seat.
The NHTSA says a car seat is still usable after a minor car accident such as a fender bender if, and only if, all the following criteria are met:
Were you able to start up your car following the accident and drive away from the crash site?
Was the door closest to where your child sat in the car seat undamaged or uncompromised at the time of the accident?
When examining the car seat, do you find any signs of visible damage?
Did anyone in your vehicle (children or adults) sustain any mild, moderate, or serious injury as a result of the crash?
Does your vehicle have airbags? If so, did those airbags not deploy at the time of the crash?
Some auto insurance agencies will reimburse you for the replacement cost of a new car seat following an accident as long as you file a claim with them. Even an empty child seat may be replaced with reimbursement after vehicle crashes.
As a non-permanent item within your vehicle, its replacement will either fall under the comprehensive or collision coverage of your car insurance. Check with each insurance company to determine how to go about obtaining reimbursement for the new car seat replacement.
You will also need to stay aware of the South Carolina laws pertaining to car seats and child restraint. For children under two years old, you must use a rear-facing car seat, also called an infant car seat safety device. Continue to use this type of car seat until your child exceeds the specified height or weight limit provided by the manufacturer for your particular one. You can then use front-facing and then booster seat options for your car seat needs.
Just like other products in the marketplace, car seats do come with expiration dates. Typically, the expiration date is six years from the date it was manufactured. You should be able to find an official sticker on the car seat which lists the manufacturer along with the exact expiration date. If not, check the car seat manual.
The reasons for the setting of an expiration date include the wear and tear on the seats throughout the years, ongoing research and information on how to better protect children against crash forces, and an expectation of new technology and design. Some may also deteriorate on their own or wear in parts where a seat belt holds it in place.
So, yes, car seats do have expiration dates. However, if you get into a car accident, it might be time to replace your car seat sooner than the date it expires and is deemed no longer safe for use. Much will depend on the severity of the accident. Even if you were only in a minor crash, you may have concerns about the car seat’s continuing safety features. If so, replace it with a new car seat not only for safety reasons but also for peace of mind.
If you plan on throwing the damaged car seat away after a moderate to severe crash, even if it does not look compromised, it is best to either dismantle it or mark it in a way so others know that this car seat is no longer a safe and viable option for their child.
Use a permanent marker to write on it to deter people from picking it up from where you dispose of it or trying to reuse it. A better option, if possible, is to take the car seat apart and throw the pieces away separately. The goal is to make it unusable, thus preventing anyone else from taking the risk.
When it comes to your children, you want to keep them safe. One way to do that is to ensure they are safely strapped into a child passenger safety seat whenever traveling. Yet, sometimes that car seat may be to blame for your child’s injuries. If this happens to you, the law firm of HawkLaw. P.A. is here to help. We will closely review your case to determine your rights going forward and fight for any compensation you so rightfully deserve.
Request a free consultation* today by calling 888-HAWKLAW or filling out our online contact form to connect with one of our experienced personal injury lawyers.
"*" indicates required fields