Car seats protect your child through one major impact—and no more.
If you experience a crash even as mild as a fender bender, your child’s car seat could sustain damage, potentially rendering it unable to protect your child in a future accident. Unfortunately, the damage may not be readily apparent or even visible.
Child restraint experts advise that, in most cases, you should replace your child’s car seat after a crash. Although the safety restraint device may retain its protective structure after a crash, there is no reliable or scientific way to verify its continued ability to protect your child.
If you were in a car accident, contact the Law Firm of Anidjar & Levine. We can help you understand what to do next and recover financial compensation for your damaged property. Call 800-747-3733 for a free consultation.
What Factors Indicate the Need to Replace a Child’s Car Seat?
After a crash, parents should consider the severity of the incident when deciding whether to replace their child restraint system (CRS). According to Parents Central, the child safety arm of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a CRS may be reusable after a minor crash. They advise never to reuse a CRS after a moderate to severe crash—even if the seat was empty at the time of the accident. A minor crash is one in which:
- You were able to drive the vehicle away from the crash;
- The vehicle door nearest the car seat was fully intact;
- The occupant space inside the vehicle was fully intact;
- The airbags did not deploy;
- No visible damage to the CRS is evident;
- No child in a CRS sustained injuries; and
- No other passenger in the vehicle sustained injuries.
Even after a minor crash, the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) recommends that parents look for damage to the CRS, such as:
- Cracked plastic parts;
- Bent metal parts; and
- Stretched harnesses or belts.
Most importantly, place the CRS on a flat, level surface and verify that it makes full contact with the surface and that no twisting or tweaking is present.
Why Do Children Need Car Seats?
The NHTSA reports that vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children between age one and age 13. Consequently, choosing the right car seat is the most effective way to protect kids from injury during a vehicle crash.
In Florida, state law also mandates that children ride in car seats.
What Are the Florida Child Car Seat Laws?
Florida law requires every driver to use a federally approved car seat for infants and children age five and under.
However, the NHTSA recommends that drivers always use a car seat for kids who have not yet reached the manufacturer’s stated maximum height or weight limit. Although the law does not require this, the NHTSA also recommends that kids age 12 and under should always ride in the back seat, due to the danger air bags pose to young passengers.
To ensure you are using your CRS correctly, you can have a car seat checkup performed. Despite what you may have heard from other parents, however, you should not just show up at the fire station or police station to have your car seat checked.
Instead, you need to find a certified child passenger safety (CPS) technician. Many firefighters, police officers, nurses, and first responders are CPS certified—but not all are—so check first, just to be sure.
Who Should Be Responsible for Replacing Your Child’s Car Seat?
If the incident was your fault and you have insurance, you may want to submit a claim to your carrier. You can include the cost of replacing your car seat along with other property damage losses.
However, if someone else’s negligence caused a car crash severe enough to warrant replacement of your child’s car set, that person—or their insurance company—may have responsibility for that and other accident-related costs.
If you are not certain who was at fault, the Law Firm of Anidjar & Levine would be happy to consult with you at no charge. We will listen to the details of the incident and help you determine if you should pursue legal action.
Call us today at 800-747-3733 to schedule your free consultation or speak to one of our Florida car accident lawyers.