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.
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 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 accident—even if the seat was empty during the accident.
A minor crash is one in which:
- You were able to drive the vehicle away from the accident;
- The vehicle door nearest the car seat was fully intact;
- The occupant space inside the vehicle was fully intact;
- The airbags didn’t deploy;
- There was 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.
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, according to Florida Statutes §316.613.
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 airbags pose to young passengers.
Have your CRS Checked to Ensure its Safety
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 replacing your child’s car set, that person—or their insurance company—may have responsibility for that and other accident-related costs. We must prove that:
- The other party should have acted in a way that kept you and your children safe
- The other party breached this obligation in some way
- Their breach caused your accident
- The accident caused you and/or your child’s injury and losses
If we can prove the above criteria and your expenses surpass your policy limits, we can help you seek a claim with the other party’s insurance. If we cannot settle through insurance, we can file a lawsuit on your behalf.
Additional Compensation You Could Recover From a Car Accident
If your child’s car seat was damaged, our Fort Lauderdale personal injury lawyers can help you seek compensation for it and any other damaged property. Some other losses we can help you recover compensation for include:
- Your and your child’s medical bills
- Your lost wages for the time spent recovering
- Your lost future earning capacity if you cannot return to your job
- Your and your child’s pain and suffering
- Disability and disfigurement
Act Within Florida’s Time Limit
Plaintiffs generally have four years from the date of their car accident to file a personal injury case in court, according to Florida Statutes §95.11(3)(a). Our Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyers can help you file your case within this time frame.
We work on a contingency-fee-basis. This means we can help you file your case on time, and we won’t take a penny until we win you an award.
The Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine Сan Help With Your Case
If you are not certain who was at fault, the Law Offices 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 for your free consultation to speak to a team member.
We Can Help.