Car Accident Protocol: Replacing Your Child’s Car Seat

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends that car seats be replaced if your vehicle has been in a moderate or severe collision in order to ensure a continued high level of crash protection for young passengers. The safety of your child should not be compromised, therefore it is worth the time to discard your child’s car seat after the accident. If you are unsure about the severity of the collision and damage to vehicle, refer to your manufacturer’s instructions to retrieve the necessary information you need.

How to classify a moderate to severe car accident?

A moderate to severe crash is characterized by the following:

  • The car was not drivable after the collision
  • Someone was moderately to severely injured
  • The airbags were deployed during impact

Even if there appears to be little to no damage on the surface of the car seat, the forceful impact of the accident may have caused damage to the inside. This can compromise the safety and structure of the seat. As a reminder, we suggest NEVER using a car’s seat that has been involved in a moderate to severe crash.

Replace & Recycle:

When it comes to insurance, most companies will most likely, if not always replace your car seat.  When making a claim it may be helpful to have the receipt on had in order to get reimbursed. They also may need direct instructions from the manufacturer so keep the seat’s manual on hand. These extra precautions will only benefit your claim.

Once your claim with the insurance company is finished, consider recycling your old car seat. There is an organization called Ride 4 Kids which has an annual recycling drive. Multiple states participate in this. For more information you can reach out to your local fire or police department. The old seats are often used for training purposes or repurposed materials.

If you find yourself still unsure of what to do, consider throwing it away. If you do this, we suggest writing on the shell of the seat and making a note explaining that it is damaged. This is a helpful indicator for any potential persons who may be in desperate need of a seat. The goal is to prevent another child from being in danger during a collision. For more information on how to discard or replace your seat after a car accident, you can always refer to guidelines presented by The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.