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Should You Replace Your Child’s Car Seat After a Crash?

Young parents in Texas dealing with all the expenses of raising a child may wonder whether it is necessary to replace a child’s car seat after a car accident.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which enforces vehicle safety standards to reduce injuries and deaths from motor vehicle accidents, recommends replacing a child’s car seat after a moderate or severe crash.

There’s no need to replace a child’s car seat after a minor crash, according to NHTSA. The agency defines a minor car accident as one in which ALL of the following apply:

  • The vehicle could be driven away from the crash site.
  • The vehicle door nearest the car seat was not damaged.
  • None of the passengers in the vehicle sustained any injuries in the crash.
  • The air bags did not deploy during the crash.
  • The car seat shows no visible damage.

NHTSA also recommends following the car seat manufacturer’s instructions. If your child’s car seat manufacturer says to replace the seat after any crash (even a minor one), then you should do so.

If you no longer have instructional material that came with a car seat, search online with the manufacturer’s name, model name of the car seat and model number. Many manufacturers publish user manuals online. The manufacturer may also have a consumer information phone number that you can use to ask questions.

If you or your child has been injured in a car accident in the McAllen, Texas, area that someone else caused, contact a McAllen car accident attorney at Herrman & Herrman, P.L.L.C. You may be eligible to seek compensation for your medical expenses and other losses, including a damaged car seat.

Hidalgo County Car Crash Statistics

There were more than 15,300 car accidents in Hidalgo County in 2019, according to the Texas Department of Transportation. Most were minor collisions with no injuries reported. But thousands of crashes did cause injuries, and 41 fatal accidents resulted in 44 deaths.

No doubt, countless car accident injuries to young children in McAllen and Hidalgo County have been averted because the children were protected by properly installed child safety car seats and older children and adults were secured by seat belts.

Under Texas law, all children younger than 8 years old, unless taller than 4’9”, are required to be secured in the appropriate child safety seat system when they ride in a passenger vehicle. The safety seat system must be installed according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Are Child Car Seats Safe After An Accident?

Previously, NHTSA recommended replacing a child’s car seat after any accident. However, the agency’s recommendations have been modified as described above.

An article on the Very Well Family blog refers to NHTSA guidelines and says, “Even an empty car seat that was buckled into the vehicle will experience crash forces. The force of the car seat moving forward and being held back by the lower anchor strap or tether strap can cause damage that may be invisible but might keep the car seat from doing its job if you’re in another crash.”

It quotes the user manual for the Graco Snug Ride Classic Connect 35 infant car seat, which says, “Replace the infant restraint and base after an accident of any kind. An accident can cause damage to the infant restraint that you may not be able to see.”

Many other car seat manufacturers refer to the five NHTSA criteria that we have listed above for determining whether you should continue to use a car seat after a crash.

The article says NHTSA’s guidelines were changed because the expense of a new car seat caused some parents to replace theirs by buying a used child seat. There is no way to tell whether such a seat is damaged. This includes local car seat inspections, such as those offered by the Texas Department of Public Safety or the City of McAllen’s Traffic Operations department.

Local car seat inspections offered to the public can help you make sure a car seat is installed correctly, but no one can look at your car seat and certify that it remains safe to use after a crash.

Some car insurance companies will reimburse policyholders for some or all of the cost of a new car seat after an accident. Ask about this when you report the accident to your insurer.

What To Do After A McAllen Car Accident With A Child In The Vehicle

If your child is in the car with you and you get into an accident, your first instinct will be to check on your child’s health.

Most young children will cry in the immediate aftermath of a car accident. However, this is not necessarily a sign of injury. You should try to comfort your child and check for signs of injury, but not immediately remove him or her from the car seat. The restraints and structure of the car seat may stabilize certain injuries.

Unless it is necessary to avoid further danger, you should wait for an emergency responder to remove a child from their car seat following an accident.

Once EMTs are on the scene, follow their advice about going to the emergency room. If you do not go to the hospital right away, you should both see a doctor within 24 hours to ensure that you have not been injured. There are serious injuries a doctor may identify, including traumatic brain injury, that do not exhibit symptoms right away.

As you await help, there are other steps to take after a car accident in Texas.

How Our McAllen Car Accident Attorneys Can Help

Our McAllen car accident lawyers help individuals and families seek compensation after serious accidents that some other person or entity has caused. Our attorneys at Herrman & Herrman have successfully resolved thousands of cases, mostly through aggressive negotiations with insurance companies.

If you do not have an attorney’s assistance, an auto insurance company will try to pay you less than you deserve for a car accident claim, especially a claim that involves serious injury. Greg Herrman and the car accident attorneys at Herrman & Herrman, P.L.L.C. will seek justice for you. If you have been seriously injured in a car accident that was not your fault in the McAllen, TX, area, contact Herrman & Herrman at (361) 882-4357 or online for a free, no-obligation legal consultation today.