Should I Replace My Child’s Car Seat?

A Part of the Georgia Car Damage Manual: How to Get Your Car Repaired or Paid-as-Totaled after an Accident

Most child car seat manufacturers state that the seat should be replaced, even after a minor crash. This is true regardless of whether or not the child was in the seat at the time of the collision. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends that car seats be replaced following a moderate or severe crash, and provides criteria for defining a minor crash in which the seat may not need to be replaced. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for whether you can safely re-use a car seat after a crash.

The at-fault driver’s insurance should cover the cost of a replacement car seat. You will likely need to purchase a new car seat, save the receipt, and submit this documentation for reimbursement as part of your property damage claim. You are not required to replace the car seat with the exact same model. If the insurance company is not willing to cover the replacement car seat, show them the instruction manual for your child’s car seat where it states that the seat should not be re-used after an accident. Most manufacturers make their instruction manuals available online. Finally, it is a good idea to dispose of the old seat in a way that ensures that no one else will attempt to re-use the compromised seat, such as writing “Not Safe, Do Not Use” in permanent marker on the seat before disposing of it.

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