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Should child safety seats be replaced after a wreck?

Those who were in an accident likely had their insurance company, or the insurance company of the at-fault driver, repair their vehicle according to their auto insurance coverage limits. But what about the child safety seat that was in the vehicle during the accident?

Unless the collision was extremely minor, it is highly likely that you will need to replace the car seats in order to ensure that they will still provide the same level of protection for your children.

According to criteria established by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the seats will need to be replaced as long as all below apply:

— The door closest to the car seat received no damage.

— You or someone else drove the car away from the scene of the accident.

— The driver and all passengers were uninjured.

— There is no damage visible to the safety seat and no air bags deployed during the crash.

Even if all of the above apply, some manufacturers strongly recommend that the safety restraints be replaced even after minor collisions. When in doubt, refer to the manual that came with the seat or go online and ask the manufacturer. You may need to upload a photo of the vehicle damage to get an accurate answer.

Some insurance companies will balk at replacing the safety seats unless the collision fell short of the NHTSA criteria. But insurance companies do not override the manufacturer’s recommendations and can’t make the guidelines apply when the seats must be replaced following any accidents.

If you are making a claim to your own or another insurance company, it will likely be necessary to include a copy of the car seat manual with your claim. Sometimes the manufacturer will agree to supply a letter that states the car seat needs to be replaced. Failing to include this replacement value in your claim means that you will be the one responsible for replacing it even if the wreck was not your fault.

It can be difficult to remember to include everything in your claim. Retaining a personal injury attorney who is experienced in handling such claims can make it an easier experience.

Source: Car Seats for the Littles, “Does my car seat need to be replaced after an accident?,” accessed May. 15, 2015

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