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Do you need to replace your child safety seat after an accident?

While there are basic steps to take after any accident, those steps become more complex with kids, because you will probably want to get them checked for injury even if nothing is immediately apparent, and especially if the children are very young. Most of the time, you will also need to make sure your attempts to repair the damage to the vehicle include costs for a new child safety seat.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends child safety seats be replaced after every moderate or severe accident, but it does state that no replacement is needed in cases of a minor accident. If you are trying to figure out whether or not an accident qualified as a minor one, you need to make sure it fits every criterion covered by this checklist:

  • The vehicle can be driven away from the crash
  • The door nearest the car seat has sustained no damage
  • No passengers sustained injuries
  • No airbags deployed
  • You cannot see any damage to the car seat

If there is any deviation from these criteria, the recommendation is to replace the seat because unseen structural damage could still have weakened the frame of the safety seat.

Appropriate safety seat replacements

When selecting a new child safety seat, it is worth evaluating whether or not it is time to move up to a new child safety seat. WebMD recommends taking both the size and the age of the child into account, meaning that you will want to move up a size if your baby has grown faster than expected, and you may want to use smaller seats for longer in your child is not quite over the size expectations of the next seat upward.

The weight limits are as follows:

  • Rear-facing seats: Use until age 2 regardless of the baby's size.
  • Forward-facing safety seats: Use until the child is over 40 pounds and over 4 years old.
  • Booster seats: The recommendation here is that you use them until the child is 4 feet 9 inches or taller before transitioning to using just the safety belt.

By following the size recommendations rather than simple age recommendations, it is easier to find a child safety seat that will protect your young one in case of an accident. Even with a child safety seat, though, it is possible that accidents will lead to injuries. When that happens, it is worthwhile to consult with an attorney to discover whether or not you can collect compensation to help with the costs you incur.

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