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We don’t see when car crashes are about to occur. Usually, when we are put in a situation as such, we forget what to do, especially if there are kids present in the vehicle. Car crashes are one of the leading death and injury for children. Thankfully, by wearing seatbelts and being in an appropriate car seat for your child, the risk of a serious injury is diminished dramatically. Here are a few tips to remember when you’re in a car crash with a child present:

What to do after a car crash? 

No one expects to be in a car accident- that’s why they are accidents. Most people believe they know what to do next until it happens to them. Having an accident can be scary, but it is important to keep a level head to protect your health and rights. If you do end in an accident, take a deep breath, try to remain calm, and follow these steps:

Check for Injuries

The most important step is to make sure that you and your passengers are safe. Are you hurt or in danger? If you have children present in the vehicle, don’t remove them from their seat unless it’s necessary for their safety. If you see that your children are hurt, call 911, and wait for assistance. 

Get to safety

Once you have checked-in with yourself and your passengers- if you’re able to, move your vehicle to a nearby parking lot, driveway so you can get out safely. If you’re unable to move your vehicle, move away as much as you can from traffic to a place where you are visible to other drivers. 

Inspect your car- and car seat-before continuing on the road

Before hitting the highway, there are steps to take before you can get back on the road safely. You should check your safety features are functioning correctly. This means to check that your lights, including headlights, are working fine, no fluids are leaking from your vehicle, or loose parts that can be a danger to other vehicles when driving. 

If you were in a significant crash, it is in your best interest to replace your car seat or booster seat, even if your child wasn’t occupying it during the crash time. There could be damage to the car seat that isn’t visible to the naked eye.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends replacing a child safety seat that has been involved in a moderate to a severe accident. Even if the collision was minor, where no one was injured, and airbags didn’t deploy, it’s still important to check on the booster seat. The NHTSA defines a minor crash as: 

  • The vehicle must be able to drive away from the crash site.
  • The vehicle door near the safety seat was undamaged.
  • There were no injuries to any of the vehicle occupants.
  • The airbags, if present, didn’t deploy; AND
  • There is no visible damage to the safety seat. 

However, if your vehicle and car seats don’t match all five criteria, your car seat should be replaced. If you have two car seats in the car, you may only need to replace one while the other doesn’t. For example, if one car seat is close to a damaged door, but the other side wasn’t damaged, then only the one closest to the damaged door will need to be replaced. 

When should I replace a car seat?

After a car crash, some people will take their car seats to a police station or a fire station to ensure it is safe. However, crash damage isn’t visible to the naked eye. 

The best way to think about why you should replace your car seat even if the damage isn’t visible is by thinking that if the damage could be done t the frame of the car that is made out of steel, what makes us think that a car seat made out of plastic won’t be damaged?

A recommendation to identify any signs of damage is to place the car seat on a flat surface. If it doesn’t make full contact with the surface, it shouldn’t be a question of replacing it. 

What does the manufacturer say about a replacement?

Most seats must be replaced after a car crash, especially if you were in a major crash, even if no child was riding in it at the time. Some, however, may be resued after a minor crash. You can find this information in your car seat’s annual, and if you’re still doubtful, you can always contact the manufacturer of your seat for clarification. 

Will my insurance pay to replace a car seat?

Car seats are expensive, and after an accident, you don’t need another expense added. Although not all insurance companies will cover the cost of a new car seat, some will. Depending on your specific policy and agreement with your insurance company, the auto insurance company may replace the car seats for no additional costs. In most cases, all you will need is a copy of the accident report and a receipt for the purchase of a new seat. 

If the auto insurance seems reluctant to cover the costs, you can show the seat manufacturer’s manual that recommends replacing a car seat after an accident. 

At The Carlson Law Firm, we care

Here at The Carlson Law Firm, we understand that lives can change in the blink of an eye. If you or a loved one has been involved in an auto crash that resulted in an injury, contact us today to discuss your situation with a personal injury attorney. 

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