The trauma experienced by car accident victims where child passengers were involved in the crash is significant. Parents or caregivers may be so relieved that their child was not seriously harmed that they fail to think about replacing the child’s car seat after the accident.
In the United States, a child is involved in a car crash every 25 seconds. Data reveals that more than 500 children per day are injured in car accidents. However, car seats can reduce the risk of fatal injury by 71% for infants and 54% for toddlers. After a car accident, the expense of replacing a child’s car seat may be able to be claimed through an insurance company.
If your child has been involved in a car crash, you must contact the personal injury lawyers at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form today for immediate legal advice and schedule a free consultation.
Our product liability attorneys can help you claim compensation for your medical expenses and property damages, including a damaged car seat. We work on a contingency fee basis, so you don’t have to pay us unless we recover money for you.
Illinois Laws Regarding the Use of Car Seats
Illinois’ Child Passenger Protection Act requires that all children under the age of 8 be properly secured in an appropriate child restraint or safety seat.
Car Seat Safety Guidelines
Parents and adult drivers should adhere to these car safety guidelines to ensure that children traveling in the car are as safe as possible.
- Infants and toddlers age 2 and under should use a rear-facing car seat
- Children ages 2 to 5 should use a forward-facing car seat
- Any children ages 5 and up should use a booster child seat
- If a standard seat belt fits properly without the use of a booster seat, a child should wear the standard belt
- Make sure that you install and use car seats properly, following the manufacturer’s instructions
- Seat older children in the back seat if possible
- Position children in the middle of the back seat if possible
How does a Crash Impact Child Car Seats?
It may be assumed that a car seat only needs to be replaced after a major crash, and parents may be concerned about the cost of a replacement and attempt to save money. However, even minor crashes can cause damage to a child seat or booster seat. Surprisingly, even a vehicle with an empty car seat buckled into the vehicle with a seat belt will still experience crash forces that can cause damage.
The force of a child’s car seat moving forward from the impact of a rear collision or strike to a vehicle door can cause damage to the lower anchor strap or tether strap (car seat’s straps). The damage may not be visible, but the integrity of the straps may be compromised and prevent the car seat from protecting the child in a future crash.
NHTSA Recommendations on Car Seat Replacement
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends that parents replace child safety seats after being involved in a moderate or severe crash. It is the best and only way to ensure a high level of crash protection for children on board.
The only time that the NHTSA suggests that replacing car seats is not necessary is after a minor crash.
NHTSA Crash Criteria for a Minor Crash
The NHTSA has clear instructions on what does and does not constitute a minor crash.
According to the NHTSA, only those crashes that meet ALL of the following criteria are classified as minor crashes.
- There is no visible damage to the safety seat, including the webbing, top tether stitching, or broken pieces of plastic.
- The airbags (if present) did not deploy. It includes all airbags (front, side, seat, and knee bolster) in the vehicle.
- There were no injuries to any of the vehicle occupants
- The vehicle door nearest to the car seat was undamaged
- It was possible to drive the vehicle away from the crash site. If the vehicle needed to be towed or removed from the crash scene, the car seat should be replaced.
Requirements of Car Seat Manufacturers
Most car seat manufacturers advise that a car seat must be replaced after an accident.
For example, the car seat manufacturer of the Chicco KeyFit 30 infant car seat states;
“You MUST replace this Child Restraint if it has been involved in a crash, even if you cannot see visible damage. A damaged Child Restraint may not protect your child in a future crash.”
When purchasing a new car seat, or a replacement car seat, it is important to retain the car seat manual and car seat manufacturer’s instructions to ensure compliance with the policy for insurance purposes.
The Importance of Replacing a Car Seat After an Accident
According to the National Safety Council, car accidents are one of the leading causes of death for children. In one year alone, 608 children in the United States under 13 were killed in car accidents. Of those 608 children, 206 were sadly not protected by a child safety seat.
Car seats are crucial in keeping children safe from harm and serious injuries in car crashes. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that child restraints such as child seats and booster seats reduce the risk of deadly injuries by 71% for infants and 54% for toddlers, provided the children are traveling in passenger cars.
Who Pays for a Seat Replacement After a Moderate or Severe Crash?
Generally, the responsibility of payment for a replacement child car seat or child restraint after a crash falls to the insurance company. Most insurance companies are compliant in providing payment for crashed seats and replacing car seats promptly.
However, it is important to obtain the assistance of an auto accident attorney to guarantee the insurance claim is handled appropriately and to ensure that the insurance company replaces the child’s car seat with an appropriate new car seat in a timely manner.
Do Illinois Car Insurers Have to Pay to Replace Damaged Car Seats?
Illinois car insurers are required to cover the entire cost of a child’s car seat after a car accident. Under the Illinois Insurance law code (215 ILCS 5/143.32), the insurer must include coverage for the replacement of a car seat that a child was using at the time of the crash.
Whose Insurance Agency is Responsible for Replacement?
Illinois follows a “fault” system regarding liabilities for injuries and damages that result from a car accident. The driver who is at fault in a car accident that results in any crash damage or serious injury is responsible for the compensation owed to the injury victims.
It means that the liable driver’s insurance company will be responsible for any child restraints or car seats that need to be replaced and will have to provide compensation to purchase a new car seat.
What to Do After a Car Accident Involving a Car Seat?
A child’s car seat may not be the first thing on your mind when you have a car accident. Whether a severe crash or a minor car accident, it is important to assess if the car seats need to be replaced.
Steps You Need to Take to Replace the Car Seat
Car crashes and minor collision sites involving passenger cars or light trucks can be chaotic. Still, it is important to take the time to examine car seats at the crash site to assess if they need to be replaced and gather evidence to be used in insurance claims.
Steps you can take to gather evidence for your claim to replace a car seat after a crash include;
- Take photos of the damaged seat after a crash
- Examine the manufacturer’s instructions for the car seat use
- Gather any receipts or proof of purchase for the car seats
- Take photos of the car seat’s serial number
How Do I Claim Compensation?
If your child has been involved in a car crash, you must contact Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form today for immediate legal advice and schedule a free consultation.
You must engage a professional auto injury lawyer to fight for a fair settlement and the compensation you deserve.
Our auto accident attorneys can help you claim compensation for your medical expenses and property damages, including a damaged car seat. We work on a contingency fee basis, so you don’t have to pay us unless we recover money for you.
All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team remains private through an attorney-client relationship.