Car seat safety and what happens after a car accident

In 2019, more than 91,000 children, aged 12 and under, were injured in a car accident. What can save children from car accident death, and even severe injuries, is their car seat. However, having a car seat in your car, and your child in it, isn’t enough. The seat must be installed correctly. The seat must be appropriate for the age/weight/height of the child. The child must be properly buckled into the seat.

When all three of these safety car seat components are met, a car seat accident becomes a much safer situation for the kids in the car.

The three types of car seats

There are three types of car seats you’ll use throughout the early years of your child’s life. They start in a rear facing seat, which keeps them securely in place with a harness-style buckle. A crash cradle will move with your child during an accident to further protect their neck and back. Rear-facing seats are most securely installed into your car using the LATCH system.

From there, a child grows into a forward-facing seat. Also designed with a harness, this seat keeps your toddler secure while giving them the extra leg room they now need. Forward-facing car seats should also connect with the LATCH system for extra security within the car.

As your child rounds out their years needing a car seat at all, you’ll put them in a booster. This seat uses the seatbelt to secure your child in the car. It essentially raises them up high enough so the seatbelt falls properly across their hips and chest.

Each car seat has installation instructions as well as instructions on how to properly buckle your child in. Reading these instructions is essential to using the seat in the right way to protect your kids.

Getting your seat checked by a professional

If you ever run into an issue with installing your car seat properly, or just want a second pair of eyes to check things out, reach out to your local fire department station. If they have child passenger safety (CPS) technicians on duty, they’ll be able to assist you.

Not every firehouse has a CPS technician, so you definitely need to call first, but when available, they can install your car seat for free. Not only that, these certified CPS technicians stay up-to-date on many child passenger safety laws and can educate you on the best way to keep your children safe in your car.

Where to put the car seats

All car seats belong in the back seat of the car. The backseat should have both lower LATCH anchors tucked in with the seat belt clasps, as well as a rear anchor either at the back of the seat or on the ceiling of the car.

The middle seat is the preferred location in the back when placing a car seat, however it’s not always ideal if you have other children or can’t access the LATCH anchors from this position. Since securing your children in the car is more important than which back seat position they take, opt for security over positioning.

Do car seats need to be replaced after an accident?

If you’re in an accident, with a car seat in your car, you should assume you’ll need to replace it. Even if no one was sitting in the car seat at the time, there’s no way to know if the stress of the impact caused damage to the seat. Often it’s unseen damage that makes the car seat less secure, and your child less safe if a car accident happens again.

There are only a few instances where car seat replacement, after an accident, is not necessary. They include:

  • Being able to drive your car away from the accident.
  • No damage occurring to the door closest to the car seat.
  • No injuries to anyone in your car.
  • No deployment of airbags.

Since car seats aren’t meant to do their job twice after you’ve been involved in a major car accident, any potential damage to the seat, or to the area of the car nearest to the seat, necessitates a replacement.

Why car seat accident damage is hard to see

When your car gets damaged in a car accident, it’s usually pretty obvious. You’ll see a dent or scrape in the steel frame of your car, but damage to a car seat happens on the inside.

The force of impact that’s part of a car accident can weaken the plastic on the interior of the car seat. This is what’s under the soft cushion your child sits in. Weakened plastic deteriorates the car seat’s ability to protect a child properly. They might not end up as safe in a second car accident.

Will insurance cover a car seat replacement?

Don’t wait for insurance to pay out to buy a new car seat. You’ll most likely need it right away. Find an appropriate replacement, and hold onto receipts. Keep the car seat manual as well, since it will include specific language about replacing car seats in car accidents which you can use to validate the expense to the insurance company.

Once you file with insurance, detailing the damages to your car and any injuries to yourself or your children, your settlement should include coverage of the car seat.

If the accident was your fault, and you have full coverage insurance, the settlement should include replacing the car seat.

Hiring an attorney for a car accident settlement for a child

Unfortunately, even with all the right safety precautions when it comes to your child and their car seat, car accident injuries can still happen. The most common areas of a child’s body injured in a car accident include the head, chest, spine, abdomen, and extremities. Even in a car seat, a child can get whiplash, or damage their bones and muscles.

Should you experience a car accident, with your child securely buckled into their car seat, and they sustain injuries, make sure you get the compensation you deserve. Contact the experienced attorneys at Nicholson, Silverback & Watson, and schedule a free consultation. From there, we’ll take the lead on securing the compensation you deserve so you can focus on helping your little one through the mental and physical trauma they may have sustained in the accident.

Get the financial help you need without the stress of fighting the fight alone. Contact us today to learn more.

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