Should you replace your child’s car seat following a car accident?

Yes, you should replace your child’s car seat following a car accident because the stability of the car seat could be compromised. Your insurance company or the other driver’s insurance will pay for the replacement of your child’s car seat in a car accident.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has changed their stance that car seats should be replaced in every car accident and now only recommends replacing a car seat where there is a high impact car accident and not to for minor car accidents. The NHTSA states that their position is due to parent’s unable to buy or receive a replacement quickly from the insurance company and don’t use a car seat in the mean time.

This seems risky to me, to put your child’s life in the hands to an estimate whether the car seat is damaged and safety compromised. While this makes sense on the outside, a more practical approach may be to require insurance companies to pay for a replacement ASAP instead of parent’s just thinking the car seat is fine and continuing to allow the child to ride in a ticking time bomb.

NHTSA cited several international studies which showed that after minor vehicle crash tests, even when there is visible stress to the child restraint, the restraint still performed well in subsequent crash tests. The NHTSA defined a minor car crash as the following:

  • The vehicle was able to be driven away from the crash site;
  • The vehicle door nearest the safety seat was undamaged;
  • There were no injuries to any of the vehicle occupants;
  • The air bags (if present) did not deploy; AND
  • There is no visible damage to the safety seat

If you have a car seat that was damaged or you no longer use it, you can recycle your car seat in Seattle. Local recycling center Total Reclaim is partnering with Old Car Seat, New Life to offer ongoing booster and car seat recycling services.

Puget Sound area parents and caregivers can bring car seats and boosters to the Total Reclaim recycling facility at 2200 6th Ave. S. between 8 am to 4:30 pm daily. Car seats with covers, straps and foam removed cost $5 to recycle, or $7 as is. Details are at

Andrew CherinShould you replace your child’s car seat following a car accident?