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The Safety Restraint Coalition

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Replacing a Car Seat After a Crash

If you were involved in a car crash with a child who was buckled into their car seat or booster, the seat may need to be replaced. The forces in a collision can sometimes cause unseen damage. This hidden damage may keep the car seat from properly protecting the child in future crashes. Your car seat manufacturer is the best judge of whether your child’s seat needs replacement following a crash as minor as a fender bender. No state or federal law requires manufacturers to replace a child restraint following a crash.

The insurance company responsible for the repairs to your vehicle may reimburse the cost of a replacing a child restraint that was occupied during a motor vehicle crash. Talk with your insurance adjuster. To help them understand why there is a need to replace a child car seat following a crash, your best resource is the instruction booklet that came with your child’s seat. If you no longer have the instruction book you may locate replacement instructions on the manufacturer’s website. Every car seat manufacturer recommends a seat be replaced if it has been involved in a severe car crash.

The following additional information may help you when filing an insurance claim on a car seat involved in a crash. This information is posted on the Web sites below as of September 2008:

The Juvenile Product Manufacturer’s Association (JPMA)

JPMA publishes"Safe and Sound, a guide to baby product safety, use and selection. On page six, Car Seats and Booster Seats, they state, “Do not use a car seat/booster that has ever been involved in a crash.”

American Academy of Pediatrics

What if my car safety seat was in a crash?

Do not use seats that have been in a moderate or severe crash. Seats that were in a minor crash may still be safe to use. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) considers a crash minor if all of the following are true:

  • The vehicle could be driven away from the crash.
  • The vehicle door closest to the car safety seat was not damaged.
  • No one in the vehicle was injured.
  • The air bags did not go off.
  • You can’t see any damage to the car safety seat.
  • If you are unsure, call the manufacturer of the seat!


What should I do with my child seat that has been involved in a crash?

Britax recommends that the use of a child seat be discontinued if it has been in a severe crash. We further advise of the NHTSA position that it is not necessary to replace a child seat after a minor crash. (See NHTSA's standards above.)


What do I do if my car seat is in an accident?

Please discontinue use immediately and contact the Evenflo Parent Link Consumer Resource Center at (800) 233-5921. There may be, in some cases, internal stresses that cannot be seen.


I was recently in an accident. Do I have to replace my child's car seat? There doesn't appear to be any damage.

Yes. You must replace your child's car seat if it was involved in an accident, no matter what. Even if there appears to be no damage to the car seat on the surface, the impact and force of a collision can cause unseen structural damage to the interior of your car seat. Any such damage may prohibit your car seat from properly protecting your child in the event of a sudden stop or crash. Some insurance carriers will reimburse you for the replacement of a new car seat if it was in a crash. Check with your insurance carrier for more details.