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Do you have to buy your child a new car seat after a wreck?

North Carolina law requires children under the age of 8 to be in weight- and height-appropriate car or booster seats every time they ride in motor vehicles. This makes sense, as these seats are highly effective at reducing traffic fatalities and accident-related injuries.

A car or booster seat can only do its job properly if it is in good condition, of course. Regrettably, a motor vehicle accident may damage your child’s car seat, possibly putting his or her life in future danger.

Replace after a moderate or severe car accident

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration tells parents it is usually only ok to continue to use a child’s car seat after a minor crash. This means you should always replace your child’s car seat following moderate or severe accidents. Collisions are moderate or severe if any of the following are true:

  • The accident causes the car to be undrivable
  • The accident causes the car’s airbags to deploy
  • The accident causes car damage near the location of the child seat
  • The accident causes the driver or a passenger to suffer any type of injury

Replace after noticing visible signs of damage

Even if your car accident does not qualify as a moderate or severe one, you should take a close look at your child’s car or booster seat. If the seat has any visible signs of damage, it may no longer provide adequate protection. Likewise, if the seat’s manufacturer recommends replacement following a crash, you should follow the recommendation.

Your child is the most precious cargo you transport. Ultimately, if you have any lingering doubts about the condition of his or her car or booster seat, purchasing a new one may put your mind at ease.