Should You Replace Your Child’s Car Seat After a Crash?


Children are our most precious cargo when driving. They’re also the first ones we worry about when a crash occurs. That’s why states like Nevada have strict car seat laws to protect our most vulnerable passengers.

Car seats save lives. Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that car seats lower the risk of injury to children in accidents by 71 to 82 percent compared with seat belt use alone. However, the seat’s integrity can be compromised if it’s ever involved in a crash. Putting your child in a damaged car seat could have disastrous consequences if another wreck occurs.

So, do car seats have to be replaced after an accident? At THE702FIRM Injury Attorneys, we want to help parents protect their children. That means raising awareness about Nevada’s child car seat laws and helping parents understand what to do after an accident in Las Vegas.

What are Nevada’s Child Car Seat Laws?

Nevada has new child car seat laws. Before January 2022, children under age six or up to 57 inches tall had to ride in a car seat. Now, the law states that any child under the age of six and under 57 inches must ride in an approved child restraint system. It’s no longer one or the other. It’s both.

In addition, children under the age of two must be secured into a rear-facing car seat located in the back of a vehicle. Children who meet the required weight and height guidelines can be placed into front-facing child safety seats.

NHTSA Car Seat Replacement Recommendations

After a collision, it can be challenging to determine whether a child’s car seat needs replacement. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) advises parents against reusing car seats involved in moderate to severe collisions. Seats involved in minor to moderate crashes may safely be reused.

By NHTSA standards, a car accident is minor if all of the following statements apply:

  • The vehicle can safely be driven away from the scene of the crash.
  • The door closest to the car seat was not damaged in the collision.
  • Passengers did not sustain any injuries.
  • The airbags in the vehicle did not deploy.
  • There is no visible damage to the car seat.

If all five of these conditions are met, chances are your car seat is safe to reuse. But check the manufacturer’s instruction manual, too. The manufacturer may still recommend purchasing a new safety seat.

Car Seat Inspections After a Crash

After a car accident, remove the car seat from your vehicle and examine it for signs of damage. Look for cracks, missing pieces, bent metal, and stretched or frayed harness pieces or belts. You will also want to place the car seat on a hard, flat surface. It may be damaged if you notice bowing, twisting, or the car seat sitting on the surface unevenly. If you see anything unusual, err on the side of caution and replace the car seat.

While it is true that free car seat inspections are available throughout Nevada, these inspections are to check for proper installation only. Currently, no programs can inspect the safety of a car seat post-crash and guarantee that it is OK to reuse.

What Factors Indicate the Need to Replace a Child’s Car Seat?

Visible damage to the child’s car seat is the most obvious way to tell if a car seat needs replacement. If there are cracks in the plastic, exposed or twisted metal parts, or apparent signs of deformity, you need to replace the seat. Look closely at the belt and clip attachments to ensure they are not bent or torn. Make sure the clips still securely fit in the buckles.

Keep in mind that the car seat could be damaged even if it looks perfectly fine. The force applied to a vehicle, even in low-speed collisions, can be substantial. Even with no visible signs of damage, the seat could have structural weaknesses that may not adequately protect a child in a subsequent crash.

Importance of Replacing a Car Seat After an Accident

NHTSA data indicates crashes are the leading cause of death for children ages one to 13. Your child must be restrained in an approved child safety seat every time you hit the road. Car seats need to be installed correctly and children properly secured within those seats.

If you’re concerned about affording a new car seat after a crash, NHTSA does say it’s OK to use a secondhand car seat if:

  • The car seat has never been involved in a moderate to severe crash.
  • You can see the labels with the seat’s manufacture date and model number. This information is necessary to learn if the seat is too old or recalled.
  • The seat has been recalled. A recalled seat may not be a dealbreaker, but you will need to determine whether it can be repaired from the manufacturer.
  • There are no missing parts. If components are missing, don’t use the car seat until you get replacement parts from the manufacturer.
  • The seat comes with its instruction manual. Some manufacturers publish their car seat manuals online, or you can order one from the manufacturer.

It’s also worth noting that you can be reimbursed for property damage after a car accident by filing a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. You may be able to include a request for a car seat replacement as part of your claim.

Get in Touch with a Las Vegas Car Accident Attorney Today

At THE702FIRM Injury Attorneys, we understand the heartbreak that families experience when their children are hurt in crashes caused by others’ negligence. If you or a family member suffered injuries in a Las Vegas collision, a car accident lawyer from our firm can help you pursue maximum compensation for your losses. Call or contact us today for a free consultation.