Monday, February 22, 2010

When Is It Safe to Keep Using a Car Seat After an Accident?

My family was in a car accident this past week. We were inside our car, which was parked in a Walmart parking lot. I had just finished buckling our infant daughter into her car seat when a car struck us on the driver’s side front door.

After getting everyone out of the car, calling 911, and calming our unsettled nerves, I began to consider the lasting impact of the car accident. Would all three of us be sore the next morning? Should I take my daughter to the doctor to be examined? The biggest question on my mind was the following: Can we safely continue using our daughter’s infant car seat?

I did a little research, and discovered that we would not need to replace the car seat. In a moderate or severe crash, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends that an infant car sear be replaced. In a minor crash, however, there are some cases where it is possible to keep using the child’s car seat safely.

The website of NHTSA gives a sort of checklist to go through to help you decide whether your car seat is still safe and fully functioning after a car accident. A crash is only considered minor and the car seat can only continue to be used if both meet the following criteria:

  • Your vehicle must be able to be driven away from the accident. Our vehicle was running perfectly after being hit in the parking lot. Check.
  • The door closest to the car seat must be undamaged. Our car was hit on the driver’s side, and our daughter’s car seat is located on the passenger side. Check.
  • No one in the vehicle at the time of the crash can be injured as a result of the crash. We had no injuries, even though I wasn’t buckled in yet. Thank goodness, and check.
  • The air bags cannot have deployed. Ours didn’t deploy. Check.
  • There can be no visible damage to the car seat. No damage visible on ours. Check!

If you were in a car accident and the crash does not meet ALL of these criteria, you will need to either replace the car seat or have the car seat tested for safety.

Some information was taken from All information on the website is considered public information and may be distributed or copied.


  1. I commend you for immediately assessing your daughter’s infant seat after the accident. Anyway, I hope she did not get traumatized because of the accident. May I ask what happened to the driver of the car? I do hope you got compensated with the danger he brought you. Still, it’s good to know that you didn’t sustain severe injuries from the accident. Hope you’re all doing well!

    Cristy Witherspoon

  2. What caused the accident? Was the driver overspeeding or what? It was a good thing that when it happened, your infant daughter was already buckled in her car seat. I hope that this is your first and last car accident.