Car accidents and children's car seats & what you need to know

Travelling with young children on board certainly has its moments. Whether it’s hours of I-spy, endless renditions of The Wheels on the Bus or frustrating calls of are we there yet keeping the youngsters amused isn’t easy. Keeping them safe can also be a challenge.

While it’s absolutely essential that children’s car seats are the right size for the child and that they’re properly fitted, car accidents do happen and when they do, they can cause irreparable damage to child seats.

In a survey carried out by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) it was found that it is essential to replace a car seat after an accident. Even if you can’t see any damage, minor impacts can weaken the seats’ ability to protect your child.

Unfortunately, many people fail to replace damaged child seats every year, “usually because they look fine”. According to RoSPA there is not enough consumer pressure or influence for people to think they really should replace child car seats after an accident.

A leading UK insurance provider discovered that as many as 20% of Britons do not consider it necessary to replace a child car seat after and accidents.

These attitudes put the lives of many children in danger every year. There’s no good reason not to replace a child car seat after an accident because many insurers will replace car child seats FREE of charge. Since 2005 RoSPA have stated that replacing a child car seat is a legitimate accident cost that should be covered by insurers.

Seat belts and seat belt attachments should also be checked to ensure that they haven’t been damaged. If a seat belt restrains a driver or passenger during an impact it can be stretched to a point that it will not work properly in the future. Though it may look fine to the naked eye, it could be dangerous in the future.

Make sure that child seats are properly fitted

Statistics show that a high proportion of child car seats are not fitted correctly to begin with.

Common problems include:

    • The child is too big or too small for the car seat
    • The child seat is too loose
    • The child seat does not rest properly on the car seat.

These problems are easily solved. As soon as a child grows out of their car seat, you must buy a car seat that is the correct weight and size for them. This will ensure their safety and keep them nice and comfortable during all those great journeys together!

Buying a child car seat

As any parent will confirm, children are a costly business. Though there’s always lots of expenditure when a new child arrives in the family, car seats are not an area to scrimp on. The message from the experts is clear: NEVER buy a second hand child car seat. Common sense (backed by research) confirms that you can never be 100% sure that a used seat hasn’t been involved in an accident and that it is completely safe.

A major benefit of buying a new car seat is that you can register your purchase with the manufacturer. That usually gives you access to up-to-date information about the seat’s safety features and ensures that if the seat model is ever recalled because of a problem, you will be informed.

What to do if you are in a car accident

Car accidents, even minor accidents, are traumatic for the driver and their passengers. They’re even more upsetting when children are involved. You’ll find the key information about what you should do in the event of an accident on our car accident claims advice page and, of course, if the accident is the other driver’s fault you are well within your rights to make a compensation claim. A qualified personal injury solicitor will be able to help you assess your personal situation and advise whether you are entitled to claim.