Expertly Reviewed By: Serah Waweru, Esq., on May 30, 2023
If you are a car owner and a parent, you may sometimes wonder if Graco will replace a car seat after an accident. Knowing the answer is of utmost importance because it can help you make informed decisions about your child’s safety. So, in this article, we will discuss Graco’s car seat replacement policy after an accident, U.S. federal laws for car seat replacement after an accident, and more.
What Is Graco’s Car Seat Replacement Policy?
Graco is a well-known brand in the parenting world. For years, they have developed and produced sturdy car seats that will last for many years to come. They offer a one-year warranty to show confidence in their car seats and ensure your peace of mind.
However, like most warranties, Graco’s warranty covers only damages and defects in material and workmanship that were the fault of the manufacturer. It does not replace car seats if damaged due to a car accident (or other types of accidents).
If Graco will not replace it for free, what should you do?
You can file a claim with your car insurance company. Depending on the insurance policy and conditions, most insurance companies are usually required to cover the replacement cost of a car seat after a crash, even if it is your fault.
The amount of money an insurance company will pay for a replacement car seat will vary. Most car insurance policies will pay around $150 to $500 for a new car seat. The price of your damaged or new car seat does not usually affect your ability to file a claim.
Keep the following things in mind when filing a car seat replacement claim with your car insurance company:
- Collect all the important information about the car accident, including the date, location, and time of the incident.
- Make sure to take pictures of your car seat after the accident, copies of all correspondence (e.g., emails and letters), and other documents related to the accident (e.g., accident and police reports).
- Inform your insurance company about the accident as soon as possible. Make sure you provide accurate and detailed information about what happened.
- You should file a collision claim with your insurance company if you are at fault or if the other driver who is at fault does not have insurance or is underinsured.
- If the other driver is at fault for the accident, you can include the cost of the damaged car seat in your property damage liability insurance claim.
- Fill out the necessary forms accurately and provide any other information your insurance company asks for.
There is a possibility that an insurance company may deny claims to replace a car seat after an accident. Here are a few reasons car insurance companies refuse to pay for a new car seat:
- No one was occupying the seat during the crash.
- There are no visible damages to the car seat.
- You gave incomplete or false information about the damages while filing the claim.
- Your insurance policy had lapsed at the time of the car accident. Therefore, you have to pay out-of-pocket for a new car seat because you do not have insurance coverage.
- You did not provide accurate and complete documentation to your insurance company. This documentation may include policy certificates, purchase receipts, a copy of the police report, and photos of your damaged car seat.
Is There a Car Seat Accident Replacement Law in the United States After an Accident?
In the United States, there are no federal laws that explicitly require insurance companies or manufacturers to replace car seats that were damaged due to an accident. However, there might be some states that have regulations or laws that require car seat replacement under specific circumstances.
For instance, under California Insurance Code 11580.011, it is mandatory for insurance companies to replace child car seats that were damaged due to an accident. This state code still applies even if a car seat was not occupied during a crash. No visible signs of damage is also not a sufficient reason for an insurance company to refuse a replacement claim.
In North Carolina, there are no laws requiring insurance companies or manufacturers (like Graco) to replace a damaged car seat. According to BuckleUpNC.org, a website built and maintained by the UNC Highway Safety Research Center, the decision to replace a car seat after an accident will mainly depend on the severity of the crash and the car seat manufacturer. (In this case, Graco does not offer a free replacement of damaged car seats due to an accident.)
Other U.S. states also do not have laws that require insurance companies and manufacturers to offer consumers a car seat replacement in case of an accident. Despite the lack of federal oversight, safety experts and transportation agencies still suggest that you replace your car seat after an accident. When it comes to car seat safety, most states in the U.S. follow the recommendations of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The NHTSA recommends replacing car seats and boosters after a moderate or severe car crash to maintain a high level of protection for your child.
To sum it up, there are no specific federal laws in the U.S. about the replacement of car seats after an accident. However, it is still worth checking your state’s legislation, consulting a personal injury attorney, or contacting your car seat manufacturer to get the right information.
Whether there are laws in place or not, it is best to side with safety and replace the car seat with a new one after it has been in a collision. Your car seat might look okay to you, but it may have formed cracks that are not immediately noticeable.
When To Replace Car Seat After Accident?
There are different factors that determine when you should replace a car seat after an accident. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says that you do not need to immediately replace a car seat after a minor crash. However, the agency recommends getting a new one following a moderate or severe crash.
It also depends on what the manufacturer specifically says about the car seat you bought. Graco advises their customers to replace their car seat in the event of an accident, regardless of the severity of the crash. It does not matter if there appears to be visible damage to the car seat or not.
You do not need to get a replacement car seat that is the exact same model or size as the one you had before. For instance, if your child has grown bigger or taller, you can buy a new car seat that will accommodate his size.
So, why should you replace your car seat after a crash?
1. Compromised Structural Integrity
Car seats, such as those made by Graco, are designed to absorb specific amounts of impact during a crash to minimize the impact on your child. However, this does not mean they would not get damaged during the crash. The level of protection a car seat provides will vary depending on the model, construction materials, design, manufacturing techniques, and safety standards it meets.
After an accident, your car seat may have hidden damage that could affect the level of protection it can provide in a subsequent crash. The plastic in the car seat that flexes under pressure could crack or become weak. The mechanisms that control its harness webbing may no longer be working properly. The energy-absorbing foam and EPS (expanded polystyrene) material could also have been deformed or displaced.
2. Meet Safety Standards
The government requires Graco and other manufacturers of child car seats to meet stringent safety standards and guidelines. Reusing a child car seat after a crash may be a violation of these safety standards, as the car seat no longer offers the same high level of protection as it did before the accident.
3. Warranty and Legal Liability
In addition, choosing to reuse a child’s car seat after an accident could void the manufacturer’s warranty coverage. The manufacturer could also face legal trouble if a subsequent car crash involved a previously damaged child car seat.
What should you do with your damaged car seat after you replace it?
Depending on where you live, there are several things you can do. For instance, you can toss it in a recycle bin. Some states, such as California, Colorado, and Minnesota, used to have or currently have car seat recycling programs that allow residents to properly dispose of used car seats.
Graco’s warranty policy does not cover the replacement of car seats that were damaged due to a car accident. However, you can still get a new one by filing a claim with your car insurance company. Sadly, it is not always easy to file a claim against car insurance companies. They sometimes refuse to pay benefits covered by the policy or make the process more difficult for policyholders.
The good news is that you do not have to do this alone. A reputable auto accident attorney can help you get the benefits that you are entitled to under your policy. Speak with an auto accident attorney today to know your rights and options.