3002 W. Kennedy Blvd.

Tampa, Florida 33609

(813) 755-9500

Text or call us anytime!

Always Open

We're here for you 24/7

Should I Replace the Car Seat After a Car Accident?

If you have been involved in a an SUV or car accident in the Tampa Bay area call Tampa Personal Injury Attorney, Martin J. Hernandez at 813-755-9500
Car Seat Safety

Yes, if there are injuries or significant property damage.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends that an infant carrier or baby seat be replaced in motor vehicle accidents with injuries or significant property damage.  

Why Should I Replace the Car Seat After a Car Accident?

Yes, if it is not a minor crash, the car seat should be replaced because the structural integrity of the car seat may have been compromised.  You can even ask that the at-fault insurance carrier replace the car seat! In fact, insist the insurance carrier replace them after a car accident so that your baby or child is adequately protected in the future. If it is a minor crash, the car seat does not need to be replaced.

Does a Car Seat Have to be Replaced after a Car Accident?

No, a car seat does not need to be replaced if the crash was minor. A minor crash is one in which ALL five of the following apply:

  1. The vehicle was able to driven away from the crash site;
  2. The vehicle door nearest the car seat was not damaged;
  3. None of the passengers in the vehicle sustained any injuries in the crash;
  4. If the vehicle has air bags, the air bags did not deploy during the crash; and
  5. There is no visible damage to the car seat.

If 1 of the 5 does exist, it is not a minor crash and the car seat should be replaced. NEVER USE A CAR SEAT INVOLVED IN A MODERATE TO SEVERE CRASH.

What Are the Rules for Car Seats in Florida?

  • Florida law requires children age 5 and under to be secured properly in a crash-tested, federally approved child restraint device.
  • Children ages 0 to 3 must be in child restraint devices of a separate carrier or a vehicle manufacturer’s integrated child seat.
  • Children age 4 through 5 must be in a separate carrier, integrated child seat or booster seat.

These rules are enumerated in Florida Statute s. 316.613 and on the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

What Is the Age and Weight Restrictions for a Booster Seat in Florida?

Florida law allows a child to start using a booster seat at age four. Most experts believe your child is ready for a booster seat when they outgrow the weight or height limit for their forward-facing car seat. This occurs at weights of up to 85 pounds and a height of at least 35 inches. However, READ THE MANUFACTURERS RECOMMENDATION AS THEY VARY BY CAR SEAT AND BOOSTER. Read more on our blog.

What Size Should My Child Be To Get Out of a Booster and Use a Seat Belt?

The child should wait to get out of a booster when they are taller than 4 feet 9 inches and weigh more than 80 pounds. 

Which Type of Vehicle Should I Use with a Car Seat?

Solely my recommendation and opinion, but refrain from sports cars and off-road vehicles. I personally recommend full size sedans, crossovers and SUVs because of their size and space in the vehicle.  Frankly, size and space are two things you will need when you have children.

Should I Use a Used Car Seat for My Baby?

Do not use a car seat if you do not know its history. It may have been involved in a prior car accident and the structural integrity may have been compromised.

In 2022, there were 85 child passenger fatalities due to vehicle crashes. Of these 85 fatalities, almost 50% were not wearing any type of restraint.

Which Car Seat Should I Buy?

There are many car seat to choose from.  Do your research by looking at the different types of car seats and which one meets your child’s needs. A good place to start is to check NHTSA’s car seat recommendation for children.

A few things to consider are the following:

  • CHILD’S AGE AND SIZE: Choose a car seat based on your child’s age and size and then choose a seat that fits in your vehicle, and use it every time.  Things to consider: are your back seats bucket seats? Captain’s chair? Bench?  Not every car seat fits into all three of those seat types.
  • MAXIMIZE SAFETY: Keep your child in the car seat for as long as possible. As long as the child fits within the manufacturer’s height and weight requirements, keep him or her in that seat until maxed out.
  • MAX OUT THE SEAT: Always refer to your specific car seat manufacturer’s instructions (check height and weight limits) and read the vehicle owner’s manual on how to install the car seat using the seat belt or lower anchors and a tether, if available.
  • BACK SEAT: Keep your child in the back seat at least through age 12.

An easy way to find the right car seat is to use NHTSA’s car seat finder calculator.

Read more in our blog post, where we broke down all of the types of car seats and which one works best for your child based on age, size and weight.

What Consequences Are there For Not Using a Child Restraint System?

There are both health and legal reasons to use a child restraint system. The first fundamental purpose of child restraint systems is to protect the child. As the name suggests, the primary purpose is to secure the child in the seat to prevent the child from being thrown out of the seat (or out of the vehicle or around the vehicle) and suffering a violent blow to the body. Without this, the child will hit his or her head violently and may suffer very serious brain damage.

The legal reason ranges from a civil infraction for violating Florida Statute 316.613, but what is really sad is that if the child is really injured, the driver can be charged with Aggravated Child Abuse or Child Neglect, which carries a minimum of 21 months in Florida State Prison and up to 15 years in prison.

I once represented a parent who was driving down the street to the store and put his 2 year old in the back seat with a seat belt (not a booster or car seat) and another driver broadsided him.  The 2 year-old was left paralyzed from the waist down, but dad was incarcerated and faced 24 months minimum in prison.  We were able to work a deal that kept him from being incarcerated, but he sat in jail for some time.

Tampa Personal Injury Attorney | Auto Accident Injury Lawyer

As a family-owned law firm based in Tampa, we understand the importance of save driving and protection. To find out more about how we can help, contact us today.

See why experience and results matter.


Call or Text Your Tampa Personal Injury Attorney at 813-755-9500

Practice Areas:

Tampa Auto Accident Injury Lawyer | Martin J Hernandez, Esq.

If you have been injured in any kind of accident, your personal injury lawyer with the law firm of Martin J. Hernandez will guide you every step of the way. Call or Text us now at 813-755-9500

The Martin J. Hernandez Firm’s lawyers handle personal injury cases throughout the entire Tampa, South Tampa & West Tampa area. Areas we service include Carrollwood, Northdale, Town ‘n’ Country, Brandon, Seffner, Dover, Valrico, Riverview, West Tampa, West Chase, Hyde Park, Culbreath, West Shore, Palma Ceia, Gulfview, 33635, 33615, 33634, 33626, 33625, 33508, 33509, 33510, 33511,33568, 33569, 33578, 33579 & all of Hillsborough County and the state of Florida.


Call 813-755-9500 for a FREE consultation.

CLICK HERE for a FREE Case Evaluation