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When Is It Time to Replace Your Child’s Car Seat?

By Butler Prather LLP on April 23, 2019

A car seat is a critical piece of equipment for protecting your child during an accident. Car accidents are a leading cause of death for children and infants. Car seats can reduce the risk of injury and death by up to 70%, when used correctly. Unfortunately, not all parents understand the safest times to replace their car seats. Old, outdated, used, defective, or inappropriate car seats for the age of the child can put a child at risk in a car accident. Learn when to replace your child’s car seat for optimal injury protection.

The Appropriate Seat for Your Growing Child

Parents must replace car seats with different models as their children grow. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers a chart to help parents understand which devices are most appropriate according to the child’s age, height, and weight.

  • Rear-facing car seat. Children should sit in a rear-facing seat from birth until age two to four, depending on the manufacturer instructions. Infants should use these seats until they meet the maximum weight or height limit.
  • Forward-facing car seat. Until at least the age of five, infants should remain in a forward-facing car seat after outgrowing the limits of a rear-facing seat. Parents should use a forward-facing car seat until the child reaches the maximum limits.
  • Booster seat. Once the child reaches the maximum limits of the forward-facing car seats, parents should replace them with booster seats. A booster seat should remain in place until the child is tall enough (at least 4’9”) to fit correctly into a seat belt.

Age 12 is typically around the time when parents can get rid of booster seats and use a normal seatbelt. The age is not as important, however, as the height of the child. A child should continue using a booster seat until the lap belt lies on the upper thighs and the shoulder belt lies across the chest.

Car Seat Expiration Dates

Many parents do not realize their car seats have expiration dates. Manufacturers print expiration dates as a recommended date to replace the seat after enough time has passed to compromise its performance. The plastic components of car seats can deteriorate over time – especially if exposed to daily sunlight. Metal components can rust over and fail in an accident. Pay attention to the expiration date on your car seat, which will usually last around six to eight years, if you plan on reusing it for your next child or giving it to a friend. If the expiration date has passed, it is time to replace your car seat.

Defective or Dangerous Car Seats

Some car seats contain manufacturing or design defects that can make them unsuitable for use even prior to their expiration dates. Manufacturers may have released car seats that contain defects, only to later issue a recall. Check national car seat recall lists to make sure your seat does not contain a known defect. Defects could cause the seat to malfunction in a collision – potentially putting your child’s life at risk. If your car seat is on a recall list, return it to the manufacturer for a refund or follow the instructions for how to remedy the situation. You may need to replace your car seat with a safer model.

Did a Defective Car Seat Injure Your Child?

If you followed all the rules but your child still suffered serious injuries in a collision, you could have a case against the manufacturer for a defective product. Contact an attorney to discuss how to file a product liability claim in Atlanta. The manufacturer could owe your family compensation for your child’s physical pain and suffering, hospital bills, and future lost quality of life. A lawyer can help you protect your rights in the face of a defective or dangerous car seat.

Posted in: Car Accidents

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