Most people don’t know that your car’s seatbelts aren’t designed to last the entire lifetime of your vehicle – unless you drive very carefully and have very good luck, that is. Seatbelts are single use only. But what does that mean?
Obviously, it doesn’t mean you need to replace your seatbelts every time you drive. And it doesn’t mean you need to regularly replace them every six months like you do your engine oil and windshield wipers.
Seatbelts are designed to prevent drivers and passengers from being thrown forward inside their vehicles or ejected from their seats in a car accident. Every year, seatbelts save thousands of lives by holding vehicle occupants in place during crashes. So, what it really means, is that seatbelts are only effective for one car accident before needing to be replaced.
Do I Need to Replace My Seatbelt After a Crash?
If you crashed your bicycle and cracked your bike helmet, you wouldn’t keep using the same broken helmet, would you? You’d go out and buy a new one! The seatbelts in your car are the same.
The webbing in seatbelts is designed to stretch without breaking in a collision to safely absorb sudden deceleration forces at the moment of impact. Unfortunately, once it stretches, it loses elasticity. That means it won’t be as effective the next time around.
Additionally, most modern seatbelts are equipped with pretensioners, which instantly reel in slack to keep your seatbelt tight around you and prevent you from sliding underneath it during a crash where the airbags deploy. However, pretensioners are single use only.
When purchasing a pre-owned car, verify its accident history report and make sure to check the seatbelts for fraying, torn stitching, and problems retracting.
Why You Should Replace Your Child’s Car Seat or Booster Seat After a Crash
Forces that are strong enough to bend the steel in your car’s frame are more than strong enough to bend the plastic in a child’s car seat, even if that damage isn’t visible. Hairline fractures can be easily missed while severely reducing the effectiveness of a car seat. The seat can also be damaged if it was in the car at the time of the crash, even if your child wasn’t in the seat.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration suggests that if you were involved in a minor crash meeting ALL of the following criteria, you likely do not need to replace your car seat.
- The vehicle can be safely driven.
- The door nearest the car seat is undamaged.
- No one sustained injuries.
- The air bags didn’t deploy.
- There is no visible damage to the car seat.
In all other circumstances, you should replace the car seat. Thankfully, in most cases your insurance will also cover the cost of purchasing a new car seat. Make sure to talk to your insurance representative to see if your policy covers car seat or booster seat replacement.
Have You Been in a Car Accident? We Want to Help
Car accidents can cause your wallet to take a big hit, whether you need to replace your vehicle’s seatbelts, a bumper, or more. But when you’re dealing with both vehicle damage and injuries that keep you away from work while you’re hospitalized or recovering, your financial situation can get a lot worse very quickly.
Our experienced car accident lawyers want to help you get the compensation you need to pay your bills after an accident that wasn’t your fault. Contact Broussard & Hart today for your free consultation.