If you have been in a car accident, you may wonder what the laws state about continuing to use a child safety seat that was involved in the crash. In Montana, there are no laws in place that dictate whether or not you must replace a car seat at any given time prior to its expiration date. However, the law does indicate that all children who are six years old or younger and who weigh less than 60 pounds must be in a car seat or booster seat while a vehicle is in motion.
The federal government does have distinct recommendations to help you ensure your car seat remains a safe option for you child. According to Safecar.gov, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends that you immediately replace any car seats that were in a vehicle that was involved in a moderate to severe car crash. You may be able to continue using the same car seat after some minor crashes. For instance, if you could drive your car away from the crash site, no one was injured in the crash in any way, the airbags did not deploy and the door nearest the car seat received no damage, the NHTSA does not state that your car seat needs to be replaced.
Ultimately, the emphasis should always be placed on the safety of a seat and whether or not it is capable of performing well and protecting your child in the event of a subsequent accident. If you are unsure of whether you were involved in a moderate or minor crash, it is always better to ere on the side of caution and replace a child safety seat. This information is intended for educational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice.