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Should Seatbelts or Car Seats be replaced after an automobile accident?

Some people are not aware that their vehicle’s manual either suggests or requires their seatbelts to be checked properly and/or replaced after automobile accidents.  With the advent of new technology, car manufacturers have applied pretensioner seatbelts.  Pretensioners use a mechanism that takes the slack out of the seat belts and locks them instantly upon impact. Pretensioners also lower the risk of “submarining” after an accident, which is when a passenger slides forward under a loosely worn belt.

As in the case of airbags, pretensioner seatbelts can only be used once and should be replaced after an accident.  If seat belts worn during a crash are not replaced, they can be less effective in subsequent collisions and increase the likelihood of whiplash injuries, neck and back pain.  The chances of more serious injuries and death also increase with subsequent crashes.  Please review your car manual for further information and instructions regarding seatbelt safety and/replacement from the manufacturer.  Replacement of the seatbelts that were used during a crash should be covered under your insurance policy.

Be sure to tell the auto body repair shop to check the seat belts for replacement while they make the repairs to your vehicle.

Furthermore, if you were involved in an automobile accident (even a minor fender bender) with a child who was buckled into their car seat or booster, the seat may need to be replaced. The forces involved in these crashes may cause unseen damage to the car seat/booster. This hidden damage may keep the car seat from properly protecting the child in future crashes.  Please check your car seat/booster manufacturers manual for further information regarding replacement following a crash.  This may also serve as your best source of confirmation with the insurance company for the replacement of your car seat/booster.  You may be able to acquire the instructional booklet from the manufacturers website.

Yours in health,

Ashkan Aazami, DC
Total Health Family Clinic, Chiropractic care and physical therapy, offices in Landover Hills, District Heights, Rockville

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