Car Seat Heaters Burn Drivers and Lead to Litigation
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Car Seat Heaters Burn Drivers and Lead to Litigation

Wednesday, May 09, 2018By Nina Shapirshteyn

Car seat heaters are one of the many convenience features offered by car manufacturers today. In most cases, heaters are a welcomed luxury for drivers. But automakers may be designing heaters that operate in ranges that exceed what humans can handle or installing heaters that do not conform to design specifications for temperature. In studies, some seat heaters were found to reach a temperature of 140 degrees Fahrenheit, which far surpasses acceptable tolerance levels. The defective construction and design of these seat heaters has resulted in holes in clothing and seat covers, minor burns on the skin, and more serious injuries to people with sensory weaknesses, including diabetics and paraplegics.

Industry Experts Issue Complaints about Seat Heaters

Experts in the medical field have taken a stand against the absence of uniform standards to regulate seat heaters in cars. In 2011, a consumer advocacy group, backed by professionals in the medical burn community, demanded that the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) take action to avoid further injuries to car riders, especially those with diabetes or paralysis who have incurred serious and permanent injuries. These individuals have sensory deficits that do not enable them to detect when the heater gets too hot. In addition, these seats do not have an automatic mechanism to shut off the heating function. Advocates have called on the NHTSA to stop ignoring numerous complaints from car owners related to overheated seats.

Striving to Develop a Voluntary Standard

In January, 2016, the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) recommended the development of guidelines that would establish temperature thresholds to lessen the risk of injury and a system of visual indicators to let the occupant know that the heater is on. The guidelines would provide the number of hours and maximum temperatures that would result in first degree burns. Automakers would also be advised to implement changes to heating mechanisms by including a monitoring system to take the temperature of the seat, establish a maximum seat temperature, and include an automatic device to disengage the heater when the temperature exceeds its threshold level. Several auto manufacturers have been found to have seat heaters that surpassed the maximum temperatures in certain places.

Lawsuits Against Manufacturers

Some manufacturers have responded to consumer complaints through small scale recalls or settlements. Mercedes-Benz settled a lawsuit that required the manufacturer to replace seat heaters in over 270,000 SUVs after a lawsuit by a car owner who claimed to have received a burn from sitting on an overheated seat.

If you or a member of your family suffered injury or death as a result of negligence or a defective automobile, contact the attorneys Alexander Law Group, LLP. Our exceptional personal injury lawyers will answer your questions and get you the maximum compensation that is possible. Call 888.777.1776 or contact us online.

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