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| Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

Over the years, technology has provided vehicle owners with many “bells and whistles” that helps make commuting more enjoyable and comfortable. One such option is heated seats. Although this may seem like a luxury option, when those winter temperatures arrive, heated seats are quite the welcome feature. But is the feature worth the possible risks of burns that vehicle occupants may face?




According to the advocacy group Safety Research and Strategies Group, the lack of regulation and oversight for heated vehicle seats have left consumers vulnerable to injury. Instead of any regulations being issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), vehicle manufacturers are adhering to company-written and voluntary standards. This means that no warnings have been issued and no recalls for any potential dangers to consumers, despite the number of well-documented complaints of heated seat incidents.

Safety Research and Strategies Group has collected data from consumers who have complained of malfunctions with their seats, from having no heat at all to having such high heat it burned through victims’ clothing and burned skin.

In a six-year period, the NHTSA received almost 140 complaints from consumers who reported incidents of heated seat malfunctions. Almost half of these complains involved actual fires igniting when the heated seat option was engaged.

Vehicle manufacturers list seat heaters maxing out at between 86- to 113-degrees Fahrenheit, however, these temperatures can sometimes go all the way to 150-degrees. A third-degree burn can occur within 10 minutes when the temperature reaches 120-degrees, so this fluctuation in temperature clearly poses a serious burn threat to consumers, especially those with diabetes, neuropathy, or paralysis who do not have the ability to feel the danger in time.

Safety advocates are urging the NHTSA to institute a temperature threshold regulation, proposing a 105-degree limit, pointing out that the current lack of regulations allow the seats to get too hot.

Contact the Legal Team of Shapiro & Appleton

If you or a loved one has sustained an injury caused by a dangerous or defective product, contact our personal injury firm for a free and confidential case evaluation.

At Shapiro & Appleton, our Virginia product liability attorneys know how devastating a defective product accident can be for a family. Several years ago, our firm represented the estate of a man who was killed when the lawn mower he was on exploded and the victim burned to death. Not only was the manufacturer aware that the plastic fuel tank and fuel line connection was insecure, but they had designed a new fuel tank within a year after the victim had purchased his mower and never alerted consumers of the prior defect.

The company also denied there were any other reports of fires caused by their lawn mower, but an intensive investigation by our attorneys revealed not only were there other reports but that the company was fully aware. The jury found in favor of the victim’s family with an award of $2.5 million.

If you or someone in your family has been a victim of a defective or dangerous product, contact a Virginia personal injury attorney today at 800-752-0042 for a free and confidential case evaluation.

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