Here in Southern Florida, many of us cringe when the temperature drops below 50 degrees. To keep warm on those chilly nights and mornings, we often turn to the heated seats in our cars. But could these seats be putting us at risk for serious injury?
According to safety experts, heated car seats could pose a burn danger. In fact, over the past six years, the National Highway Traffic and Safety Commission has received 138 complaints regarding malfunctioning heated car seats, with reports ranging from a burning smell to visible flames. Mercedes and BMW were the two makes most frequently involved, with 34 and 27 complaints, respectively. Twenty-eight of the Mercedes complaints involved the M-Class or the GL-Class.
One complainant said that the burning smell started shortly after he put the car into Drive. Within a mile, according to the report, "I felt intense heat on my left side and saw smoke coming out of the seat. Upon exiting the car, I saw that my seat was on fire."
The NHTSA investigation was prompted by concerns raised by Sean Kane, president of Safety Research & Strategies Inc. and Dr. David Greenhalgh, chief of burns at Shriners Hospitals for Children, Northern California. In his letter to NHTSA Administrator David Strickland, Kane recommended that the federal agency reexamine its approach regarding heated car seats and "categorize seat heaters that exceed well-established human tolerance as defective and encourage automakers to recall them."
Meanwhile, Greenhalgh's research highlights the significant injuries that can be caused by seat heaters. Once the skin is burned in a weight-bearing area, such as the buttocks, it's difficult for the wound to heal, and the injured people "basically can't sit" during that time, he said.
Karen Aldana, a NHTSA spokeswoman, declined to comment on how long the agency's investigation into heated car seats will take. Part of the analysis will involve determining "whether the frequency and severity of this condition may create an unreasonable risk to safety," the federal agency said in a statement.
The Dellutri Law Group is focused on making bad situations better and putting lives back together. If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in a Florida accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation.
To learn more about your legal options, contact our experienced Florida injury attorneys for a free consultation.