Disabled individuals are often at increased risk by a dangerous or defective product. Defective seat heaters are an example of how a defective product has severely impacted the lives of many who are disabled.
This grave risk of harm has remained largely unknown, according to Johnson, who authored an article printed in Disabled-World, an online publication geared to news of interest to disabled individuals. Most individuals, when they feel an uncomfortable temperature, merely turn the seat heater off. But people with sensory deficits in the lower body and legs do not feel that heat. They may not even know that the heater is on. Tragically they usually learn of their burns only when they arrive home and remove their clothing in preparation for bed.
Johnson Johnson & Schaller has found that a surprising percentage of seat heaters are defective. Designed to provide heat at safe levels, no more than 105 degrees, many heated seats will produce temperatures as high as 120 degrees F to 160 degrees F. Exposure to 120 degrees F can cause a third degree burn in 10 minutes.
One of the early reported seat heater burns was suffered by our client, a young veteran. When he returned home from the Marine Corps, he bought a four wheel drive vehicle recommended for paraplegics. He did not choose a seat heater, but the vehicle came with heaters in both front seats. After returning home after one of his first trips, he discovered that the skin on his buttocks came off with his jeans as he prepared for bed. He had not known that the heater had somehow accidentally been turned on and had not felt the heat. Engineers who tested the vehicle found that the driver’s seat could generate temperatures as high as 150 degrees F.
While the manufacturer recalled two model years of that vehicle, we have found that many models manufactured in other years, as well as other makes of vehicles, also have dangerous seat heaters and they sadly remain on the road today. Every paraplegic or other person with sensory deficits should be made fully aware of the risk and those seat heaters should be disconnected.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced in March, 2011 that they are analyzing its data to see how widespread the problem of burns from car seat heaters is and whether heaters that can burn people pose “an unreasonable risk to safety.”
Johnson Johnson & Schaller attorney Art Johnson has prosecuted and is currently prosecuting cases against Daimler Chrysler and General Motors for compensation for individuals who have suffered such burns. The goal is not only to obtain fair compensation for the victims, but to cause the manufacturers to permanently remedy those defects and provide clear warnings of the danger to those who use their vehicles.
Free Consultation. If you are a disabled individual who has been injured by a dangerous or defective product, call Johnson Johnson & Schaller, PC, for a free, confidential conversation. We will listen, and help you assess your claim.