Updated on: 11/7/2019
Cynthia Becker has been a paraplegic since a 1998 car crash, was then later diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005. Following her diagnosis, she suffered third-degree burns from a seat heater in her car on Christmas Day.
She lied on her side until May of 2006 as she recovered from a mastectomy and surgery on the burns across her backside. She had two more surgeries on her burns to follow.
Becker spent five hours in a 2001 Cadillac Eldorado with her seat heaters on high. In 2009, tests were performed on the seat heater by Engineering Design and Testing of Kansas, showed the seat heater reached 115 degrees after 20 minutes while on low and from 124 to 150 degrees on high.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has investigated six automakers' seat warmers and conducted nine recalls since the mid-1980s. Volkswagen, BMW, Rolls-Royce, Mazda, Chrysler and Volvo have all had seat heater recalls.
General Motors, parent company of Cadillac, would not comment on this issue.
"You don't need to warm someone's seat to the point it burns them," says chief of the burn injuries unit at Shriners Hospital for Children in Northern California David Greenhalgh, who co-authored a study on the issue in 2003.
He says that 105 degrees is the maximum temperature a seat should ever reach. Greenhalgh says that the length of time a person is exposed makes the burn deeper and very difficult to heal.
Auto defects can be very destructive and dangerous to drivers and passengers. If you have been injured by an auto defect, contact Seattle personal injury attorney Chris Davis at (206) 727-4000 for a free consultation.