Korean automakers Kia and Hyundai have agreed to settle U.S. class action lawsuits over engine fires for more than $760 million. According to a report on ABC News, this could provide more than $760 million in cash reimbursements for repairs and related expenses to Americans who own certain model vehicles. There have been several news reports about fires across the country and lawsuits have been filed against the automakers in Florida, New Jersey and California in federal court seeking damages for the vehicle fires.
Settlement in Progress
However, this is the first news of a potential settlement and the first time Hyundai and Kia have been willing to acknowledge responsibility for the engine fires in federal court. The settlement proposal includes several models including 2011-2019 Hyundai Sonata; 2013-2018 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport; 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe; 2014, 2015, 2018, 2019 Hyundai Tucson; and 2011-2019 Kia Sportage, Sorento, Optima models. So far, the settlement deal does not include the Kia Soul, which was involved in a fatal fire. That incident involved a man who was burned alive inside his mother’s 2014 Kia Soul near Cincinnati.
Court records show the settlement is not yet a done deal. But, in federal filings, both the plaintiffs’ lawyers and defense attorneys for the corporations seemed to agree about the terms of the settlement such as cash reimbursement for vehicle repairs, refunds for towing, rental car expenses related to fires and lifetime warranty coverage for engine repairs. Had this case gone to trial, hundreds of pages of internal documents from Hyundai may have been released in open court.
Catastrophic Fires and Liability Issues
This proposed court settlement would not clear all ongoing legal issues for Kia and Hyundai. An Oklahoma family has filed a separate lawsuit against Kia after their 2019 Kia Soul rental car had caught on fire on an Oahu highway in June during their vacation. The family reported the brakes were not working and that the car came to a stop next to a concrete median, blocking the driver’s side door, trapping 33-year-old Jordan Carlton inside. He remains in intensive care at a hospital burn unit. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in New York City is also looking into whether Kia and Hyundai handled the recalls properly.
Automakers have a responsibility to manufacture vehicles that are safe. They also have an obligation to alert consumers when vehicles have safety issues by initiating a prompt recall. If you have suffered injuries in car fires caused by Kia or Hyundai vehicles, please contact an experienced auto defect lawyer to obtain more information about pursuing your legal rights.