Kia and Hyundai Agrees to Pay $760 Million to Settle US Class Action Lawsuits Over Engine Fires
Kia Motors has said it is issuing a vehicle defect recall for more than 507,000 vehicles in the United States because an electronic glitch may prevent airbags from deploying during a car accident. According to a Reuters news report, this recall follows an announcement in March by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that it was looking into why some airbags had failed to deploy in Kia vehicles and some Hyundai vehicles after crashes that resulted in four fatalities and six injuries involving both automakers’ vehicles.
Electrical Overstress is the Issue
In all, both companies have recalled nearly 1.1 million vehicles to address these airbag defects. NHTSA said in March that it knew of six serious crashes in which the airbags failed to deploy in frontal crashes including four in 2011 model Hyundai Sonatas and two in 2012 and 2013 Kia Forte vehicles. The crash of the 2013 Forte happened in Canada. Kia’s recall, which was issued June 8, covers 2010-2013 Kia Fortes, 2011-2013 Kia Optimas and 2011-2012 Kia Optima Hybrid and Sedona vehicles.
According to Kia’s statement, the airbag control unit may short circuit due to electrical overstress preventing deployment of the frontal airbag and seatbelt pretensioners, which secure the driver and front seat passenger firmly to their seats. The company also said it does not have a fix yet for this issue, but is working on it. In February, Hyundai issued a recall for 154,000 U.S. Sonatas for the same issue.
In April, the company recalled an additional 425,000 for the same problem. NHTSA said the airbag control module, which is under investigation, was manufactured by Germany-based ZF Friedrichshafen AG. According to NHTSA, electrical overstress appeared to be a major factor in a 2016 recall involving 1.4 million Fiat Chrysler vehicles, where airbags failed to deploy in frontal crashes as well.
Auto Product Liability Issues
When airbags fail to deploy during a frontal crash, the consequences can be devastating. Some of the injuries that may be sustained include head injuries, facial injuries and severe internal organ damage. Airbags provide us with that much-needed additional layer of protection in the event of a car crash. It appears that four people have already died and several others have been seriously injured due to these deadly vehicle defects.
If you or a loved one has been injured or if you have lost a loved one as the result of an defective auto, please contact an experienced auto defect lawyer to better understand your legal rights and options. You may be able to file an auto product liability claim to hold the automaker accountable and obtain maximum compensation for your losses.