U.S. prosecutors have launched an investigation into whether auto company Hyundai, and its affiliate Kia, conducted engine defect recalls properly. According to a Reuters news report, the two South Korean automakers recalled nearly 1.7 million vehicles in 2015 and 2017 in the United States. It is one of the country’s biggest even recalls, made necessary by an engine failure issue which increased the risk of crashing. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, an arm of the U.S. Department of Justice, has launched a criminal investigation, Reuters reports. If criminal charges are filed, it could lead to hefty fines for Kia and Hyundai.
Ongoing Criminal Investigation
The Department of Justice is coordinating with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on the investigation. Previously the United States has investigated and imposed strict penalties on other automakers such as Toyota and Volkswagen. In 2017, a U.S. judge dismissed a criminal charge against Toyota after it completed three years of monitoring under a $1.2 billion settlement admitting to misleading consumers about sudden and unintended acceleration in its vehicles.
This settlement was the largest penalty imposed by the government on an auto company until Volkswagen paid $4.3 billion in fines for diesel emissions fraud. Apart from this criminal investigation, Hyundai and Kia are also the subject of a probe by the NHTSA into whether their recalls covered sufficient vehicles and if they were conducted in a timely manner.
NHTSA confirmed that it has “active investigations” into engine issues relating to certain Hyundai and Kia vehicles. Safety groups in the United States are also calling for investigations into Hyundai and Kia vehicles that are spontaneously catching fire. So far, at least one death has been linked to this issue in the United States.
Auto Product Liability Issues
Automakers have a responsibility to ensure that the vehicles they make are safe for consumers. When there is a defect or a problem, automakers are required to alert consumers immediately, and issue a recall if there is a defect that needs to be repaired. In the case of Hyundai and Kia vehicles, the defects appear to be safety issues that have the potential to cause serious injury or death. It is their duty and legal obligation to do their due diligence when it comes to safety-related recalls.
If you or a loved one has been injured as the result of an auto defect, you may be able to receive compensation for your losses by filing an auto product liability claim. Families that have lost loved ones to auto defects can seek compensation by filing a wrongful death lawsuit. An experienced auto defect attorney will be able to guide victims and their families regarding their legal rights and options.