The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) has issued a recall of nearly 1.1 million Kia® and Hyundai® vehicles over concerns that defective airbags may not properly deploy during a collision. At least ten incidents of deployment failure have been reported to the NHTSA, with four resulting in fatalities. The Kia and Hyundai models at issue include:
- 2010-2013 Kia Forte
- 2011-2013 Kia Optima
- 2011-2012 Kia Optima Hybrid
- 2011-2012 Kia Sedona
- 2011-2013 Hyundai Sonata
- 2011-2012 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid
This is not the first time Kia and Hyundai have been investigated for similar concerns. In 2017, the NHTSA initiated an ongoing investigation regarding the automakers’ failure to recall SUVs that were prone to engine failure. That recall affected more than 1.6 million vehicles, with the NHTSA specifically focusing on whether Kia and Hyundai reacted quickly enough in issuing recalls and if the companies complied with all requisite safety reporting protocols.
Airbag safety concerns are not a recent phenomenon. Prior recalls include:
- 2013: Takata Corporation– Takata’s airbag recall affected 42 million vehicles across 19 vehicle brands. At least 11 deaths have been recorded to date, and the company continues to add affected vehicles to the list as new defects are discovered. The most recent update to the recall was released in January 2020.
- 2014: General Motors– General Motors issued recalls for defective airbags in 2014. This recall, which involved faulty wiring that prevented side airbags from deploying, affected over 1 million vehicles.
- 2016: Fiat Chrysler– Airbags were recalled on certain Fiat Chrysler vehicles after multiple fatalities were reported. Ultimately, it was determined that a software defect prevented the proper and timely deployment of airbags.
Injuries resulting from these avoidable defects include, but are not limited to:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Neck and spinal cord injuries
- Severe cuts and lacerations
- Hearing loss
- Vision loss
- Fractures and broken bones
Several victims and families have filed lawsuits against Kia and Hyundai alleging that the companies failed to inform consumers about the existence and severity of the airbag defects. Further, it is alleged that the companies concealed injury and fatality reports that reflected faulty airbags as the cause. The four deaths and six injuries caused by the defective Kia and Hyundai airbags were not discovered until a federal investigation was initiated by the NHTSA on March 17, 2018. The results of that investigation elevated the number of affected vehicles cited in the previous Kia and Hyundai recalls from 155,000 to nearly 425,000.
Slater Slater Schulman LLP is currently evaluating potential claims of injuries and fatalities resulting from a faulty airbag. Please call our office at 1-800-251-6990, or fill out the form below, and our office will contact you to discuss your case.