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4 Deaths Linked to Defective Hyundai-Kia Vehicles, Airbag Failures

Damaged car with passenger door open and view of deployed airbags

Federal regulators have announced a probe into defective Hyundai and Kia vehicles after discovering defective airbags equipped in the vehicles have resulted in four deaths.

Previous Recall Documents Failed to Disclose Injuries and Deaths

Last week, Hyundai filed documents with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recalling 155,000 2011 Sonata vehicles for defective airbags. Hyundai said it was aware of four “incidents” involving the defect, but the recall documents made no mention of deaths or injuries.

However, in documents posted on NHTSA’s website on Saturday, the agency revealed that it had received reports of six front-end crashes involving the recalled vehicles, resulting in four deaths and six injuries.

Additionally, NHTSA announced that an estimated 425,000 vehicles could be affected by the defect, not just the 155,000 Sonatas recalled by Hyundai, and added 2012 and 2013 Kia Forte compacts to their probe. The airbag failures have been traced back to electrical circuit shorts in airbag control computers made by parts supplier ZF-TFW.

NHTSA says all six crashes it is currently investigating occurred between 2012 and 2017, with four of the crashes involving Sonatas and two involving Fortes. Hyundai has admitted that airbag control circuitry was damaged in three crashes while the fourth crash remains under investigation.

Hyundai and Kia Were Already Under Previous NHTSA Investigation

This is not the first time Hyundai and Kia have faced an investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In May of last year, NHTSA opened probes to investigate whether Hyundai and Kia had acted quickly enough to recall more than 1.6 million cars and SUVs prone to engine stalls.

NHTSA noted that such a failure can drastically increase the risk of crash, posing a significant hazard to owners and other motorists.

That investigation is still pending, and the agency is also investigating whether the automakers followed safety reporting requirements.

Other Examples of Large Airbag Recalls

Over the past decade, there have been multiple widespread recalls on vehicles containing defective and dangerous airbags.

  • Takata Corp. (2013 – present) — Eleven deaths have been attributed to airbags manufactured by Takata, which are present in 42 million vehicles across 19 different brands
  • Fiat Chrysler (2016) — Several deaths and injuries were linked to a software defect, causing airbag deployment and seatbelt failure
  • GM Chevy Cruze (2014) — Thousands of vehicles were recalled due to a manufacturing flaw that could prevent airbags from deploying in an accident
  • GM SUV (2014) — More than one million GM SUVs were recalled after faulty wiring could keep side airbags from deploying in the event of a collision

Contact an Experienced Airbag Defect Attorney

If you or a loved one suffered an injury due to a defective or faulty airbag, contact Thomas J. Henry. Our experienced vehicle recall lawyers are available 24/7, nights and weekends to provide you with a free case review. If an airbag or vehicle manufacturer’s negligence caused your airbag injury, you may be entitled to recover damages to cover medical costs, pain and suffering, and lost wages.

Our firm has offices in Corpus ChristiSan Antonio, and Houston, serving clients across Texas and nationwide. Contact us today for a free legal consultation.

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