Posted On April 4, 2022 Auto Injury
A car spontaneously catching fire and seriously injuring its occupants or those nearby sounds like a nightmare, but this surreal situation is exactly why automakers Hyundai and Kia told hundreds of thousands of drivers to “park outside and away from structures.” Not everyone has this option, and even if you are able to follow this warning, it doesn’t guarantee that no one will get hurt in a car fire that erupts suddenly—which, in recalled cars, can occur even when the engine isn’t running.
If you or someone you love was injured in a Hyundai or Kia car fire, the same defective components that are now prompting recalls could be to blame for this horrifying situation. The auto defect attorneys at Console & Associates, P.C. are seeking to interview potential claimants so we can evaluate their claims and advise them of their legal options.
It costs nothing to speak to our experienced attorneys about pursuing any financial compensation you may be entitled to and holding automakers accountable for the harm their vehicles have caused. For a free, no-obligation consultation, call (866) 778-5500 today.
In early February 2022, Kia Motors America and Hyundai Motor America both announced recalls pertaining to “an increasing risk of an engine compartment fire,” according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
According to Consumer Reports, some of the warning signs of an imminent engine compartment fire include a melting or burning smell, smoke escaping from the engine compartment, or the much more subtle sign of the ABS warning light glowing on the dashboard.
The possibility of an engine fire exists while the car is being driven but also when the vehicle has been parked and shut off. For that reason, both automakers have urged drivers to park their cars outdoors and away from other vehicles, buildings, and other structures until they can have their vehicles repaired.
Repairs, which will be performed at no cost to the owner and should be scheduled as soon as possible, consist of the installation of a fuse that, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported, is “designed to mitigate the risk of fire.” Additionally, the automakers intend for recalled vehicles’ anti-lock braking control modules to be inspected and, if necessary, replaced during the repairs.
Despite the considerable safety risks posed by a vehicle that could develop a spontaneous engine compartment fire, many owners of affected vehicles still aren’t aware of the danger. USA Today reported that Kia did not mail out notification letters until March 31, 2022, and Hyundai would not mail the notification letters until April 5, 2022.
The Kia recall applies to Sportage SUVs with model years from 2014 through 2016 and K900 sedans with model years from 2016 through 2018.
The Hyundai vehicles recalled include Tucson compact SUVs with model years from 2014 through 2015, Santa Fe and Santa Fe Sport SUVs with model years from 2017 through 2018, and Santa Fe XL SUVs with the model year 2019.
All in all, close to half a million vehicles are affected by the recall, according to CNN Business, including 357,830 Hyundai vehicles and 126,747 Kia vehicles.
What would make vehicles that had not been involved in any sort of collision, and some of which weren’t even running, spontaneously catch fire? According to the NHTSA Consumer Alert, “the cause remains unknown,” but “the manufacturers believe an electrical component in the anti-lock brake system may experience an internal electrical short circuit that could increase the risk of fire.”
CNN Business’s article published on February 8, 2022—just a few days after the recalls were announced—elaborated on the suspected cause of the problem, noting that “foreign contaminants” can cause the anti-lock brake computer control module to short circuit, resulting in a fire beginning in the vehicle’s engine compartment.
At least 11 known vehicle fires associated with the recall had been reported as of early February 2022, according to USA Today. Although the company reported that it was not aware of any injuries or crashes related to engine compartment fires at the time of the recall, the automakers’ lack of knowledge of any harm occurring does not mean that no one has actually been hurt.
Further, as Consumer Reports noted, the two related companies—Hyundai Motor Group happens to own a controlling interest in Kia—have recalled more than 3.5 million vehicles over auto fire risks in recent years. Although these separate recalls have stemmed from various causes, the recurring issue of vehicles catching fire understandably has consumers concerned.
The reality is that car fires are dangerous, causing around 345 deaths and 1,300 injuries each year, according to the National Fire Data Center. Any person who has suffered serious injuries in a Hyundai or Kia car fire or who has lost a loved one to car fire injuries may wonder if they can hold the maker of a recalled automobile accountable.
Although the recall was only recently announced and many drivers have yet to receive a recall notification letter, attorneys are already investigating potential lawsuit claims involving Hyundai and Kia car fires. At Console & Associates, we are actively seeking to interview families like yours and can help you determine at no cost whether you have the grounds to move forward with legal action.
Family members’ shocking deaths, serious burn injuries, and other harms that can result from car fires can change your life forever. You may be able to hold those responsible for these traumas legally and financially accountable. Finding out your legal options is as simple as making a phone call.