Due to Seat Belt Defect, Hyundai Recalls 978,000 Sonata Vehicles

Hyundai Sonata Cars Recalled, Defective Seat Belt can Detach

A seat belt defect is prompting Hyundai to recall nearly 978,000 cars in the United States. The recalled vehicles may contain a faulty front seat belt that can detach in an accident, failing to protect the rider. According to government documents, the seat belt issue stems from an assembly defect where the fastener for the seat belt anchor may not have been fully latched during assembly. The seat belt defect has been linked to one minor injury so far, Hyundai says.

Parker Waichman LLP has decades of experience representing clients in product liability lawsuits involving allegedly defective and dangerous products. The firm continues to offer free legal consultations to individuals with questions about filing an auto recall lawsuit.

Vehicles affected by the recall include Hyundai Sonata midsize sedans from the 2011 through 2014 model years, as well as the Sonata hybrid from model years 2011 through 2015.

Reportedly, the company learned of the problem in September. An owner reported that their front passenger seat belt detached in a 2013 car accident. Hyundai says it will start notifying owners of the issue on April 7.

According to Fortune, Hyundai estimates that the seat felt issue affects roughly 1 percent of the recalled vehicles.

Parker Waichman comments that the auto industry has been subject to several high-profile safety issues in recent years. Last month, Takata pleaded guilty to felony charges related to its exploding air bags and General Motors (GM) continues to face lawsuits involving its faulty ignition switch, which was linked to 124 deaths.

Takata Exploding Airbag Scandal Leads to $1B Settlement, Company Pleads Guilty to Felony Charge

Takata has been involved in the largest recall in the history of the automobile industry. Due to defective airbag inflators that can explode under pressure, 19 different automakers have recalled a total of 42 million vehicles. Takata exploding airbags have been linked to 11 deaths and 180 injuries.

According to the New York times, Takata switched to cheaper, but less stable propellants containing ammonium nitrate in the early 2000s. The company has faced severe criticism for allegedly manipulating test data, among other things.

Takata reached a $1 billion settlement related to the exploding airbag issue. On Feb. 27th, the company pleaded guilty to felony charges of wire fraud. The government alleges that Takata falsified safety data for its airbags. Three executives were also indicted on charges of wire fraud and conspiracy.

“Automotive suppliers who sell products that are supposed to protect consumers from injury or death must put safety ahead of profits,” said U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade of the Eastern District of Michigan, according to a Department of Justice press release. “If they choose instead to engage in fraud, we will hold accountable the individuals and business entities who are responsible.”

GM Ignition Switch Defect Leads to Lawsuits, Deaths

Another massive auto recall was launched by GM in 2014, affecting a total of 30 million vehicles. The cars were recalled due to an ignition switch defect that can cause the ignition to unintentionally slip into the “accessory” position from the “run” position. This defect mostly occurs when there is a jarring event, such as a bump in the road or too much weight on the keys. The GM ignition switch defect has been linked to 124 deaths.

The ignition switch recall affected vehicles including: 2005-2010 Chevrolet Cobalt, 2007-2010 Pontiac G5, 2003-2007 Saturn Ion, 2006-2011 Chevrolet HHR, 2006-2010 Pontiac Solstice and 2007-2010 Saturn Sky vehicles.

In September 2015, GM agreed to pay $900 million in a criminal settlement, including $595 million towards a compensation fund for the families of victims who died. The company admitted in a Deferred Prosecution Agreement that “from in or about the spring of 2012 through in or about February 2014, GM failed to disclose a deadly safety defect to its U.S. regulator… It also falsely represented to consumers that vehicles containing the defect posed no safety concern.”

GM came under fire when it reports showed that the company allegedly knew about the issue a decade before launching the ignition switch recall.

GM ignition switch lawsuits have been filed both individually, and in the form of class action lawsuits. Individual federal cases have been consolidated into a federal multidistrict litigation (MDL). USA Today reports that GM settled three bellwether ignition switch cases before the lawsuits began trial.

MDLs are used to make large, complex litigations more efficient. They are a type of mass tort where similar lawsuits are grouped together in one court before one judge, which helps streamline the legal process. Consolidating cases into an MDL speeds up litigation and makes pretrial proceedings more efficient. In an MDL, lawsuits remain separate and plaintiffs are treated individually. A class action lawsuit, on the other hand, is one lawsuit that represents a large group of plaintiffs that allege being wronged by a common defendant in the same manner.

Filing a Hyundai Sonata Seat Belt Recall Lawsuit

If you or someone you know is interested in filing a lawsuit involving the Hyundai Sonata seat belt recall, contact one of our product liability lawyers today. Parker Waichman offers free, no-obligation case evaluations. For more information, fill out our online form or call 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).

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