The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) began investigating why some airbags failed to deploy in Hyundai and Kia vehicles after crashes in which four people were reportedly killed and another six were injured. The NHTSA reported six serious crashes that involve failures to deploy, which included four 2011 Hyundai Sonatas and two 2012 and 2013 Kia Forte vehicles.
Airbags can cause injuries when they don’t work in several ways. For example:
• Airbag deployment failure: Airbags may not deploy when they are needed. People can be seriously injured when the airbag does not protect their bodies.
• Unnecessary deployment: Airbags should not deploy in every situation. Minor collisions do not require airbag deployment. When airbags deploy, it’s not as if a soft pillow gently emerges. There is a gaseous release and serious force involved. Airbags can actually injure people if they deploy suddenly when not anticipated or needed.
• Mis-sized airbags: If an airbag inflates too much or too little it can cause or contribute to injuries. When there is too much, an oversized airbag, it can hit the driver or passenger violently causing an injury like a concussion or serious bruising. If an airbag was not properly designed or put together, it can inflate incorrectly and not provide the intended protection thereby exposing occupants to injuries from the inside of the vehicle.
• Incorrect positioning: Airbags are supposed to be positioned in and inflate in very particular ways. Serious injuries can arise from mistakes in either manner.
In February, Hyundai issued a recall for 154,000 U.S. Sonatas after non-deployment reports were linked to electrical overstress in the airbag control unit. In April, Hyundai recalled an additional 425,000 U.S. vehicles to address the same issue.
Now, a few months later, Kia issued a recall of 2010-2013 Kia Fortes, 2011-2013 Kia Optimas, and 2011-2012 Kia Optima Hybrid and Sedona vehicles. The problem is that there could be a short circuit due to “electrical overstress” that stops deployment of the front airbags and seat belt pretensioners (these things keep the driver and front seat passenger in their seats).
To see if your vehicle is included in the recall, visit the NHTSA website and enter your VIN number. One in eight Americans drives in a vehicle with a potentially defective airbag. If you have been a victim of an airbag defect, causing you severe injuries or burns after a crash, contact us now at KBA Attorneys.