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Hyundai Fined $17 Million For Failing to Report Brake Defect

According to an article published by the National Trial Lawyers, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has announced that Hyundai will pay $17.35 million in civil penalties and comply with NHTSA oversight requirements for failing to report a safety-related defect in one of its car models.

The defect in question affects the 2009-2012 Hyundai Genesis car model and its brake system. The NHTSA has reported that the critical brake system components may corrode, leading to reduced effectiveness of brakes and an increase in the risk of a car crash.

“Safety is our top priority, and all automakers should understand that there is no excuse for failing to report a safety-related defect, as required by law,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in the NHTSA news release. “This Administration will act aggressively and hold automakers accountable when they put the American public at risk.”

NHTSA determined that Hyundai had been aware in 2012 that brake fluids used in the model year 2009-2012 Hyundai Genesis did not sufficiently inhibit corrosion in key components of the vehicle’s brake system. Hyundai, instead of issuing a recall, instructed car dealers to change the brake fluid in affected vehicles without explaining the consequences of failing to change the brake fluid. Hyundai did not inform Genesis-model owners of the potential safety consequences of not having their brake fluid replaced. It was only after an investigation by the NHTSA that Hyundai finally issued a recall of the affected vehicles.

The NHTSA said in their news release, that there have not been any reported fatalities relating to this safety defect. However six consumers reported collisions, and there were two reports of injuries. As of January 14, 2014, Hyundai had received 87 consumer complaints with regard to Genesis vehicles, most of which suggest increased difficulty in braking.

According to NHTSA Acting Administrator David Friedman, “Federal law requires automakers to report safety-related defects to NHTSA within five days, and neither NHTSA nor the American public will accept anything less. Hyundai failed to act to protect their customers and others that were harmed in an accident, and must change the way they deal with all safety related defects.”

Hyundai has agreed to make improvements to its processes for identifying, reporting, and communicating safety-related defects in a timely manner. This includes the creation of a U.S. Technical Committee to review and make decisions regarding potential Hyundai-specific safety recalls. Hyundai will ultimately be responsible for responding to safety concerns in a timely manner based on the Technical Committee’s recommendations.

Like all product manufacturers, automakers bear the responsibility of ensuring that their cars are mechanically safe and do not pose a threat to drivers. And when car companies fail at making sure their cars are safe, they are liable if and when an individual is injured because of their negligence.

At Altman & Altman LLP, our seasoned Products Liability Attorneys have nearly 50 years of knowledge and experience handling all types of defective products and products liability cases, and we have the skills to fight against large consumer products companies so that our clients achieve the highest financial compensation for their injuries. If you or a loved one was a victim of the GM recalled ignition switch, or if you were injured as the result of a faulty product, call our office today to speak to an attorney to discuss your legal options and whether you might qualify for a products liability claim. All initial consultations are completely free of charge and of no obligation to you. Our team of lawyers is available around the clock to answer any and all questions you may have about your case.