Hyundai Sonota Seatbelt Recall

Product Liability

Hyundai Motor America issued a recall on March 8, 2017 of 2011-2014 Hyundai Sonota gasoline and hybrid sedans due to a front seat belt assembly that may be defective.  Hyundai indicates that the anchor pretensioner may not fully latch when the linkage is pressed into the connector.  In a crash, the seat belt can detach from the anchor pretensioner resulting in nothing holding the occupant of the vehicle.  One minor injury has been reported.

How Many Vehicles Are Involved In The Recall And What Should You Do?

Hyundai indicates that there are 977,778 potentially impacted vehicles subject to the recall.  An estimated 1% of those vehicles is expected to be defective.  If you have one of the potentially effected vehicles, Hyundai recommends that you bring the car to an authorized dealer for an inspection to determine whether the defect exists in your car.

Delaying An Inspection May Impact Your Personal Injury Claim

Product manufacturers have a defense if the consumer is negligent or fails to correct a known defect by having it serviced.  In order to avoid blame for an injury or death as a result of a defective seatbelt, you should at least make an appointment with a Hyundai dealer for service.  If you have an appointment scheduled because Hyundai cannot service the vehicles any faster, your claim may not be impacted of the fact that you had knowledge of the recall.

A Seatbelt Recall Is A Big Deal

No one ever thinks that they are going to be involved in an accident when they go out on the road.  As many people say that an accident happens when you least expect it, you do not want to suffer an injury because you had the opportunity to get your vehicle repaired but did not do so.

Further, if you own one of the recalled vehicles and you know about the recall (because the manufacturer mailed you a notice of the recall), then you may become legally responsible if another person gets injured because of the product defect.

Finally, someone who causes an accident may have a legal defense (probably only a partial legal defense) to a car accident if there is a product recall but you have not had your vehicle repaired.  If your negligence caused the accident, then your claim may be one of crashworthiness of the vehicle involved.

Legislative Overruling of D’Amario Decision

Please note that in recent years, Florida allows testimony of how the accident happened in crashworthiness cases (see D’Amario v. Ford, 806 So. 2d 424 (Fla. 2001)-which allowed a jury to consider a product liability claim without reference to the underlying facts of how the accident occurred).  Subsequent to D’Amario, the Florida Legislature amended section 768.81, Fla. Stat. (Florida’s “comparative fault” statute) to read:

(b) In a products liability action alleging that injuries received by a claimant in an accident were enhanced by a defective product, the trier of fact shall consider the fault of all persons who contributed to the accident when apportioning fault between or among them. The jury shall be appropriately instructed by the trial judge on the apportionment of fault in products liability actions where there are allegations that the injuries received by the claimant in an accident were enhanced by a defective product. The rules of evidence apply to these actions.

The purpose of this amendment to the statute was to discourage people from bringing personal injury claims after an accident that was their fault even when the dangerous product is what caused or enhanced the injury.  For example, if you rear end someone but the seat belt fails, the supporters of the statute want a jury to consider that the person never would have been hurt if they had never caused the accident in the first place.  There are differing opinions as to whether this is the right public policy to have on this particular legal issue, however, this is the law in Florida nonetheless.

Talk To A Lakeland Product Liability Attorney About Your Case

If you think that you have a case involving a dangerous product or sustained an injury because of a recalled product, you should contact a Lakeland product liability attorney for an opinion on your case.  With over 10 years of legal experience practicing personal injury and related matters, we can tell you rather quickly whether your case has merit.  Schedule your free consultation today.


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March 17, 2017