In recent years, vehicle theft has become an alarming concern, especially in certain states like New York. A subset of vehicles, specifically some models of Hyundai and Kia manufactured between 2011 and 2022, have been at the epicenter of this issue. A group of concerned New York Assembly members have taken a bold step, penning a detailed letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). They urgently call upon the federal agency to exercise its power and mandate a recall of these specific vehicle models, spotlighting their pronounced vulnerability to theft.
This heightened susceptibility, according to the letter, stems from a concerning oversight by Kia and Hyundai during the vehicle production process. Between 2011 and November 2021, many of the automakers’ more affordable models were devoid of engine immobilizers, an essential anti-theft mechanism. Astonishingly, while engine immobilizers were practically ubiquitous in the auto industry, becoming standard in a whopping 96% of vehicles from other manufacturers by 2015, they were only present in a mere 26% of Hyundai and Kia models of that year. Adding to the vulnerability is the easily manipulated ignition switches present in these models. Together, the absence of immobilizers and the simplistic ignition switches have rendered these vehicles a prime target for thieves.
The gravity of the situation caught the public eye largely due to a social media fad dubbed the “Kia Challenge”, which further shone a spotlight on the ease with which these vehicles could be stolen. Staggering statistics from Erie County, as stated by Governor Kathy Hochul’s office, drive the issue home: vehicle thefts rocketed by an alarming 213% in the initial seven months of 2023 compared to the same period the previous year. Reacting to this escalating public safety menace, Governor Hochul unveiled an initiative to counteract the theft surge, with a particular emphasis on the vulnerable Hyundai and Kia models.
Legal Recourse for Affected Vehicle Owners
Owners of these vulnerable Hyundai and Kia models might have legal remedies at their disposal. If they have experienced theft or related inconveniences due to the absence of engine immobilizers and easily bypassed ignition switches, a product liability lawsuit could be on the horizon. In such cases, victims might seek damages for the loss of their vehicle, emotional distress, financial losses linked to the theft, and any associated costs they had to bear, such as insurance premium hikes.
Manufacturers are obligated to ensure that their products, including vehicles, meet industry standards and are safe for consumers. When companies fall short of this duty, affected consumers can hold them legally responsible. Those who have been victimized due to the compromised security features of their Hyundai or Kia vehicles might be eligible for compensation.
Take Action Now with Parker Waichman LLP
Are you an owner of one of these Hyundai or Kia models and concerned about its security vulnerabilities? Or worse, have you already fallen prey to vehicle theft? You need not face this challenge alone. Parker Waichman LLP, a renowned national product injury law firm, is here to stand by your side. With their expert guidance, you can explore potential legal options and seek the justice you deserve. Don’t wait another day; reach out now for a free consultation by calling 1-800-YOUR-LAWYER (1-800-968-7529). Let Parker Waichman LLP be your legal ally in this challenging time.
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