California residents with Kia or Hyundai vehicles may be interested to know that several states are investigating the two automakers after a series of automobile fires in Connecticut. The Connecticut Attorney General has stated that there have been hundreds of reports of such fires. It is not yet known how many states are taking part in the investigation.
Since 2015, the South Korean car makers have recalled over 2.3 million vehicles due to engine fire risks. However, many of the fires reported in Connecticut affected vehicles that had already been repaired during the recall. This suggests unfair and deceptive acts among the automakers.
In November 2018, Reuters reported that criminal investigations had been launched to determine if the automakers conducted the recalls properly. Two years earlier, a South Korean whistleblower had reported similar concerns to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The NHTSA may specifically launch an investigation into Kia and Hyundai vehicles with the "Theta II" engines, which were behind the first recall in 2015. Hyundai had recalled 470,000 U.S. Sonata sedans with Theta II engines, saying that engine failure may lead to the vehicle stalling. Kia did not follow suit with its own vehicles that had Theta II engines. In 2017, however, the recall expanded to 572,000 Hyundai Sonata and Santa Fe Sport vehicles and 618,000 Kia Optima, Sorento and Sportage vehicles.
Those who are injured by defective products or machinery may be able to file product liability claims. The defect in question could be a design, manufacturing or marketing defect. Victims injured in an engine fire may thus have a case involving manufacturing flaws. It might be of benefit for a victim to consult with an attorney who could negotiate for a settlement.