By Dr. Robi Ludwig
Over the last year, there have been some very high profile automobile recalls and accidents that have caused some very untimely and unfortunate deaths. One of the most recent automobile defects led to the premature death of the high profile and talented actor, Anton Yelchin.
These growing, numerous and unfortunate stories in the news can make even the most self-assured car consumer feel a bit nervous and insecure, and for good reason. We all want to believe and trust that the car we purchase for ourselves and our loved ones can keep us safe and out of harm's way, but this requires getting the right information from the right source.
So, to get the latest information about how to successfully negotiate buying the safest car possible, I consulted famed Washington DC based attorney, Wayne Cohen. He is a familiar national legal expert on TV and Radio where he gives his legal analysis on a variety of topics. Cohen's practice also specializes in wrongful deaths, automobile accidents, product liability, as well as other personal injury areas. Given his vast degree of experience in this unique area, I felt he was the perfect person to interview about this topic for concerned consumers like you and me.
Dr. Robi: Over the last year, there have been some very high profile car issues that have proven fatal for consumers; do you think there's an increase in the car industry's carelessness, and why do you think this is?
Mr. Cohen: There have been numerous recalls and safety concerns that certainly could lead a reasonable person to conclude that there's an increase in carelessness. Whether it's Takata airbags, the RAV-4 recall from Toyota, or the Jeep Grand Cherokee involved in killing actor Anton Yelchin, the industry has seen far too many casualties. There is always a balancing act between cost savings, and safety. Lately, cost savings seems to be winning out.
Dr. Robi: As a personal injury attorney, what kind of car defects and problems do you notice the most?
Mr. Cohen: Our firm has represented thousands of injury victims. Lately, I hear quite a bit about airbags that don't deploy. Sometimes the resulting injuries are truly catastrophic.
Dr. Robi: Even the new electric cars, that have been highly regarded for driver safety as well as considered good for the environment have recently had some issues. What's been problematic with these cars for the consumer?
Mr. Cohen: There have been lots and lots of problems with electric cars. Tesla's self driving Model S had a fatality, and Nissan saw a recall with its 2016 Leaf. Ford also recalled its Focus. Electric cars are wonderful for the environment but present a whole host of other problems.
Dr. Robi: For the person who wants to buy a safe car for their family, or for the first time auto buyer out there, how do they find the safest car to buy these days?
Mr. Cohen: Safercar.gov is a great resource.
Dr. Robi: What should car companies be doing to insure the safety of their consumers?
Mr. Cohen: Education, education, education. Disclose the most likely areas for problems to allow drivers to make informed decisions. Consumers will spend extra money to be safer.
Dr. Robi: Are there any laws that should be put in place to protect consumers from the car industries' failure to protect its drivers?
Mr. Cohen: In the most egregious situations, the criminal system could be extended to cover truly disgraceful conduct.
Dr. Robi: What's the best thing for the victims of this kind of automobile failure to do, once they've been affected?
Mr. Cohen: Immediately reach out to a qualified lawyer to determine your rights. Far too many people try to handle things themselves in the beginning, which hurts the chances for the lawyer down the road.
Mr. Cohen is the founder and managing partner of Cohen & Cohen, P.C. He is also an Associate Professorial Lecturer of Law at The George Washington University Law School since 1993, where he currently teaches Trial Skills. He is also the former President of the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington D.C.