Question #1: Do You Only Focus on Car Defect Cases?
While many lawyers accept any kind of accident and injury case (e.g., slip-and-fall accidents, dog bites, insurance disputes, worksite injuries, medical malpractice, etc.), you'll get the best results with an attorney whose only focus is on car defect cases.
Ask the lawyer how many car defect cases he's filed. If you have an air bag case, inquire about the number of air bag cases investigated and filed. You should also request a list of representative car defect cases and ask which ones involve issues similar to your case.
Question #2: Do You Have Direct Experience in the Automotive Industry?
If a lawyer is suing a car company on your behalf, you want one who truly understands how the automotive industry works. An attorney who is an industry "insider" can tell you ...
- How the decisions are made on what design is used
- What testing and analysis is usually conducted on their products
- Who are the key personnel conducting the research and analysis
- What documents should have been generated during the design and development process
- What documents will be most helpful for your case
- How internal investigations are handled
Question #3: Do You Have an Engineering Background?
Most car defect cases are highly technical in nature and involve input from many different engineering experts: accident reconstruction, design analysis, testing, biomechanics, etc. A lawyer with an engineering background will understand each expert's analysis and ask intelligent questions about the strengths and weaknesses of your case.
In most cases, significant time in car defect cases is spent asking questions under oath from the car company's engineers and experts. An attorney with an engineering background understands what questions to ask so you have the best possible chance of proving your case.
Question #4: Will You Work on My Car Defect Case, or Will You Delegate the Work to Junior Lawyers and Associates?
Some law firms use the senior lawyer to bring in cases. Then, after the initial meeting, the case is turned over to junior lawyers/associates and paralegals. You want an experienced lawyer handling your case.
Why should your case serve as a training ground for an inexperienced junior lawyer or paralegal?
Question #5: Will You Be Available When I Need You?
It's likely an attorney from a "9-to-5" law firm won't be available when you need him. You want a lawyer who is available during evenings and weekends, and willing to meet at a time and place that is convenient for you.
A lawyer who is truly willing to accommodate you will often give you a cell phone number and, of course, provide you with regular updates so you always know the next steps in your case.
Question #6: How Much Does it Cost to Hire You?
A car defect attorney should never make you pay an up-front fee just to consult with you. In addition, you should never pay attorney fees or any investigation costs until compensation is recovered for your injuries.
Be careful with attorneys who "nickel and dime" you for typical office expenses such as ordinary mail, copies, telephone or fax charges.
Question #7 (Ask Yourself This): Do I Trust the Lawyer?
If you can't trust the lawyer, don't hire him. Here are some ways to determine if an attorney is trustworthy:
- If a lawyer tells you how much your case is worth during your consultation, run away. A good lawyer understands the value of the case will depend on a complete investigation and won't create false impressions.
- Has the lawyer ever been disciplined by courts or legal authorities? Ask the lawyer and research this information with the State Bar and on the Internet.
- Some lawyers advertise multi-million-dollar jury verdicts. Find out if any of those verdicts were reversed by a Court of Appeals. That usually means the client did not recover any of that verdict.
- Some lawyers spend millions of dollars on advertising. However, many of these lawyers don't handle car defect cases themselves, but outsource the work to others for a large fee. If this happens to you, your lawyer ends up being someone different than the one you thought you had hired.