What to Expect When Your Car Wreck Case Goes to Trial


Not all car wreck cases are settled out of court. Sometimes, the insurance company or the person who caused the wreck may refuse to settle the case. When that happens, you may need to take your case to court and have a civil trial, where you request the jury to decide the outcome. But that raises the question: what exactly goes on during a civil trial?


A trial is a formal legal process where both parties present their evidence to a jury. While a judge oversees the trial and makes rulings on legal issues, the jury listens to witnesses’ testimony, examines exhibits, and determines the facts of the case. The jury then decides whether the defendant is legally responsible for the plaintiff's injuries and, if so, how much compensation the plaintiff should receive.


In Mississippi, as in all states, a trial has several stages, which vary depending on the jurisdiction and the complexity of the case. However, the general stages are as follows:

  • Opening statements: Both sides, through their attorneys, give a brief overview of their case and what they expect the evidence to show.

  • Plaintiff's case-in-chief: The plaintiff presents the evidence and witnesses to support their claim. The defendant's attorney may cross-examine the plaintiff's witnesses to try and poke holes in their testimony.

  • Defendant's case-in-chief: The defendant presents their evidence and witnesses to refute the plaintiff's claim or to show that they are not liable. The plaintiff's attorney may cross-examine the defendant's witnesses to try and poke holes in their testimony.

  • Closing arguments: Both parties summarize their case and explain why the jury should rule in their favor.

  • Jury instructions: The judge instructs the jury on the law that applies to the case and how to look at the evidence and arguments.

  • Jury deliberation and verdict: The jury goes to a private room to discuss the case and reach a decision. The jury then returns to the courtroom and announces their verdict.

  • Post-trial motions and appeals: Either party may file motions to challenge the verdict or request a new trial. Either party may also appeal the verdict to a higher court if they believe that either the judge or the jury made the wrong decision at some point (including the verdict).


Going to trial can have both advantages and disadvantages for the plaintiff. Some of the potential benefits are:

  • Higher compensation: The plaintiff may be able to recover more damages than what the insurance company or the defendant offered in a settlement.

  • Justice and accountability: The plaintiff may feel more satisfied by having their day in court and holding the defendant accountable for their actions.

  • Public awareness and deterrence: The plaintiff may raise public awareness about the dangers of negligent driving and encourage other drivers to drive more carefully.


Some of the potential risks are:

  • Uncertainty and unpredictability: The plaintiff cannot control the outcome of the trial, which ultimately depends on the jury's decision. The jury may find the defendant not liable or award less compensation than the plaintiff expected or deserved.

  • Stress and emotional toll: A trial can be stressful and emotionally draining for the plaintiff, who may have to relive their traumatic experience.

  • Time and expense: The trial process can take a long time, sometimes years, to complete. The plaintiff may incur additional legal fees, court costs, and other expenses during the trial.


Going to trial is a serious decision that should not be taken lightly. Every plaintiff should weigh the pros and cons of taking their car wreck case to trial and consult with an experienced personal injury attorney who can advise them on the best course of action. If you have recently been in a car wreck, call or text our office as soon as possible to schedule your free consultation. An attorney will immediately contact you to discuss the details of your case and what steps you can take to make sure you receive maximum compensation for any damages, pain, and suffering you have experienced.

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