Car Accidents in Mississippi

The Differences Between a Settlement and a Verdict in Car Accident Cases

If your personal injury claim results in compensation for you, you get there one of two ways: a settlement or a verdict. As a victim, it is important to understand the very significant differences between these two paths, what is most likely to occur in your case, and what factors may affect the direction your case takes.

Having an experienced Mississippi car accident lawyer can help you know what to expect and limit your anxiety throughout this process. Call Gardner Law Group at 228-436-6555 to set up a consultation with our team right away.

The Process

Both paths generally start out the same. The majority of personal injury claims are settled during negotiations and result in settlements, so that’s the path that your attorney will pursue first. After investigating your accident, your attorney will put the evidence together in a way that highlights the other party’s culpability and your losses. They’ll send a demand letter to the liable party’s insurance company, and from there, negotiations commence. If they agree on a number, you receive a settlement and the process ends. If negotiations fail, your attorney will file a lawsuit and move forward with court preparations.


The timelines for a verdict and settlement are very different. Settlements can sometimes be negotiated within a few months, although more complex cases may take longer. However, lawsuits resulting in verdicts take considerably longer. Both sides put considerable work into discovery, court preparations, and court strategies. It could easily take several months to a year (or more) for your case to make it to the courtroom.

Potential Outcomes

The outcomes vary, depending on how strong your case is. In the case of a settlement, you either successfully negotiate a settlement or don’t. If your attorney is successful, you receive your settlement and put the accident behind you. If you cannot negotiate a settlement, your attorney will move forward with a lawsuit.

In a lawsuit, the judge or jury will decide that the other party is either liable or not liable for your injuries. If they decide that they are not, you receive zero compensation. If they decide that the other party is liable, the judge or jury will also decide how much compensation you are entitled to for your losses.

Who Decides the Outcome?

During settlement negotiations, the liable party’s insurance company and the victim’s attorney maintain control over the decision-making process. Ultimately, if a settlement is offered, it is up to the victim whether or not to accept it—however, their attorney will give them their professional advice and guidance. At any point, either side can stop negotiating and walk away from the table.

In a court case resulting in a verdict, both sides give up full control over what happens. Their financial future rests entirely in the hands of the judge and jury. This is why many personal injury claims still result in settlements even when both parties have started preparing for court—it allows them to have a say in the process and the ultimate outcome.


A lot comes down to how much risk you can tolerate. There is minimal risk in a settlement. If you don’t get a good offer, you don’t have to accept it. You may have the opportunity for a better offer during trial preparation. Perhaps the most significant risk of a settlement is receiving less compensation than you could have received if your case had gone to trial.

The risks are much greater if your case goes to court. Once your case is in the hands of the court, a number of outcomes could follow. You could get far more than you ever would have received in a settlement. You could get exactly what you would have gotten with a settlement, but much later and after spending much more on court preparation. Or—and this is the worst possible outcome—you could receive nothing because the jury decides the other party isn’t liable. This is why many attorneys push for a settlement; it’s often better than risking zero compensation.

Start Your Claim with Gardner Law Group

If you’ve suffered a personal injury in Biloxi or Pascagoula, let the team at Gardner Law Group help you pursue compensation. You can get in touch with us online, by calling our Biloxi office at 228-436-6555 or calling our Pascagoula office at 228-762-6555.