What Is Additur & Remittitur?
In many legal cases, a trial by jury often returns a verdict awarding a certain amount of money to the plaintiff. Typically, both parties involved, the plaintiff and the defendant, have the ability to appeal the decision that the jury makes.
Sometimes, the jury awards excessively high or excessively low damages. This could result in an appeal of the case or the need for a new trial. However, additur and remittitur can also be used to increase or decrease the amount of damages awarded by the jury as a condition of a denial of a motion for new trial.
Additur is the power the trial court has to assess the damage is returned by the jury. This also represents the ability of the trial court to increase the amount of an inadequate award made by a jury verdict. However, an increase of the verdict amount will be made as a condition of a denial of a new trial (which the plaintiff may have considered) and with the consent of the defendant in the case. The consent of the plaintiff is not necessary for additur to take place (they would, after all, be receiving more money).
Damages assessed by the jury could be set aside when the amount returned is “shocking to the judicial conscious,” typically meaning that the amount so inadequate as to constitute a miscarriage of justice. The powers of additur may also be used if it appears that the jury was influenced by passion, prejudice, corruption, or if they made a mistake.
As opposed to additur, remittitur is the process by which an excessively high jury verdict is reduced. If the amount of damages awarded by a jury are grossly excessive, the judge may order a plaintiff to “remit” a portion of the award amount. The goal or remittitur is to ensure that the plaintiff receives compensation for the case without the necessity of going to a new trial or an appeal (the defendant is very likely to request a new trial or appealed the decision if they grossly excessive damage amount is awarded to the plaintiff).
Can judges in Georgia use these mechanisms?
Under Georgia law (O.C.G.A. § 51-12-12(a)), judges may use additur or remittitur if it is determined that the award amount is “clearly so inadequate or so excessive as to be inconsistent with the preponderance of the evidence.”
If you or somebody you care about is going through a personal injury trial process, please work with an attorney throughout the entirety of your case. Personal injury trials can become incredibly complicated, and getting to the award portion of the case takes time. In general, most personal injury matters are resolved through insurance settlements or through negotiations before a jury trial occurs. However, if the jury in your case returns a verdict that is excessively low or excessively high, a judge may use the court’s powers of additur or remittitur. A personal injury attorney in Georgia will be able to help you understand these terms should the situation arise where these powers are used.