Despite being the subject of periodic criticism and skepticism from various quarters, heart balm claims are alive and well in North Carolina, presumably for good reasons.
Cheating and extramarital affairs, after all, do cause a lot of emotional heartache, and while they cannot restore marriage, heart balm claims can help a spouse feel that their pain has been acknowledged and justice has been served in some way.
Previous posts on this blog have discussed the various types of heart balm claims, what one has to prove in order to get compensation, and the like. Some residents of Charlotte might wonder, however, whether they can collect punitive damages following a successful heart balm claim.
This may be a particularly important question when, emotional fallout aside, a person really was not financially harmed by the breakup of their marriage.
Under North Carolina law, punitive damages are available for most tort claims. Punitive damages are additional compensation designed not so much to cover a victim's loss as to reinforce that the defendant's behavior is unacceptable. Since they are torts, punitive damages can be and have been awarded in North Carolina heart balm claims, sometimes in substantial amounts.
Of course, someone asking for punitive damages as part of a heart balm claim still has to meet the same special standard of proof as anyone else asking for punitive damages. Other legal rules and restrictions that apply to punitive damages would also apply in heart balm claims.
Whether punitive damages are appropriate and likely to be awarded depends heavily on the facts of one's case. A Charlotte family law attorney with experience handling heart balm claims can answer specific questions and help a person evaluate his or her legal options.