We have a team of private investigators that gathers evidence for each case, including witnesses, if there are any. I am always looking for information that our investigators can sift through. For example, emails, text messages, and a multitude of other platforms. People observe affairs all the time, and they just do not talk about it. If your investigator can catch the person, or catch them in uncompromising situations it can be helpful to the case.
We will ask our clients do you recognize this person? Have you ever seen them together? Well yeah. Well tell me about that. When was that? I mean piece things together, or utilize someone from work that notices that person’s behavior. Do they seem different, or a little more off than normally? If they know something is wrong, something is not right with the marriage, where can we find those people. If you can talk to them, many of them will help you build your case.
Are These Cases Generally Settled Or Are They Tried?
Not all of those cases go to trial. Most of these cases are settled outside of the court system. Therefore, generally, many times prospective clients have unrealistic expectations about how much their cases are worth. I mean you find that in personal injury cases as well. In our state, that is especially unusual, because the number of cases that we have here, have been highly publicized by the media. We have had a few multi-million-dollar jury verdicts in North Carolina, so it is easy for a prospective plaintiff to come into our office, and feel like they are entitled to a million-dollar verdict, but in most cases that is just not realistic.
Even if a jury feels like the case is worth that much money, the question you have to ask the plaintiff at that time is basically where are we going to get that from. Even if you get a million-dollar verdict, if the defendant does not have that kind of money, you are going to get a piece of paper that says you won. You will never be able to collect that amount. We try to give our clients realistic expectations if we take the case for the plaintiff, and we try to have them be realistic. It works the same way if we are defending the case, we try to be realistic with the other side as to how much they think they are going to receive once this is said and done, because it costs a lot of money to litigate.
What Are The Damages Available In Alienation Of Affection Cases?
Like most civil actions, there are generally two types of damages for these kinds of cases. There are compensatory, and there are punitive damages. To lay that out to more of a nonprofessional’s understanding, compensatory damages are damages that compensate for a loss of an injury. It is designed to make the plaintiff whole. In other words, it is designed to put you back to a place that you were before the injury occurred. In addition, we cannot do that, but money is what we strive for in the civil system. So if we can prove the defendant is liable in cases like these, compensatory damages are given. Punitive damages on the other hand deal with damages that were meant to punish certain types of behavior so that they will not happen again.
Punitive damages send a message that this type of behavior is wrong, and that it will not be tolerated. An example of a compensatory damage in this kind of event would be a loss of support. If you have people working two different jobs, especially in this day and age, and the husband and wife’s work contributes to the whole of the marriage, then there is your loss of support claim. Loss of services in the home, loss of consortium, loss of affection, any kind of emotional distress that the person would receive from having this kind of an injury, an injury to your reputation, and injury to your health, loss of sexual relations, losses resulting from an eventual separation, and divorce.
Some of these cases can have really long-term and reaching implications for the party that is affected.
Does There Have To Be A Pending Divorce For This Case To Be Filed?
There does not have to be a pending divorce for a case to be filed. For example, alienation of affections cases: let us say husband and wife are happily married. A paramour comes in, alienates the affection of the wife from the husband, and they have an affair. The wife comes back home and apologizes, tells husband that she wants to try to work things out, husband is not sure, takes wife back, tries to get over it, but just cannot get over it, and then basically he and his wife separate. The husband can still file the alienation of affection claim at that point, because he tried to forgive, but he could not.
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