Breach of Contract Lawyers
What Is a Contract?
A contract is a legally enforceable agreement between two parties. Each party to a contract makes a promise to either perform a certain duty or pay a certain amount. If one party fails to act as promised, and the other party has fulfilled the duties under the contract, the other party is entitled to legal relief.
Oral vs. Written Contracts
Generally, both written and oral (spoken) contracts are legally enforceable. It is always best to write down the terms of the contract in case there is some dispute between the parties after the contract is formed. If the contract is oral, the parties to the contract may later remember different details about the contract terms, or forget certain terms entirely.
What Is a Breach of Contract?
A breach of contract is a failure to fulfill the duties under the contract terms. A contract can be breached in the following ways:
- One party does not perform as he or she promised
- One party does something that makes it impossible for the other party to perform the duties under the contract
- One party makes it clear that he or she does not intend to perform the contract duties
What is a Breach of Contract Damages Award?
When one party has breached the contract, the party who has performed is entitled to various remedies for the breach. One of the more common remedies for a breach of contract is a damages award. This is monetary compensation that must be made by the breaching party to compensate the other party for losses and other expenses connected with the breach. A damages award may include:
- Consequential damages - This requires the breaching party to pay the non-breaching party an amount that puts the non-breaching party in the same position they would have been in if the contract was performed
- Punitive damages - Courts can force the breaching party to make a payment as a punishment for the breach of contract
- Liquidated damages - The parties agree, at the time they make the contract, that if one party breaches the contract, the breaching party should pay a specified sum. Thus, this is an amount written in the contract
- Nominal damages - This is a minimal amount provided to the non-breaching party if that party won the case but did not financially lose much
What is a Breach of Contract Equitable Remedy?
In some breach of contract claims, a damages award may not be appropriate, or it may not be allowed under law. In such cases, the court may order an “equitable remedy” rather than a monetary damages award. An equitable remedy consists in the court ordering one or both of the parties to take certain actions to resolve the dispute. Some equitable remedies include:
- Specific performance - A court can require the breaching party to perform their duties under the contract. This is afforded for unique circumstances.
- Rescission - A court can pretend like the contract never existed. Here, neither party would be required to perform the obligations under the contract. If there has been performance by one party, the court does its best to put that party in the same position he or she was in before the contract was formed.
The Time Limit for Filing a Breach of Contract Lawsuit
Every state has a certain time limit, called a statute of limitations, in which a lawsuit must be filed after a breach of contract. If a party wants a remedy for a breach, and they do not file within this time limit, that party cannot file a lawsuit. The amount of time for filing a breach of contract lawsuit varies by state.
Why Should I Consult with Breach of Contract Lawyers?
Contract law can be quite complicated. Additionally, every state has different lawsuit filing procedures and deadlines for breach of contract claims. Speaking with breach of contract lawyers about your issue can help you make a clearer decision. An attorney can help identify what is a breach of contract and collect all the proper documents to prove a breach. Further, an attorney can help you negotiate the terms of a contract before you make or accept an offer.
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Last Modified: 05-09-2012 03:32 PM PDT