The first thing you should know before learning about what is included in the costs of hiring a breach of contract lawyer, is what it means to breach a contract.
A breach of contract occurs when a party to a contract has failed to uphold their end of the agreement. The terms of a contract are meant to provide the parties with instructions for how to fulfill their obligations. When a party does not do what the contract requires of them, then the non-breaching party is allowed to take legal action against them and can sue them in court.
A breach of contract can be labeled either a partial or a complete breach, and can be assessed by a court as to whether the breach was a minor or substantial one.
Contract cases that involve breach of contract claims can cause many challenging issues to arise. One reason for this is because the law behind these cases is based on the individual laws enacted by each state.
A second reason that a case may present difficulties is due to the subject matter of the contract. While contract cases are of course supported by contract law, the subject matter of a contract can change how those laws are applied and also may require further research into other areas of law.
For example, a contract for the sale of a house will include both contract and real estate or property law. Another example is during the hiring process. An employer and a new employee may enter into an employment agreement. Those types of contracts will entail both basic contract law and employment or business law.
Therefore, if you are involved in a lawsuit for a breach of contract case or would like to file one against a party, you should contact a breach of contract lawyer for further assistance.
A breach of contract lawyer will be able to go over the necessary steps to file, can conduct research regarding the type of laws that apply to your specific matter, and can provide advice regarding the best way to proceed with your case.
How Much Does a Breach of Contract Lawyer Cost?
The costs of bringing a breach of contract case will depend on many factors. For one, it might depend on the terms of the contract. For instance, some contracts have clauses stating the parties that will be responsible for legal fees based on various scenarios.
Another factor that might have an effect on costs are the claims being asserted in the lawsuit. For example, how many issues are involved in the matter? Is it a basic breach of contract action or are there many complexities? How long will the case take to go through the court process? As is evident from these questions, there are many things that can change the costs of bringing a lawsuit in court.
As for the actual attorney fees, the cost to bring a breach of contract lawsuit may also depend on:
- The individual attorney’s hourly wages (i.e., how much they cost per hour);
- Whether the attorney is paid by the hour or there is some sort of agreed upon arrangement made between them and the client (e.g., a flat fee);
- The time the attorney spends working on the case, especially if they are paid by the hour;
- The amount set by the court for filing fees (this not only varies by state, but also by court and the type of case); and
- Whether the case goes to trial or is settled before it gets to court.
The above list is a general example of some of the costs that are included in an attorney’s bill that gets sent to their client. Many of those items apply to all sorts of litigation matters, not just breach of contract claims.
What Other Factors Cause the Costs of a Lawyer to Vary?
Other major factors that may contribute to altering the cost of a lawyer, specifically for a breach of contract lawsuit, can include the following:
- The Type of Contract Breach: As previously mentioned, a breach of contract can be considered a minor, material, anticipatory, or fundamental type of breach. For minor or partial breaches, it will not change the outcome of the contract. Therefore, the plaintiff will only be able to sue for actual damages, not performance damages.
- In contrast, a material breach is a substantial breach that prohibits a contract from being fulfilled. A plaintiff can sue for more damages than they would be able to if it was only a minor breach.
- A fundamental breach enables the plaintiff to sue for damages and to terminate the contract.
- An anticipatory breach, or anticipatory repudiation, exists when a breaching party refuses to fulfill their obligations before the contract is due. For example, if an employee stops showing up to work, then the employer might anticipate that they are going to break their employment contract. In this scenario, a plaintiff can sue the breaching party either before or after the breach occurs.
- Mediation vs Trial: A breach of contract claim can be settled out of a courtroom setting through either a mediation or negotiation session. In general, mediation is usually the quickest way to resolve a breach of contract dispute. Arbitration is also another avenue that the parties can use to settle outside of a traditional courtroom. Cases that cannot be resolved, will need to go to trial.
- Note that the cost of an attorney increases when they have to prepare and present a case at trial.
- Remedies for Breach of Contract: A remedy is an award that is issued to the plaintiff as a way to make them whole again (i.e., before or as if the contract never even existed).
- Some common examples of remedies might include different types of damages, restitution, specific performance, or cancellation of a contract. Sometimes the type of remedy that a plaintiff receives includes a portion that has to go to their attorney.
Should I Talk to a Lawyer About My Breach of Contract Case?
As discussed above, if you have been involved in a matter where the terms of a contract have been breached, then you may require the assistance of either a contract lawyer or business lawyer in order to resolve your issue.
The assistance of a lawyer will be especially beneficial to you if the breach of contract resulted in significant damages. A lawyer can help you to recover for the damages that you suffered and can ensure that your rights as a party to the contract are being adequately protected.