No one enjoys a dispute with a business. If you’ve been wronged, you want to know that there is some recourse. If you’ve already tried talking to management or solving the dispute through other means, but haven’t had any luck, it’s time to step up with action that can’t be ignored.
A lawsuit is one of the best ways to be taken seriously, but it’s not always for the faint of heart. Before trying to navigate the California legal system alone, make sure to reach out to a civil attorney in Los Angeles. With the guidance of an experienced contract attorney, you can learn your best options and determine the best steps moving forward.
Here is what you need to know about suing for a breach of contract.
When Can I Sue?
Despite what intimidation tactics you might have endured to talk you out of suing, the truth is that anyone can sue anyone for anything. If you don’t like that your neighbor wears socks with sandals, you can technically sue. The challenge is knowing whether the suit has a chance of winning.
Take note that a judge might quickly throw out a frivolous lawsuit, which means you would not only have to keep seeing those sock-covered feet through your neighbor’s Birkenstocks, but you’d still have to pay the court costs. And any attorney worth his or her salt will refuse to take cases that have no merit or chance of winning. (You’d have to seriously question the integrity of a lawyer who took the sandals case.)
So if you’ve decided you want to sue, let’s get down to it. A contract is a legally binding promise between two parties. Each party agrees to do something in exchange for something else. A breach occurs when one of the agreed-upon commitments are not kept. If a business breaks the terms of a contract, a lawsuit may be in order.
For example, let’s say you pay a contractor to paint your fence. The contractor never shows up, doesn’t return your calls, and then stops by and paints only a small fraction of your border, but refuses to refund any of your payment. You could sue the contractor for the breach in your agreement.
It is often wise to notify the business that they’ve violated the contact before seeking legal action, but that’s not always possible.
Types of contract breaches
If a party fails to perform part of the contract but does not violate the entire agreement, it is known as a minor breach.
If a violation is so substantial that it impairs the whole contract, it is known as a material breach.
A fundamental breach is very similar to a material breach in that the entire contract can no longer be fulfilled. The significant difference is that a fundamental breach is considered much more severe.
If one party lets the other party know that they cannot fulfill the terms of the contract, it is known as an anticipatory breach.
Contact Breach Remedies
The severity of the breach will determine what kind of remedy is available. In some cases, the contract will spell out instructions regarding a breach of contract. There are typically four different kinds of solutions.
To remedy monetary damages, the court can order the business to pay an amount necessary to get what was promised by the terms of the contract.
If your loss is from a business’s direct actions, a court could award you things like lost wages, medical bills, property repair, etc.
Punitive damages are meant to punish the breaching party. These damages are often linked to compensatory remedies.
While not always available, a court can order the breaching party to simply fulfill their broken promises
Do I Have a Case?
Our legal system can be complicated, so it’s not always easy to know if you have a good case. One of the more surefire ways to know is to meet with an experienced business contract attorney. A professional lawyer knows what to look for in each situation and can explain the process, options, and potential outcomes to you.
If you want to be certain before meeting with a lawyer, there are some things you can consider:
Is the contract legal?
For a contract to be enforceable, it must be legitimate. To take it a step further, it must also be easy to prove. While verbal agreements can be legal, it can often turn ugly when one party denies the agreement.
For simple contracts, you can usually read over it and tell if it makes sense. If you’re entering into a more complex arrangement with a business, it’s always best to have your Los Angeles civil attorney provide feedback before signing.
Did you deliver?
Before you can sue for a breach, you must be able to show that you did your part of the agreement. When making payments, make sure to always get receipts or other kinds of proof.
Was there a breach?
You need to prove that the business failed to complete their promise. This can also include fulfilling the promise but with unacceptably poor quality.
Were there damages?
If work needs to be redone or finished, it’s easy to show damages. Ultimately, you need to show that you suffered some loss as a result of the contract’s breach.
When It’s Time to Sue
If you feel that you have a clear case of breach of contract, you can proceed with the lawsuit. For the best outcome, make sure to meet with and hire an experienced business contract attorney.
If you are suing a business, they will most definitely have their own lawyers. Also, make sure that you keep a copy of the signed contract to prove what is in the original agreement.
Finally, try to keep everything in writing. If the business offers excuses or blows you off, you can show the court that you made a good-faith effort to resolve the issue before filing a suit.