Lawsuits involving breach of contract are becoming more and more common. There are many reasons why a breach of contract lawsuit may be necessary. Often times, an individual or company may fail to deliver the services or products for which they were paid and refuse a refund. Other times, this individual or company may cost you heavily through negligence that was promised against in the contract and may refuse to reimburse you for losses. There are many reasons why breach of contract lawsuits happen, but if you feel one is necessary, it’s important to be prepared before you go through the legal process in the first place.
Consider the Statute of Limitations
While generally a breach of contract lawsuit is considered right away, sometimes individuals sit on it for years due to either being unable to hire representation, or not being aware of the breach of contract long after it happened. While statutes vary from state to state, generally the time frame is between two and four years, with some special situations being even shorter. It’s important to consider the laws of your state before hiring an attorney.
Breach of Contract Must Be Material & Cause Damage
The law requires that a breach of contract be material and result in damages before an individual may sue for it and obtain a financial recovery. For example, if a project was completed a few days after the contracted completion date, you may only sue if some significant loss occurred because of it. If your business needed structural work done, for example, and the work was performed after the contracted date, you may be liable for damages if you had to keep your business closed and consequently suffered losses during that time.
Damages must be in the form of money lost or not earned due to the breach of contract and must be material, or of significance. State guidelines vary on what is considered material, and you will need to consider them to see if your losses are considered significant enough to pursue a lawsuit.
Mediation & Arbitration
Many contracts today contain mediation/arbitration clauses. This means that before a lawsuit is pursued, the parties must submit to mediation or arbitration to determine if it is possible to resolve the matter without a lawsuit. These clauses are included in contracts in order to give the parties a fair opportunity to resolve the matter in good faith before seeking legal recourse.
Fortunately for many individuals, this may resolve the matter without any additional recourse being needed. If you are participating in mediation and/or arbitration prior to seeking a breach of contract lawsuit, it’s important to consider both the damage that was caused by the breach of contract as well as the cost of taking the individual to court if a solution is not found. Some individuals even consult with an attorney prior to engaging in the mediation/arbitration process so that they can be advised on what a fair resolution might be in lieu of taking the other party to court. In some cases, the matter may not be worth pursuing financially and coming to a resolution outside of the courts is the best bet. Many times the other party is aware of this, and it may be the reason they felt comfortable violating the contract in the first place.
Determine the Appropriate Court to File Your Lawsuit
Once you’ve determined that mediation or arbitration is not possible, you will need to determine the appropriate court to file your lawsuit. Usually this process is easier if you have sought legal representation. Your attorney can consult with you about which court your paperwork will be filed through and may file much of it for you.
Some factors to consider include if the damages are small enough to file in small claims court, or large enough to require your state’s civil court for resolution. Other factors include the state of residency of the party you are suing. If you both live in the same state, your local civil court or small claims court is sufficient. If the defendant is located in another state, you will have to consult state guidelines to determine which state will have jurisdiction over the matter. If not explicitly stated, you may be able to file suit in your own state’s civil court.
Determine How You Will Serve the Defendant
You will want to get the address and general contact information for the individual or company you are seeking to sue. It’s important that they be located in order to be served court documents for the lawsuit. Some states require a legal representative serve the individual, while others allow delivery by mail. When preparing your court documents, you should be able to get information on what is required and any fees that may be necessary.
Prepare Your Complaint and Documentation
Finally, you will want to prepare your complaint for filing and also gather any documentation you have. This may include a copy of your contract and any other information relative to your case. At this point, you will likely already have an attorney helping you if your case makes financial sense in hiring one. Your attorney should be willing to advise you on how to file your complaint and prepare your case.
Hiring an Attorney
Hiring a professional attorney, breach of contract lawyer California, and having assistance in preparing your paperwork is essential to having the best chance of winning your case. It is worth the time to speak with an attorney about your case to determine what representation you need.
Webb Law Group is a professional law firm ready to assist you with your business related legal issues. For questions, or to schedule a consultation, contact us today at 559.431.4888 (Fresno) or 619.399.7700 (San Diego).