Are you involved in a breach of contract case in Texas? Maybe your employer hasn’t complied with an employment contract, so you’re suing for breach of contract. Maybe a supplier or vendor hasn’t fulfilled their end of an agreement, so you’re looking for remedies for breach of contract.
Breach of contract cases in Texas can be very straightforward or incredibly complex. Each case is unique, and a variety of factors will determine how complicated each case becomes. To following article will explain the important points you need to understand about breach of contracts.
What Is a Breach of Contract?
A breach of contract occurs when one party doesn’t hold up their end of the bargain. However, it isn’t just as simple as that. The parties must have been operating with clear obligations that are laid out in a contract. When one party fails or refuses to do something that was promised under the contract, a breach of contract occurs.
Proof of Valid Contract
For a breach of contract to take place, you need to first prove that a valid contract was in place. While the contract can be oral or written, written contracts are always easier to prove. (And sometimes, written contracts are the only ones that will be enforceable.) Whether written or oral, the contract must have the following basic elements under Texas law.
- An offer by one party to the other
- An acceptance in strict compliance with the terms of the offer. Both parties are clear on what is expected.
- A meeting of the minds
- A communication that each party consented to the terms of the agreement
- Execution and delivery of the contract with the intent that it will be mutual and binding on both parties
When these elements are in place, Texas law recognizes the contract as valid, and you can move forward in a case if part of that contract has been breached.
Proof That the Contract Was Breached
Next, you need to show proof that the valid contract has been breached. Again, Texas law requires specific elements to be in place to show that a contract has been breached.
- The existence of a valid contract
- The plaintiff performed or tendered performance according to the contract terms
- The defendant breached the contract, meaning the defendant didn’t follow through on his or her agreement in the contract
- The plaintiff was damaged because of the defendant’s breach
The breach must be material, meaning the breach deprived a person of the benefit they were contracted to receive. There are several factors that determine if the breach is material, and defendants can make several defenses to the breach of contract claims.
Defenses to Breach of Contract Claims
If you are being accused of breaching a contract, there are several potential defenses you can take. In Texas, there are actually dozens of common law and statutory defenses that will apply to different situations. These are some of the most common defenses to breach of contract claims:
- The contract was required to be in writing, but that never happened. A real estate contract, for example, that isn’t put in writing may not be enforceable in court.
- The essential terms of the contract are missing. A contract must be specific in regards to pricing information, length of the term, and more. If it isn’t clear what both parties are required to do, the contract may not be enforceable.
- The contract was only entered into because of fraudulent information. If you entered a contract in which material facts were misrepresented, you may not be required to follow the contract.
- The statute of limitations has been reached. In Texas, you must file a breach of contract claim within four years. If the claim is filed after that point, it may not be recognized.
- The circumstances have changed outside of one of the party’s control, and it is no longer possible for that party to perform the duties outlined in the contract.
- The party suing has already accepted a lesser payment that indicated an agreement between the parties to discharge the existing obligation.
- One or both parties did not understand the terms of the contract. One party may claim that the contract isn’t enforceable because of a mistaken belief.
- The parties entered into a new contract to replace the old. An old agreement may no longer be enforceable if the two parties have entered into a new and valid agreement.
- There is approval by the party now being sued. If the party being sued can prove that the other party approved its inaction or action, that party may not be responsible for following the contract.
How Are Breach of Contract Damages Decided?
Some contracts list the penalties that will be enforced if one party breaches the contract. However, not all contracts lay out specific penalties. In these cases, the court looks at several factors, including specific losses, to determine the damages, and awards damages based on what makes sense to the case. The following are some examples of potential remedies for breach of contract.
- The party in breach will be ordered to fulfill the terms of the contract.
- The plaintiff will be paid money that was lost because of the breach.
- The plaintiff will be awarded compensation for time lost.
- The plaintiff will be reimbursed for expenses.
- The plaintiff will be awarded compensation for future time, money, and expenses lost.
- The plaintiff can recover reasonable attorney fees.
What Are the Statute of Limitations?
Each state has a unique statute of limitations period, ranging from three to fifteen years. In Texas, there is a four-year statute of limitations for breach of contract claims. This means you forfeit your right to file a claim unless you file your lawsuit within four years from the actual date the contract was breached.
This statute of limitations exists so that reasonable diligence is kept. In addition, it’s possible for a defendant to lose evidence over time to prove breach of contract. The statute of limitations protects the defendant in these instances.
Breach of Contract Lawyer
With so many grounds for breach of contract, and with so many potential defenses to a breach of contract claim, this isn’t a legal matter you want to take on yourself. Whether you’re being sued, or you need to get the justice you deserve because someone breached a contract with you, you need an experienced and competent breach of contract lawyer in Austin on your side. Ben Carrasco knows the law and will ensure the possible outcome in your breach of contract case.