When you have entered into a contract with another party, you are doing so with the expectation that both the other party and yourself will perform certain actions to uphold the contract. When a meeting of the minds occurs and a contract results, expectations and actions are built for all parties to the contract to follow. But a breach of contract could occur if one or more of those parties do not perform as the contract has specified. There are several reasons that a breach of contract may occur. By understanding those reasons and the remedies that may address them, you can be better prepared if you become involved in a breach of contract lawsuit.
The reasons that a breach of contract could occur include when one or more actor fails to act as the contract specifies, when it becomes impossible for one or more actor to act as specified, or when one or more actor indicates that they have no intention of acting as specified. As long as the contract in question has been properly documented to show the promises made by all parties in writing, you will have actionable cause to sue for breach of contract.
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Many breach of contract cases originate in small claims court. This is because most contracts that are breached are for issues that have a low dollar amount associated with their outcome. The limitations imposed by small claims courts can vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but a general rule of thumb is that if the amount to be recovered is less than a few thousand dollars, it can proceed in small claims court. When you take a case to small claims court, you can generally represent yourself. It is always best, however, to seek legal advice so that you are aware of all of your options.
When the dollar amount in question is higher than the limits of small claims court or when your legal counsel would find it more advisable to proceed with a civil suit, you will go before a judge and potentially a jury to ask for damages as related to the loss you have suffered due to the breach of contract. The judge, and potentially jury, will assess the merits of your case within the context of the statute of limitations if it is applicable, and determine the amount to which you are entitled to recover. Alternatively, a judge may order the rewriting of a contract, if it is mutually beneficially to both parties, with terms that can be better upheld.
If you're involved with a contract dispute, consult with an attorney to determine your options.