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Breach of Contract

TEXAS BREACH OF CONTRACT LAW

If you enter into an agreement with someone, what happens if they fail to follow up on their portion of the agreement? In Texas, if you can prove a party failed to live up to their end of the bargain, you may be entitled to damages for a breach of contract, including your actual damages suffered plus your attorneys’ fees incurred in filing the lawsuit. Here is a brief summary of Frequently Asked Questions I get about Texas Breach of Contract Cases.

What do you have to prove to win a Breach of Contract Case?

To win your breach of contract case, you’ll have to prove the following elements:

  1. There is a valid, enforceable contract;
  2. You are the proper party with standing to bring the lawsuit;
  3. You performed, tendered performance of, or were excused from performing your contractual obligations;
  4. The defendant breached the contract; and
  5. The defendant’s breach caused you to suffer injury.

If you can prove elements 1 – 5 above, you are likely entitled to collect your damages caused by the defendant’s breaches of contract.

What constitutes a “Contract” in Texas?

While the meaning of “Contract” may seem straightforward, as with many legal concepts, its legal meaning may differ from your everyday understanding. To prove a valid contract exists, you should be able to show the following:

  1. An offer to enter into a contract;
  2. Acceptance by another party of the offer you made; and
  3. A meeting of the minds or understanding that a contract has been formed.

When proving up your contract, it is always the best evidence to have a written instrument laying out all of the terms and a signature from each party that agrees to the terms. That is usually going to be conclusive evidence of a contract. If there is a lot of back and forth of contract negotiations, the final written instrument is going to usually be the best evidence of what both sides finally agreed to.

Can you have an oral contract in Texas?

The short answer to this question is: Yes, a contract can be an oral one in Texas. However, oral contracts are harder to prove than written contracts. It is always the best practice to reduce your contractual agreement to a written instrument, which is signed by all the parties. If you have a case that must rely on an oral contract, you’ll want to collect as much evidence as you can showing that the oral contract was made. For example, if there are emails discussing the oral agreement or if the opposing party has committed any acts in furtherance of the oral contract, then this evidence will be very useful in helping you prove up the existence of an oral contract.

What type of damages can I expect in a Breach of Contract Case?

You are entitled to recover “actual” or “economic” damages in a breach of contract case. Determining the amount of damages will focus on your monetary loss due to the defendant’s breach. One way to calculate these damages is your expectation interest in defendant’s performance under the Contract. For example, let’s say you agreed to sell $2 million in office equipment to ABC Manufacturing, Inc. You deliver the office furniture to ABC Manufacturing, Inc., but ABC Manufacturing, Inc. refuses to pay for the furniture. You now have a valid breach of contract claim to recover $2 million in actual damages (your expectation interest). While this example is straightforward, there are many complex issues that can arise when calculating your actual damages. It is always best to consult an experienced breach of contract attorney to determine the best damage model for your case.

Can I recover my attorneys’ fees in a Breach of Contract Case?

Whether or not you can recover your attorneys’ fees will depend on the type of party that breached your contract. If you are suing a corporation or individual for breach of a contract, you can usually recover your attorneys’ fees incurred during the lawsuit. If you sue another type of business entity, you may not be able to recover your fees. Again, you’ll definitely want to consult an experienced attorney to determine if your case is one allowing for a recovery of your attorneys’ fees.

What type of work on my part can I expect in a Breach of Contract Case?

As with most cases, in a Texas Breach of Contract Case, you can expect to need to help gather documentary evidence relating to your claim. This will include things like a copy of the Contract at issue, any discussions about the Contract at issue, any communications with the opposing side about the Contract, and any documents showing the performance (or lack thereof) of either side to the Contract. You can also expect to have to give your deposition, which will consist of the opposing side getting an opportunity to question you under oath about your case. If your case is not resolved and goes to trial, you can also expect to give trial testimony in front of a jury about the issues in the case. Your attorney will handle most of the other work involved in your case, which can be substantial, so be sure you hire an attorney with a lot of experience in this area of the law.

How much will a Breach of Contract lawsuit cost me?

This answer will vary largely depending on the facts of your case. There are some straightforward contract cases, which can usually be resolved quickly through a summary judgment motion. You can expect these cases to be relatively cheap. There are also very complicated contract cases, which require a jury trial to resolve all of the issues. You can expect these cases to be more expensive. As discussed above, you may also be entitled to recover your attorneys’ fees. If you have a particularly strong breach of contract case and a defendant is big enough to pay your fee award, you may sleep easier knowing you will likely get paid back for anything you put into the suit. Depending on the strength of your case, an attorney may be willing to take your case on a contingent fee basis. If you have any specific questions about the potential costs of your case, please be sure to give me a call directly for your free consultation.

How long is the statute of limitations in a Breach of Contract Case?

The statute of limitations in a breach of contract case is four years, which means you should always try to bring your breach of contract case within four years from the date the breach occurred. There are some instances where this time period may be extended, but you never want to bank on one of these exceptions applying to you. I always advise clients to get your claim on file as early as possible and before any arguable expiration of the limitations period.

Brad Laney. Brad is a business litigation attorney in Houston with substantial experience in breach of contract lawsuits. If you need help with your case, please do not hesitate to contact Brad for your free consultation: Blaney@raleybowick.com or 713-429-8056. Brad is happy to talk with you directly about your case, and your discussion will be kept confidential.