Most of us are usually excited when signing a contract or orally committing to one. A new project for a long-awaited deck begins. Sellers rejoice at a quick sale of their house. The transport company is going to move all your belongings and set everything up in your new apartment.
Unfortunately, problems sometimes occur between the signature date and the performance deadline, and everything swiftly falls apart. The builder goes out of business. The sellers decide they don’t want to part with their vacation home after all. The furniture arrives in your new living quarters, but pieces are chipped, broken or even missing altogether.
All of a sudden, you are in the middle of a California breach of contract, and you have no idea what to do next.
Breaches Develop When Signers Don’t Take Contract Obligations Seriously
Simply put, a breach of contract occurs when one of the parties to the agreement does not carry out what they legally committed to do in the contract. Many factors may contribute to this.
One cause is the failure to realize a contract carries the full weight of California law. For example, someone who would never dream of stealing an item from a store may not see a problem with neglecting to pick up and pay for a custom-made table ordered at a craft fair because a relative offered to make one at half the price. If the individual signed an order form or orally agreed to pay a certain amount of money upon delivery of the item, they are obligated to carry out this commitment.
You Must Have a Contract To Prove a Breach Exists
If you are forced to take legal action because another party did not fulfill their part of a contract made with you, the first thing you must prove is that a valid contract exists. A copy of the signed written agreement is obviously the best evidence. An oral contract is just as binding but makes establishing the exact terms more difficult. It helps to have witnesses to any oral agreement you make. In some cases, such as covenants concerning property transfers, the law requires a written contract.
Whether or not the contract is in writing also affects the statute of limitations for a breach of contract. In California, the statute of limitations for a written contract is four years from the date the contract was broken, while a two-year statute of limitations from the date the contract was broken exists for an oral contract.
California Allows Residents To Pursue Legal Remedies Themselves
The State of California allows residents to represent themselves in a number of legal situations. The California Courts website provides excellent information, as well as tips for individuals considering self-representation.
You can pursue legal action for contract breaches in two ways, depending on the damages involved. If the other party to the contract owes you over $5,000, you can file a civil lawsuit yourself for a breach of contract. If the amount involved is $5,000 or less, you should seek resolution in Small Claims Court.
Before deciding to initiate a lawsuit yourself, look over the forms and instructions. This gives you an idea of the time and effort involved.
An Attorney Can Explain, Advise and Help
Taking time to get a professional opinion pays off in any legal situation. You can then make an informed decision about representing yourself or seeking further assistance.
Legal action, even if you fill out, file and serve the papers yourself, is not always the best path to take when a breach of contract occurs. A lawyer can assess your circumstances, outline your choices and consequences and help you determine the wisest course of action. For example, a letter written by an attorney to the party failing to fulfill contract obligations can often have a positive effect and solve the problem.
Take the Opportunity for a Free Initial Consultation
At Brent George Law, our mission is to provide quality legal assistance at an affordable price. If you are facing damages and confusion from a breach of contract, our attorney will sit down with you and listen to your situation without charge for this first meeting. Call (805) 494-8400 to schedule an appointment today.