Do I Have a Breach of Contract Claim?
Contracts are legally binding promises that permeate every facet of our personal and professional lives. Indeed, in today’s world, entering into a contract of some sort is unavoidable. While most contracts conclude with a satisfactory performance by the parties, when one party fails to perform as promised, a breach of contract has occurred. This article provides a short overview of what is required to establish a legal claim for breach of contract.
Understanding the Essential Elements of a Claim for Breach of Contract
In order to establish a successful claim for breach of contract, a plaintiff must generally plead and prove the following:
- The existence of a legally binding contract between the plaintiff and the defendant;
- The defendant’s failure to perform one or more of its obligations under the contract; and
- That the plaintiff incurred damages due to the defendant’s failure to perform.
Let’s take a look at each of these essential elements separately. First, three things are required to demonstrate the existence of a legally binding contract: an offer, an acceptance of that offer, and the exchange of consideration between the parties.
Offer and acceptance are common concepts and readily understood. Consideration is simply something of value. For example, in a simple contract for the sale of goods, each party provides something of value: the seller is providing the goods, and in exchange, the buyer is providing money or some other currency. That thing of value (i.e., the goods) that is being provided in exchange for something else of value (i.e., the money) is the consideration for the contract.
After establishing the existence of a contract, the plaintiff must show that the defendant failed to perform, or breached, one or more of its obligations under the contract. For example, returning to a simple contract for the sale of goods, the seller can breach by delivering the wrong goods, or by failing to deliver the goods within the time specified in the contract; the buyer can breach by failing to make timely payment or by failing to pay in full.
Finally, the plaintiff must establish that it suffered damages as a result of the defendant’s breach. Damages are specific to the contract and the circumstances but may include direct damages and/or consequential damages. Direct damages are those that result directly from the breach of contract, such as the difference in the value of the goods agreed upon and the goods that are actually delivered. Consequential damages are those that are associated with the breach but not directly caused by the breach, such as lost profits.
FSKS is on Your Side
Of course, most breach of contract claims are far more complicated than the example discussed here. The more complex the contract and the relationship between the parties, the more important it is to have an experienced attorney on your side to evaluate your claim and ensure the maximum recovery. FSKS has substantial experience handling many different types of breach of contract claims in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. If you would like to speak to an attorney about whether you have a valid breach of contract claim and, if so, how best to pursue it, please call us at (973) 538-4700 and ask for Alan Golub to schedule an initial consultation.