Contracts are everywhere in your everyday life, even if you don’t always notice. Your purchase and sale agreement for buying or selling a house is a contract, your cell phone bill is a contract, your divorce may result in property division agreements that are contracts as well. Every time you swipe your credit card to pump gas, you’ve accepted an offer to purchase gasoline and agreed to pay for it – that’s a contract, evidenced by your receipt. If you need a service completed, you contract for someone to complete that service. The majority of contracts are fulfilled as expected, but some contracts are not. What happens in these cases?
The Elements of a Contract
Attorneys are well-versed in contract elements. They are taught this subject for two semesters in law school. An attorney practicing contract law can explain the elements a contract breach. Where there is a valid contract, if one party to it fails to complete the transaction as bargained for, they are in breach of contract. In Rhode Island, a breach of contract claim must be brought within 10 years of the breach, or within 20 years if it is an action on contracts under seal or an action on a court judgment.
To meet the breach of contract elements, you must show that you were performing your obligations under the contract. Or, you can argue that you were ready and willing to do so. Additionally, you must prove that the other party was not performing its obligations under the contract or was asked to and did not. If these breach of contract elements are met, and there was a valid contract, then you can sue for breach of contract within the appropriate timeframe.
What happens once you’ve established that the breach of contract elements are met, and that there was a valid contract in place? A court may find that the other party breached the contract, and award you damages based on the facts. Generally, a court will try to place the parties in the positions they would have been in if the contract had been performed as agreed to.
These damages include money for losses and can even require a party to perform their obligations under the contract. You, the non-breaching party, must have taken reasonable efforts to lessen your damages, however. If there were damages you could have reasonably avoided and instead you sat idly by, a court will likely prevent you from recovering for those damages.
The questions of whether or not an agreement is a valid contract and whether or not the breach of contract elements have been met are determined through previous case law. Without knowledge of the cases, it is harder to show how your case proves a valid contract existed and was breached.
Working with an attorney allows you to take the facts specific to your case and prove that those facts show a valid contract and fulfill the breach of contract elements. Our office is in a good position to make these claims clear from a legal perspective.
Contact us today at 401.477.0023 to discuss your case if you think you have been damaged by a breach of contract by another party.