Contracts are the foundation of most agreements, from tenancy and sales to employment. Signing on the dotted line means agreeing to the terms and conditions of the contract.
Failing to uphold your end of the bargain can result in a breach of contract. But, what exactly does that mean and what happens to the defaulting party?
Keep reading to learn everything there is to know about damages for breach of contract in Florida and how to protect yourself.
What is a Breach of Contract?
When two or more parties enter into a contract, they’re bound by the words on the page. While some contracts are verbal, it’s always best to get the terms and conditions of your agreement in writing.
Signing a contract means that you acknowledge your responsibilities as related to the terms. When one of the parties involved fails to meet their obligations (as outlined in the contract), this is known as a breach of contract.
Determining whether a breach of contract has occurred isn’t always easy. The first step is to determine if the contract is valid. This is why a written contract is always better than an oral one, although some verbal agreements are enforceable in Florida.
The contract you’ve entered must be valid for you to receive damages for breach of contract. An experienced contract attorney can help determine if the contract is enforceable, if any damages have occurred or if there are any available defenses against the breach.
Florida Breach of Contract Laws
Every state has its own breach of contract laws and Florida is no different. Let’s first take a look at what constitutes a breach of contract in Florida. Here are some of the most common infractions.
- Failing to deliver goods or payment for goods
- Failing to pay rent by the due date
- Failing to provide an agreed-upon service
- Quitting a job and going to work for a competitor (this only applies if the contract includes a non-compete clause)
- Divulging sensitive information as part of a confidentiality agreement
- Anticipatory breach (claiming your intent not to fulfill your obligations as outlined in the contract)
- Misrepresenting the value of the collateral you used to secure a loan and guarantee repayment
Some Florida breaches of contract are cut and dry, while others are more complicated.
Elements of a Florida Breach of Contract
In Florida, a few elements must be in place for a breach of contract to occur. These include:
- Having a valid contract in place
- Damages incurred as a result of the breach
- A major breach of your obligations as outlined in the contract (also known as a material breach)
Most US states require these same elements to constitute a breach of contract.
A valid contract must include certain variables to be enforceable. This includes:
- Each party brought something of value to the agreement
- One party made an offer that the other party willingly accepted
- All parties entering into the contract were of legal age (18 or older)
- All terms of the contract were legal and complied with the Florida Statute of Frauds (if applicable)
- The terms of the contract were reasonably certain
If the contract you’ve entered into isn’t valid, you aren’t entitled to any damages and can’t sue for a breach of contract.
Damages for Breach of Contract
As the party suing for a breach of contract, it’s your obligation to prove damages. In Florida, you have to prove that the other person’s negligence (breach) caused significant damages.
The most common damage that results from a breach of contract is the loss of money. You may also be entitled to expectation damages, which means you lost certain benefits that were promised as part of the agreement.
For example, if you were promised $5,000 from the deal and the other party breached, they’re required to compensate you the full amount. If there are insufficient monetary funds available, the judge may order “specific performance”, which means the breaching party must fulfill their promise and obligations as stated in the contract.
Major Breach of Contract
A major, or material, breach of contract is required to prosecute in Florida. Minor infractions like delivering goods later than the listed date or providing substandard services are not considered material breaches.
There’s no cut-and-dry formula for determining if a breach of contract in Florida is major or minor. That’s why you need an experienced contract lawyer to help determine if you have a case.
For example, a minor breach of contract like goods being delivered late may qualify as a material breach if their late arrival caused significant loss or damages to the recipient.
Collecting Damages for a Breach of Contract in Florida
In most cases, you’ll need an attorney to help with your breach of contract case. Not only can a legal professional determine if a breach has occurred but they’ll build a case that makes you whole again. They’ll also collect evidence to prove the full extent of your damages.
Whether you’re suing for a breach of contract or being sued, you’ll want an experienced team on your side. This is especially important when large sums of money are at stake.
You can also elicit the help of an attorney to draft your contract. This guarantees the document includes all the necessary elements to make it valid and enforceable if there is a breach. A well-written contract can help prevent headaches or a lengthy legal battle down the road.
Having a trusted lawyer on your side is also helpful throughout the process. Even if the agreement goes off without a hitch, they can offer legal guidance and answer any questions that may arise.
Protect Yourself Against a Breach of Contract
When you enter into a legal agreement, you want to know your rights (and money) are protected. Consulting with an attorney experienced in Florida law can help put your mind at ease.
Whether you’re facing a lawsuit now or looking to collect damages for breach of contract, the team at Boyer Law Firm can help. We provide a clear and concise explanation of your contract so you know exactly where you stand. We also answer all of your questions at no charge.
Don’t wait until it’s too late to hire an attorney who has your best interests in mind. Contact us today to learn how we can help.