A breach of contract is a cause of action that occurs when the stipulations of a legally-binding document, also known as a contract, or any other bargained-for exchange are not honored by at least one of the parties involved in the contract. It is a civil wrong, which means that it is covered by civil law and handled in civil courts.
When a contract is signed, it is legally binding. Failure to live up to the contract’s requirements is a breach of contract. But sometimes, a party involved in a contract cannot fulfill the stipulations he or she is held to in the contract’s language. When this occurs, the party that cannot meet its requirements may be granted an injunction, which requires it to carry out its responsibility or pay restitution to the other party.
In Washington, written contract disputes have a statute of limitations of six years and oral contracts have a statute of limitations of three years. These laws are part of 4.16 RCW.
Video on Breach of Contract & Wage Claims
Types of Breaches of Contract
There are various types of contract breaches that can occur, depending on the type of contract written and the breach that occurs between its parties.
Minor breaches of contract are also known as partial or immaterial breaches. These breaches occur when the stipulations for one party’s performance are met, but with minor differences from the rules laid out in the contract. As long as the party performed its duties in a satisfactory way, meaning that their job was completed, the non-breaching party may only sue for monetary damages related to any price difference between the way the job was stated in the contract and the way it was actually performed.
A fundamental breach of contract is the most egregious type of a breach of contract. This type of situation occurs when one party commits a breach that fundamentally undermines the agreement written in the contract that the other party has no choice but to terminate the agreement.
Material breaches of contract are situations where one party failed to perform his or her duty. When these occur, the other party may sue the breaching party to either compel him or her to complete the tasks laid out in the contract or for monetary damages.
To determine whether a breach occurred and if so, what type of breach, the court must consider the following questions:
- Did a contract exist?
- What did it require of each party?
- Was the contract edited or modified in any way after its creation?
- Did the alleged breach occur?
- Was the alleged breach material or not?
- How, if at all, did the breach cause damages?
- Does the breaching party have legal defense against the allegation?
Employment Attorneys Can Help
Contracts can be confusing and easily misinterpreted. If you’ve been involved in a breach of contract dispute, contact an expert attorney who can help you understand your situation and guide you toward the best possible outcome for it. HKM Employment Attorneys LLP have years of experience working in employment law in Washington state and can help you through this difficult process. Don’t accept a settlement or go to court without first speaking with a qualified attorney. Call 206-838-2504 today to connect with HKM Employment Attorneys LLP.