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How to Sue

Suing Somebody for Breach of Contract

Wondering how to sue somebody who didn't deliver on a contract?

If you contracted somebody to do something and they didn't do it, you can sue for breach of contract. Even if they did the work, but did it poorly, you can sue them. Were they late, sloppy or dangerous? If so, you can sue.

Mind you, you don't have to sue. You can try to work it out amicably. That's always the right first step. But if you don't make any headway, it may be time to take them to court.

In a breach of contract lawsuit, the contract can be written, oral or implied. Here are a few examples:

  • You pay somebody in advance to plow your driveway during the upcoming winter months. The snow comes and they never plow your driveway. You find out that they did the same thing to three of your neighbors.
  • You hire a caterer for your wedding. They make a mistake on their calendar and put it down for the wrong week. When the wedding comes, there's no food and the guests go hungry.
  • You hire a freelance writer to work on some articles for your website. The content ends up being so bad that you cannot use it.
  • You are contracted by a firm to write some software. You deliver the product on time and to specification, yet they decide not to pay you because their business model has changed and they no longer need the software.

To win a lawsuit for breach of contract, you typically have to prove three things:

  • You need to prove that the contract existed;
  • You need to prove that the contract was broken; and
  • You need to prove that you suffered a material loss as a result of the broken contract.

Here are a couple of tips that might come in handy in suing for breach of contract. First, be sure you are suing the right person. If you sue an individual when you should be suing their corporation, your court case will be thrown out and you'll have wasted a fair bit of time and money. Second, it often helps to bring expert testimony into the court case to help the judge determine whether a contract was breached. This transforms a "he said, she said" case into a viable breach of contract case.

As a final reminder, remember that for small amounts, you can sue in small claims court. This saves considerable legal expense and generally leads to fast conflict resolution.


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