Contracts & Breach of Contract Lawyer in Long Island
Contracts are the foundation of business, commerce, and society at large. They consist of written or spoken agreements, which are legally enforceable.
Contracts can be between two or more parties, and they can be used for the most simple and basic transactions. A viable contract can be just one paragraph long, or it can be hundreds of pages long, covering every aspect of the most complex transactions.
Once a contract is formed, both sides are legally obligated to do what is required of them in the contract. Failure of one party to perform as required by the contract will often be deemed a “breach of contract.” In the event of a breach of a contract, the person injured by the breach of contract is entitled to relief in the form of recovery in a court of law.
At TonaLaw, if you have entered into a contract that is not being honored by the other side, our breach of contract lawsuit lawyers are here to help you get the compensation you deserve. Our goal is to help you seek the maximum amount of compensation available for all losses related to non-performance or a breach of contract.
What Exactly Is a Contract?
The earliest known contracts date back to Ancient Sumerian, Greek, and Roman societies.
In its simplest definition, a contract is a recitation and memorialization of an agreement between two or more parties that evidence their agreement on key terms and duties as well as their obligations to a transaction or relationship.
There are typically three phases to the life of a contract:
- Pre-contract analysis and negotiation
- Contract formation, either oral or in writing
- Performance of the contract by the parties to the contract.
While many contracts can be formed orally, there are certain classes of contracts that must be in writing to be legally enforceable. This is mandated under laws known as a state’s “Statute of Frauds” laws. New York’s Statute of Frauds Laws can be found in the New York General Obligations Laws.
What Makes A Contract Legally Enforceable?
To be enforceable a contract must have the followings requirements satisfied:
- Offer and Acceptance — There must be a clearly defined offer by one party and a clearly defined acceptance of the offer by the other party
- Consideration — Each party must exchange something of value to the other party. This can be money, services, time, etc.
- Legal Purpose — A contract cannot be formed for illegal purposes or for the purposes of ensuring the performance of an illegal act
- Capacity — The parties to a contract must be legally capable of entering into the contract, which means they must be of legal age, and of sound mind and body, meaning they cannot be mentally or physically incapable of contracting.
- Meeting of the minds — Also known as “mutual assent” to the contract. To be legally binding, the parties must intend to be bound by the contract and all of its terms.
What is a Breach of Contract?
Simply put, “breach of contract” is a broken agreement to perform on one side of a contract, which causes damage to the side that was promised performance under the contract or specific terms of the contract.
To prove a breach of contract in court, you must prove four essential things:
- That a valid contract existed between the parties
- Performance by the person bringing the lawsuit, the plaintiff
- Failure of the other side to perform under the terms of the contract
- Damages directly resulting from the breach of contract.
What Are The Most Common Breach of Contract Cases?
Our office has litigated thousands of breach of contract cases since we opened in 2001. While we have seen a wide variety of these types of cases, below are some of the most common we are seeing at present.
Large companies enter into thousand of contracts a year. Some, like insurance companies, enter into literally millions of contracts a year. Every time you buy business owners insurance, or insurance for your car, motorcycle, home or boat, or any other type of insurance, you are contracting with the company for the purchase of insurance. You pay money in exchange for insurance coverage to pay you in the event of specific losses or damage.
Businesses and individuals enter into contracts with insurance companies. Insurance contract litigation is voluminous and frequent. This is because, typically, once an insurance claim is made, the parties may have a difference of opinion as to what proper performance under the insurance contract might look like.
You may have been paying homeowners insurance and flood insurance prior to Hurricane Sandy, only to find yourself in a quagmire of denials, or exclusions to coverage once the claims were made.
Exclusions to coverage are a significant source of insurance breach of contract litigation, as the exclusion language is often worded in a way that leads to different interpretations by the parties to the contract. Often, the insurance companies will deny claims despite very clear wording, relying on a certain percentage of the population just accepting their denial despite the clear intent of the contract.
COVID-19 Insurance Denials
Recently, with the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) carriers began sending out NOTICE TO POLICYHOLDERS, to businesses that contracted for Businessowners Policies, also known as “BOP”. These letters were sent as an attempt to thwart even the intention of filing claims by business owners. The notice essentially said, “we know you paid for Business Income and Extra Expense Coverage under your business owners policy, but this event is not going to be covered because of the Exclusion Of Loss Due To Bacteria Or Virus.”
These notices have gone out, it was revealed in several instances that the insurance contract and exclusions were poorly worded and that there would in fact, be several very strong grounds for breach of contract litigation against the carriers.
These are just two examples where breach of contract claims against insurance carriers was — or will be — voluminous.
Sweetheart Deed Cases
According to the US Census Bureau, as of 2018, the number of young adults living together unmarried is on the rise. In 2018, the Census Bureau reported that the number of adults, ages 18 to 34, that lived with an unmarried partner was steadily on the rise, as marriages between young adults continued to decline.
Often, these same young adults choose to purchase a home together despite being unmarried, and despite the legal ramifications of such ownership. Specifically, our office has seen a sharp increase in the number of cases being filed by parties that were once living together after having jointly purchased a home together.
Once two parties are on a deed, they are considered co-owners of the property. They cannot just break up and walk away, as the property ownership and financial responsibilities continue on until the legal ownership and financial issues are resolved legally.
While these matters can be resolved amicably, far too often litigation is required as the parties cannot typically agree on an equitable resolution of the matter. One party may have put in more money; a party may have personally done work to the property to increase the value, and many times familial gifts of cash or other monies may be involved.
The last thing someone wants after a breakup is to be entangled in a property ownership dispute, but if this occurs, you need to know your rights and responsibilities.
At TonaLaw, our property deed lawsuit lawyers are here to help you get the compensation you deserve.
If you have purchased a property with someone you are not married to and are now facing a deed dispute, we offer free case evaluations to anyone who believes they may have a case. Give us a call at 1-833-TONALAW or contact us online for a free, no-obligation consultation today.
By far the most common breach of contract claim we see is for monies owed. Typically, one party lends money to another party, or a contract is entered into for services, and payments are made. Breach of contract occurs when, after payment has been made by one party, the other party fails to make a repayment, or fails to render the services properly in accordance with the contract. In these cases, the non-performing party violates its agreement and is responsible for the initial value of the contract.
Money owed can also refer to non-payment for services or goods already rendered to the individual. This is especially common in business relationships where services/goods are rendered up-front and then invoiced through an accounts receivable process later.
Vendors, contractors, private parties, and even fellow attorneys often face situations where they must “track down” parties with outstanding debts. Both written contracts and verbal contracts can constitute enforceable agreements requiring the payment of monies owed for goods or services rendered. If payment cannot be obtained through accounts receivable, they must look to a “money owed” breach of contract claim to hold the individual responsible in court for the unpaid amount.
“Business Partner” Disputes
Businesses are typically owned by more than one owner, and that can be in the form of shareholders, members or partners. For our purposes here the term “partner” means anyone you might be involved in a business with that is deemed an equity owner. Many times at the beginning of a business relationship, parties will bring on equity partners without understanding what that relationship could devolve into years into the relationship.
The parties to such contracts may also have two very different versions of a contract in their head once a dispute arises, especially if the contract was strictly verbal or involved documents with multiple versions. It often will result in a dispute over monies owed from the business, ownership of hard assets of the business, ownership of key accounts and the like.
Often, an experienced breach of contract attorney is needed to establish the enforceable aspects of the contract, prove that there was a “meeting of the minds,” and hold non-performing parties accountable for their breach.
Construction Contract Disputes
Construction contracts often breed contract disputes. They are, typically, lengthy, involving a large volume of key provisions to be complied with.
Whether it is a property owner that has failed to pay sums due to a general contractor, a general contractor that has failed to pay its subcontractors or any other variety of construction disputes, it is important to preserve both evidence and a timeline of occurrences.
Working with a breach of contract lawyer can help you interpret the language of a construction contract and enforce penalties for non-performance to the fullest extent of civil law.
Speak with an Experienced Breach of Contract Lawyer Regarding Non-Performance or an Unreasonable Claim Denial
At TonaLaw, our contract lawsuit lawyers are here to help you get the compensation you deserve. If you have entered into a contract that has been breached by the other side, we want to help you recover all of the damages that have resulted.