Seattle Breach of Contract Lawyer
Without contracts, many of our real estate, business, inheritance, and property transactions could not function. These agreements are central to a smoothly running society, but when one party defaults or breaches the terms of the contract, it is time for you to seek help in understanding your options.
Dickson Frohlich Phillips Burgess has assisted businesses and individuals with contract disputes and violations for over two decades. We bring over 100 years of combined legal experience to the table when you need a Seattle breach-of-contract lawyer. If you feel someone is taking advantage of you or trying to break a binding legal agreement, contact us to schedule a consultation today.
Why You Need a Contract Attorney from Dickson Frohlich Phillips Burgess
Every transaction based on a contract carries an element of risk. However, working with a skilled contract lawyer can help you avoid many of these missteps and prevent other parties from breaching the agreement. If they do, our firm stands ready to thoroughly investigate the documents, conversations, and actions surrounding your situation to determine where you stand.
Our business attorneys provide a depth of knowledge and familiarity with the law that will give you full insight into your choices. Whether another party is not living up to their side of the agreement or they are accusing you of failing to adhere to its provisions, we can provide an honest assessment of the circumstances. The Dickson Frohlich Phillips Burgess breach of contract lawyers in Seattle excel in carefully evaluating each client’s situation before proceeding.
Facing a breach means you need thoughtful solutions from a team with a broad range of practice. Our attorneys provide superior service to guard your financial well-being during real estate transactions, business dealings, estate and probate issues, and family law concerns.
How Contracts Work in Washington State
Contracts are simple on the surface, but contract law is very complex. In Seattle, WA, a contract consists of three basic elements:
- An offer: One party expresses their desire to enter into a contract or bargain. This usually takes place after negotiations as to the details of the agreement.
- An acceptance: The other party agrees to the terms of the contract. They typically sign or otherwise signal their acceptance of the offer.
- Considerations: These include items of value such as money, goods, services, or anything else deemed acceptable between the two parties. They may or may not be objectively equal as long as both parties agree to the exchange.
There are many variations on how a contract can be worded, agreed to, and enacted, but each will carry these three main components. Thorough negotiations can head off many disputes later on, but every contract could be subject to breach, no matter how carefully each party tried to avoid it.
In Washington State, the law has other parameters, such as requiring all parties to be competent and mutually assenting to the agreement. The contract must also clearly state the offer, it must be accepted, and it cannot be revoked, or the agreement is void. Again, the basic idea of a contract is easy to grasp, but the details can create complicated and lengthy dispute actions requiring a top-notch Seattle breach of contract attorney to untangle.
Do Contracts Have to Be Written to Be Binding?
Washington State generally requires most contracts to be in writing before they are considered valid. However, even oral agreements can carry the same weight and legality as those on paper. Proving a breach of a spoken contract can be more challenging, and these agreements are generally less robust than written ones.
For example, Washington’s Statute of Frauds requires that the following types of agreements must be in writing for them to be legally binding:
- Any contract relating to marriage, including divorce and annulment
- Any items sold where the price is $500 or greater
- Security agreements allowing a creditor to seize your assets if you fail to pay according to the terms
- Settlements for legal actions, such as insurance claims or lawsuits
- Real estate sales, including the real estate broker’s commission
- When the actions of the contract cannot be finished in one year or less according to the terms.
Although an oral contract can be upheld in some cases, the general advice is always to get everything in writing. An old saying applies here: “The palest ink is better than the best memory.” If a breach occurs years down the road, a piece of paper can help you dodge the headaches of trying to remember what everyone said.
Written agreements also clarify what each term means, so there is less chance of misunderstanding. A well-written contract can prevent many problems when a breach occurs and give strong legal standing to the party who has been affected.
Some Contracts Are Not Binding, Even When Written
A contract is considered breached if one or more parties fail to fulfill their obligations as outlined. When this happens, the other participant is no longer required to hold to the terms of the agreement and may be able to pursue damages. In short, if someone fails to honor the terms, they must rectify the problem or face the consequences.
When you speak with a breach of contract attorney in Seattle from Dickson Frohlich Phillips Burgess, we will review your agreement to determine if it is legal and applicable under current contract law. If you have been accused of breaching the document, but it was not binding in the first place, you can use that in your defense against the allegation.
A contract is not considered binding in Washington if:
- All parties made mistakes and did not agree to the terms.
- The contract includes a minor or mentally incompetent person without a legal guardian’s involvement. These individuals cannot enter contracts.
- The agreement does not follow the Statute of Frauds.
- The contract tries to enforce illegal actions.
- The terms are unjust or overwhelmingly weighted toward one party, usually the one with more bargaining power.
- The three elements (offer, acceptance, exchange of considerations) were not all present.
- You were coerced or a victim of fraud when you signed the agreement.
If all the elements are met for a contract, and you still believe there is a breach or are being accused of one, our firm will examine the terms closely to determine the best approach for your situation. We will contact the other parties and their legal counsel to discuss solutions.
Understanding What Constitutes a Breach of Contract
In most cases, a breach can be remedied by requiring the other party to perform the actions they agreed to as part of the contract. The “specific performance” requirement is the first approach, especially when the actions are so unique to the contract that suing for damages will not solve the issue. However, if the other party refuses or becomes unable to comply for some reason, you likely need legal advice on how to proceed.
Contracts can suffer minor breaches, material breaches, and fundamental breaches. The differences between these three are:
- Minor breaches: These do not usually result in breaking the contract and occur when one party fulfills their requirements with small differences from the original agreement.
- Material breaches: One party fails to fulfill their duty as listed in the contract, resulting in a dispute.
- Fundamental breaches: When one party commits a breach so egregious that it fully undermines the agreement and requires termination of the contract.
No matter the severity of the breach, you will benefit from consulting with a Seattle breach of contract attorney from our office. Every case is unique, and we will apply our understanding of contract law to your circumstances to plan the best approach.
Resolving a Breach of Contract
Sometimes, you can put a contract back on track by simply reiterating the terms with the other party and asking that they hold up their end of the agreement. In cases of minor breaches, you may still receive work that does not quite meet the original terms.
For example, suppose you stipulate that your contractor uses marble countertops for your kitchen remodel, but they install less desirable quartz ones instead. You can ask them to replace the material at their expense. If they will not, you could sue to recover the difference in cost or the expense of having a different contractor install the marble.
For a material breach, you may need to file a lawsuit against the offending party to force them to perform the actions outlined in the agreement. In the case of a fundamental breach, you will probably need to seek compensatory damages. Examples of a fundamental contract breach would be when a wedding photographer fails to show up without explanation or a tenant refuses to pay rent without justification.
Understanding your options and how the law can work for or against you is crucial to successfully resolving a problem. You need highly respected professional counsel from Dickson Frohlich Phillips Burgess to handle negotiations, settlements, and court proceedings on your behalf.
Depend on a Seattle Breach of Contract Lawyer from Dickson Frohlich Phillips Burgess
Every attorney at our firm is hand-picked for their tenacity, impressive backgrounds, and unique skill sets. We emphasize educating our clients on the challenges they might face and developing a customized approach for each case. Our team offers exceptional service focusing on quality work and ethical service. Our clients recommend us to their families and friends based on our track record of success.
No matter what kind of agreement dispute you are experiencing, rely on a Seattle breach of contract lawyer from Dickson Frohlich Phillips Burgess to represent your interests and secure your desired outcome.
Contact us to schedule a consultation using our convenient online form, or call us at 206-621-1110 today.