When a contractual party breaches a contract, the other party must present evidence to prove several elements before a claim can be established. The elements of a claim are different facts that must be shown before a party can be held to be liable to pay damages. When a material breach occurs, a claim might help the non-breaching party recover damages for the losses incurred as a result. Other options to resolve a breach might also be available.
What Is a Breach of Contract?
A breach of contract refers to circumstances under which a contracting party fails to perform its duties under a contract. A breach can be minor or major. A minor breach of contract can frequently be resolved between the parties outside of the litigation process with help from a breach of contract attorney so both parties can continue performing under the contract. However, a major or material breach of contract is one that is so severe that it is impossible for the parties to perform under the contract. When a material contract breach occurs, the non-breaching party may want to file a lawsuit to recover damages.
What Are the Elements for a Breach of Contract Cause of Action?
In Nevada, several elements must be established before a party can prevail on a breach of contract claim. Evidence must be shown to prove all of the following elements:
- The existence of an enforceable contract (offer, acceptance, and consideration);
- Plaintiff’s performance under the contract;
- Defendant’s unjustified or unexcused failure to perform under the contract (breach of the contract); and
- Damages resulting from the breach
A plaintiff is generally required to show that he or she fully performed his or her contractual duties in order to recover damages. However, there are certain situations when a plaintiff’s performance will be excused, including when the performance was contingent on something happening that did not.
If a plaintiff cannot prove one of the elements, damages will not be recoverable under a breach of contract cause of action. It will be either a judge or jury that will determine whether the elements have been met and how much in damages should be awarded.
Many causes of action for breach of contract will seek monetary damages. However, there are instances where the non-breaching party wants specific performance under the contract and therefore, will ask a Court for equitable relief. In a Court of equity, a Judge will decide and a jury will not be involved.
If you are dealing with a breach of contract dispute, it is wise to retain an attorney because there can be many legal issues involved, including contract interpretation and potential legal defenses.
Interesting legal fact: If a contract term is ambiguous, the Court may construe it against the drafter of the contract.