Has someone broken a promise that was made to you? That's another way of saying that someone has breached their contractural obligations. If the broken promise is serious enough, you can sue the other side for damages. This is called "breach of contract."
Contracts are essentially lists of mutual promises. Enforceable contracts can be made orally, or more typically, in writing. Written contracts are easier to litigate because the terms are easier to prove to the court. The terms of an oral contract are often a matter of "he said, she said." Nonetheless, lawsuits over oral agreements can be just as successful as litigation over written contracts.
There can be substantial harm if a promise is broken. This what we can "damages" in the legal profession. If the damages are large enough and the other side is not willing to make things right, an aggrieved party can file a lawsuit to seek the recovery of their damages.
There are several important things to consider before a person makes a decision to file a breach of contract lawsuit.
A breach of contract lawsuit must be filed with the court within a certain amount of time after the breach occurred. Waiting too long means that you lose your rights to seek damages in court.
A litigant pursuing a breach of contract lawsuit must prove his or her damages to the court. A litigant just doesn't get to make up a number. I often deal with potential clients that have clearly been wronged by a breach of contract, but have a difficult time proving their specific damages. If you are going to go through the expensive process of litigation, it makes sense to nail down your recoverable damages before filing the lawsuit.
Does the defendant or defendants have assets or insurance coverage? If they don't, you might be chasing an empty judgement. The ultimate goal in litigation isn't necessarily to be deemed in the "right," but to obtain a recovery of money to compensate you for your damages. Chasing a broke defendant for years can be disastrous in the end.
Not everybody involved in litigation is squeaky-clean themselves. Did you do something that may have excused the other side's performance of their contractual obligations? You can bet that the defendant to a contract lawsuit is going to drag the you through the mud to try to excuse their own actions. This isn't always successful, but it is important that you are candid with your attorney regarding your own actions to get ahead of any potential issues.
My law practice accepts breach of contract cases for defendants and select plaintiff's cases. Please contact me directly at (916) 333-2222 to discuss your specific contract legal issues.