If you have a valid agreement or contract (the terms are really interchangeable) the person suing (called the plaintiff) may only win “Expectation Damages”. In other words, in contract you get the benefit of the bargain. This is the amount of money that would make you whole if the deal had been carried out as expected and agreed upon by the parties. For instance – you agree to buy my lawnmower for $100, but I break the deal and sell it to my other neighbor. You would get the benefit of the bargain or $100.
Example of Contract Damages
But let’s say the lawnmower was worth $300 and I just wanted to get rid of it so I sold it to my other neighbor for $200. The value to you would be $300! Because for your $100, you were going to get a $300 item.
In some cases, you can also get damages for “reasonably foreseeable” damages not directly related to the bargain. For instance, let’s say you are in the market for a mower, because you are in the business. I offer to sell and you agree to buy, and you inform me that you are cancelling the purchase of another mower. You thank me profusely because you have two weeks’ worth of jobs that are due. I don’t sell and you have to go get the $300 mower and you also miss out on a week of jobs. The mower price is clearly part of the breach, but the week of missed jobs might also be part of it.
What about other damages?
Sorry, you generally do not get “pain and suffering” known as “general damages” or punitive damages for contractual remedies. Sometimes – but rarely – you can also get your attorney fees paid by the other side. It might be in your contract.
For help with a contract issue, please give us a call.