Posted by: Apr 16, 2020

Statute of Limitations of Breach of Contract

The breach of contract statute of limitations in Texas is four years.

What this means is that you have four years from the date a breach of contract occurred to file a lawsuit in the state of Texas. If you did not file your claim within the four-year period, you forfeit your right to sue.

If you think you have a claim for a breach of contract in Texas, you’ll want to speak to a contract attorney with experience in this area. These claims can be quite technical.

First, you must prove that you had a valid contract. Then you must show that the other party breached the contract. Finally, as noted above, you want to make sure that you bring your lawsuit within the appropriate time period; in this case, four years. 

In this article, we’ll go over everything you need to know about breach of contract claims in Texas, as well as the breach of contract statute of limitations in Texas.

What Makes a Valid Contract? 

In Texas, there are several elements to a valid contract:

  1. There must be an offer;
  2. There must be an acceptance of the strict terms of the offer;
  3. The parties should agree on the contract (a “meeting of the minds”);
  4. Each party must give consideration;
  5. The parties should enter into the agreement voluntarily;
  6. The parties must have the legal capacity to enter the contract; and
  7. No one may contract for anything illegal.

Putting the Elements Together

Taking each of the elements individually, a picture starts to form about what courts require for a valid contract. Generally, one party would make an offer. The offer can be in writing or not. The other party would accept the offer based on the terms proposed.

There are only certain types of contracts that have to be in writing for them to be legal, based on the Texas Statute of Frauds. However, in practice, most valid contracts will be in writing because that is the only way to clearly establish the intent of both parties, called a “meeting of the minds.”

Each party must give consideration. Consideration is either one party giving something of value or refraining from something that they have the legal right to do.

For example, if Bob contracts with Mary that Mary will pay Bob $10 million for Bob to quit smoking, they have each given consideration. The consideration that Mary gives is something of value: $10 million. The consideration that Bob gives is refraining from something that he has the legal right to do: smoking.

The parties must enter the contract voluntarily, which means that there should be no duress. The parties must have legal capacity, which means they are not minors, they are mentally competent, and they are not under the influence such that they don’t know what they’re doing.

Finally, no one may contract for anything illegal. That means that parties can’t enter into a contract to rob a bank together, for example.

Assuming the parties meet all of the elements, they would have a valid contract. If the contract must be in writing according to the Texas statute of frauds, courts won’t enforce it otherwise. 

How is a Breach of Contract Proven? 

If there is a valid contract, the plaintiff would need to show that the defendant breached it to be successful with their claim. For breach of contract, there are four specific elements:

  1. The existence of a valid contract;
  2. That the plaintiff bringing the claim did as they said they would under the contract;
  3. That the defendant did not do as they said they would; and 
  4. The plaintiff was damaged because the defendant breached.

In the example given above, if Bob stopped smoking and Mary did not pay, Bob might have a claim for breach of contract. If Bob won the claim in court, he could receive monetary damages to put him in the position he would have been in if the breach had never occurred. 

Why Do States Have Statutes of Limitations?

States, as well as the federal government, have statutes of limitations so that parties will bring their legal claims in a reasonable time frame. If a plaintiff doesn’t bring their claim within reason, the defendant may lose their ability to defend themselves adequately. Evidence gets wiped out over the years. The defendant should have a fair opportunity to argue their side.

Contact an Experienced Breach of Contract Attorney for Your Claim

If you think you may have a claim for breach of contract in Texas, contact an attorney as soon as possible. You’ll want to ensure that you won’t be running up against the statute of limitations. Beyond that, an experienced attorney can analyze your potential claim and talk to you about what to expect. 

The Curley Law Firm has extensive experience representing plaintiffs throughout Houston in breach of contract claims. Contact the office today.