Oftentimes you probably wonder ‘can I sue for breach of contract and negligence in the United States to recover damages?’. The simple answer is yes, you can sue for both breach of contract and negligence when the circumstances permit.
Whether you live in the United States, you do business with the United States or you were simply damaged by an individual or business domiciled in the United States it is important to know if you can sue for breach of contract and negligence and how you can go about it.
In the United States, negligence and breach of contract are two distinct theories used to start a legal action and courts generally impose either one of them on the parties. Under American law, negligence is an area of tort law while breach of contract is an area of contract law. We discuss here breach of contract and negligence as distinct legal theories and the remedies available to the injured party under each of them.
In general, a tort is defined as a wrongful act that injures and interferes with another person or property. Torts can be intentional (acts performed with the intent to cause an injury) or negligent (acts performed without exercising reasonable care). Negligent torts are not deliberate but instead involve a lack of reasonable care. An example of a negligent tort is if you slip and fall on a banana peel or a water spill in a store and you injure yourself. In this case, the store has likely acted negligent and the injured party may be able to recover for any damages suffered. Negligent torts can also occur in the context of condominium associations. Let’s say you rent an apartment in a building which provides gated parking space and your car gets broken into multiple times while parked in the parking garage. As a result, your car gets damaged and needs repairs. In this case, the condominium association likely had a duty to maintain the common areas safe and they acted negligent in performing their duties.
In regards to suing and winning a lawsuit for negligence, the injured party must prove all of the elements of a negligence claim: 1) duty of care (the breaching party owed a legal duty to the injured party), 2) breach of duty of care (the breaching party breached that duty by acting or failing to act with care), 3) causation (the breaching party’s action or inaction caused the injury) and 4) damages (the injured party was harmed as a result of the breaching party’s actions).
The elements required to establish a breach of contract claim are different than the elements required to establish a negligence claim. In order to sue and win a lawsuit for breach of contract, the injured party must establish that 1) there was a contract, 2) the breaching party breached the contract and 3) the breach resulted in damages to the injured party.
Breach of contract is distinct from negligence and that goes beyond the elements of the claim. In negligence and under tort law in general, the injured party may recover punitive damages. Punitive damages is a monetary amount intended to punish the wrongdoer for his or her acts. However, contract law does not allow for punitive damages and as a result the injured party cannot recover punitive damages in a breach of contract claim.
The answer to the question “can I sue for breach of contract and negligence” is yes and we provide here an example of how these two legal theories interplay. Let’s say Tom agrees to sell a car to Jerry. Tom and Jerry enter into a contract for the sale of the car. Jerry agrees to pay for the car and Tom agrees to sell the car and deliver it in Miami, Florida. Jerry pays the price and expects the car to be delivered according to the contract. Tom gets drunk before delivering the car to Jerry and wrecks the car. In this case, Tom breached the contract with Jerry but he did so by negligence.
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