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What is the timeframe to file a lawsuit in California for breach of contract?

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Daniel L. Goodkin - Real Estate - Super Lawyers

Answered by: Daniel L. Goodkin

Located in Los Angeles, CAGoodkin APC

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While there are a few ways parties can breach contracts, the most common way is that of a missed payment or undelivered goods or services. Each contract is different, and each situation complex in its own way. If you represent a business or are a concerned property owner wondering about the proper time to file a lawsuit, you should consider contacting an attorney as soon as possible. 

Your timeframe for filing a lawsuit based on a breach of contract will depend on a few factors. The contract itself may have already stipulated an agreed upon timeframe. In many cases, the contract provision will state that the parties have six months to file and serve a lawsuit for a breach of contract. 

If there is no written stipulation providing a timeframe to file, contract law in the state of California will dictate the timeframe: 

  • For written contracts parties have four years from the date the contract was signed to file suit for a breach.
  • For oral contracts – parties have two years from the date of the agreement to file suit for breach of contract. 

While four years may seem like a long window, it is in your best interest to prepare for your lawsuit sooner rather than later. Taking legal action closer to the date (or dates) of breach can only help your case. Vital documents are easier to find, for instance, and your case will benefit from a generally more available pool of evidence. 

Breach of contract damage recovery 

Results of your lawsuit may vary. Damage recovery for a contract breach may take the form of a monetary compensation. You may also seek a court order that directs the other party to fulfill their agreed upon role. This may mean the defendant performs the duties stipulated in the contract or sees that the duties are otherwise performed. The purpose of a breach of contract lawsuit in California is to ensure this kind of fulfillment. 

Professionals and their attorneys develop contracts for the sake of their business’ or property’s well-being, and to protect future relations with external entities. To be safe, those who are unsure about the language of any signed contract should reach out to a legal professional who has knowledge of interpreting contracts.

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