Can we sue for the physical damages and financial losses related to the expenses incurred by the time breach of our contractors?

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Can we sue for the physical damages and financial losses related to the expenses incurred by the time breach of our contractors?

Me, my Wife and our son where to carry out extensive repairs to the electrics in our house. Our contractor promised that the work would be finished in four weeks. To avoid the disruption we decided to move to a hotel. A month later the work was still not completed, but we could no longer afford to stay in the hotel and had to return home. The work was not finished for another two weeks. We had to buy a camping stove, lamps and bottled gas and pay for a laundry service. My wife became ill with stress and we were left $1600 out of pocket for the expenses.

Asked on May 2, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Virginia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

You should consult with an attorney, bringing with you the contract, proposal, all correspondence, etc. The short answer is that you *may* be able to sue by your losses caused by your contractors breach of contract, IF the contractor did in fact breach it. What will be critical is--

1) Is a completion date actually part of the contract, and, if so, what is it--you can only enforce terms that are actually part of the agreement between you and the contractor; and

2) Is there there any disclaimer or limitation of the contractor's liability in the contract--for example, does it state that he is not liable for costs imposed by delays beyond his control and, if so, are the delays beyond his control (e.g. due to weather, changes you requisted, unavailabiltiy of supplies, etc.)

Then even assuming that you have favorable answers to the above, the next critical question is whether the costs you allude to were consequences of the breach. For example, if you did not in fact have to move out, but merely chose voluntarily to move out because you found that more pleasant or convenient, you may not be able to recover compensation--if you did not have to move due to the nature of the work but could have stayed at home, the contractor did not cause (in a legal sense) you to incur these costs, but rather you voluntarily assumed them.

Therefore, while it is possible  you may have a cause of action, the exact language of the contract and other agreements, and the exact nature of the work and circumstances under which you did not reside at home will determine whether you can in fact make a claim for compensation. These are things you need to review in detail with an attorney, to see whether you have any recouse.


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