What can I do if I’m a freelance video director, producer and editor and have a client who’s not paying me?

UPDATED: Sep 29, 2022

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What can I do if I’m a freelance video director, producer and editor and have a client who’s not paying me?

Our agreement was for 4 payments. The first was kept, the second was $500 short and the next 2 were due over a month ago. The outstanding balance is $6,625. My client is not refusing to pay, everyone is thrilled with the work I did, and there are zero disputes to the amount owed. He’s a wealthy man “waiting on investment money to come in”. Meanwhile I’ve had to suspend my car payment, and other financial responsibilities in order to eat.

I’m concerned I might not have very many options. There was not a contract, just an estimate that included the payment agreement. I’m also guessing that even if there was a contract it would cost more

Asked on September 15, 2015 under Business Law, Florida


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

You can sue your client for the money he owes you. You should sue on 3 separate grounds or causes of action
1 Breach of contract even if it was an oral not written contract, there was an agreement for him to pay you for doinf work, providing a service or product, etc. That agreement is enforceable.
2 Promissory estoppel if he induced you to do work by promising to pay you and it was reasonable to rely on his promise, that is sometimes enough for a court to hold the promise enforceable.
3 Unjust enrichment the law generally will not let him keep the benefits or fruits of your work without paying.
Saying that he is himself waiting for a payment, disbursement, investment, etc. is not a legal defense to the obligation to pay.
If the business is an LLC or corporation, you sue the business itself. Otherwise, you sue the owners.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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