If a client didn’t sign a contract but verbally agreed to pay, how can I get what they owe me?

Get Legal Help Today

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

If a client didn’t sign a contract but verbally agreed to pay, how can I get what they owe me?

I completed a repair job for a client at a quoted price. She paid a third down for materials but did not sign the contract. When the job was finished included mistakes fixed, she refused to pay the rest of the quoted price, saying that the job was rough after telling me that it was fine before it was completed. Is there a way to collect my money even if she didn’t sign the contract?

Asked on October 13, 2016 under Business Law, Tennessee

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Oral agreements to pay for doing work are enforceable the same way written agreements are--obviously, it's easier to prove the existence of and terms of a written agreement than an oral (unwritten) one, but legally, the oral agreement is enforceable. There are also other legal theories that could help you recover money, such as "unjust enrichment" (the law doesn't let her keep the benefit of your work without paying for it) and "quantum meruit" (if you let someone who reasonably expected to be paid work for you, you have to pay the reasonable value of the work done). Therefore, there are legal grounds to sue, and so to get your money, you can and should sue her. (Lawsuits are how you get money from people who owe you but will not voluntarily pay.)
If you sue her, she can try to raise as a defense that the work was not up to professional standards, was flawed, and/or required to be redone by someone else. If she can prove that, that can reduce what you will be paid--basically, she can get a "credit" or "rebate" for substandard work--but she has to be able to prove it in court by a "preponderance of the evidence," or that it is more likely than not that this was the case. In an extreme-enough case, it could prevent you from being paid at all, but the work would have to be *very* bad for that.


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.

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption