Contracts can be as complicated as a multi-million dollar
business merger or as simple as an agreement to cut your grass. When all
parties uphold their ends of the agreement, everything goes along fine.
However, when one party fails to deliver upon their promise, you might be
damaged financially as a result.
People who have been damaged by another individual’s breach
of a contract want to be made whole. However,
if a party to the agreement refuses to abide by its terms, the other party or
parties might have to hire an attorney and file suit, which can be expensive. However,
under Texas Law, a party suing to recover for a breach of a contract may be
able to recover their own attorney’s fees as well.
The general rule in Texas is that each party pays its own
attorney’s fees. Turner v. Turner, 385 S.W.2d 230, 233 (Tex. 1964). However, attorney’s fees are recoverable
under Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 38.001 in lawsuits for (1) rendered
services; performed labor; (3) furnished material; (4) freight or express
overcharges; (5) lost or damaged freight or express; (6) killed or injured
stock; (7) a sworn account; or (8) an oral or written contract. The most common lawsuits where this section
is invoked by litigators are suits on sworn accounts, oral or written contracts
and lawsuits for rendered services or performed labor. Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 38.001.
One thing to note is that this statute is not left to the
judge’s discretion. This means that, the judge (provided that proof and
pleading and other requirements are met) does not have discretion in awarding
fees to the prevailing party. D. F. W. Christian Television, Inc. v.
Thorton, 933 S.W.2d 488, 490 (Tex. 1996).
Attorney’s fees are recoverable for work before and during trial.
Additionally, attorney’s fees may be recoverable past trial
and through the appellate process. Neal v. SMC Corp., 99 S.W.3d 813, 818
(Tex. App. — Dallas, 2003, no pet).
Attorney’s fees can also be recovered in cases where the attorney is
working on a contingent fee (e.g. 33% of the recovery).
People who have been wronged in a breach of contract case
should be able to be made whole and recovering attorney’s fees spent to make a
person whole is a vital part of that process.