Any time you enter a financial contract, you’ll most likely notice very small but very important text at the end of the document. It’s pretty much always included in standard form contracts like apartment leases, mortgages, loans and bank account applications. In a typical case, you purchase a good or service and are presented with a “boilerplate” contract with terms pertaining to dispute resolution, warranties, return policies, etc. and you don’t have much opportunity to negotiate these terms.
Why does the fine print matter?
Contract law is based on the concept of mutual assent to the terms of the contract. Courts assume that all of the terms of the agreement have been agreed upon between both parties, and place the “duty to read” and understand the terms on both parties. Especially in these scenarios, failing to read and understand the fine print can have big negative consequences:
- Automobile Insurance.
The insurance you have for your car is a legally binding contract. Be sure to read the insurance agreement carefully to know exactly what is covered if you have an issue. Implied in the contract is the insurer’s obligation to “play fairly with its insured.” This means your insurer is obligated to deal with the insured in a fair and honest way..
- Your Apartment Lease.
Once you have the lease in front of you, look for changes in the terms that you and the landlord agreed to verbally, especially in regards to security deposits, due date for rent, the landlord’s right to enter the property, etc.
- Car Loan Agreements.
While most consumers only look at the monthly payments when buying a car, it’s important to look at the deal as a whole to determine if it’s a good one.
- Service Agreements.
If you sign up for a recurring service, like lawn care or financial planning, you may be asked to sign a service agreement. It’s important to read these carefully, because many of them contain arbitration provisions where you give up your right to take a dispute to court.
- Employment Contracts.
When you get a new job, you may be asked to sign employment agreements, such as non-disclosure and non-compete clauses. Always read these carefully.
It’s important to make sure you don’t sign any paper until you know exactly what you are signing and what it means. Sometimes, the language used in fine print can be vague and difficult to understand, but it’s still legally binding. If your insurance claim has been denied, your landlord hasn’t followed through on a promise in your lease, or if you have questions about whether you have been treated fairly, you may be dealing with a breach of contract. An experienced firm like Schenk & Podolsky can help you determine your rights and options. We invite you to call (480) 757-5000 today for a free consultation.
If your insurer has intentionally denied a claim, failed to process a claim, or failed to pay a claim without a reasonable basis they may have breached the contract and acted in bad faith. Call Schenk & Podolsky, Attorneys at Law in Mesa, Arizona to determine if you have a claim for breach of contract.