Generally, under contract law, you are required to advocate for yourself. The inability to understand or read the terms of the contract will not be grounds for suit in the future as it is understood to be your responsibility to make sure you understand what you are signing. Options available are to hire a translator (if you are not a native speaker of the language in which the contract is written), but it is also a good idea to hire an experienced attorney, such as Kevin Napper, to ensure your rights are not being trampled upon. There are many nuances to the law, and they are best understood by those in the field. It is an unfortunate fact that it is difficult for most people to adequately advocate for themselves in contracts.
Be Informed of Your Contractual Rights
An important part of advocating for yourself is to ensure everything is written. It is rare that oral promises are held to binding on the one that makes the promise. In fact, the only instance that is popularly known in the legal field, is an oral contract for the sale of land. Further, this specific oral contract is only enforceable if there has been a transfer of possession along with significant, permanent improvements made to the land. Specifically, the possessor has been acting as the owner, under the understanding that they own the property. Understanding how narrow this one exception is should help you understand exactly how rare it is that oral promises are contractually enforceable.
Not only are oral contracts rarely enforceable, it is important to know it is illegal in some instances to have an oral agreement. The specific instances are marriage, contracts with terms lasting longer than a year, the sale of land (generally), wills, loans, and the sale of goods in an amount over $500. An easy way to remember these is M.Y. L.E.G.S. which stands for marriage, year, land, executor’s agreements, guaranty, and sale.
A popular Latin saying is “ignorantia juris non excusat”, which means “ignorance of the law is no excuse”. It is solely your responsibility to protect your rights when it comes to contracts. Research the field and the applicable laws, read the contract thoroughly and ensure you understand all the terms, or, better yet, hire an attorney such as Kevin Napper to read the contract and ensure you are advocated for.
In contracts, as in all of life, you cannot rely on anyone but yourself to adequately understand what is being agreed to and to vigorously fight for your rights. Gratefully, an attorney counts as “yourself”, as they are representing you, and they will likely understand the niche area of Personal Injury Defense lawyers well or have access to those that do, as well as access to written resources used to verify and substantiate their opinions.
It is an unfortunate fact that you will not be able to, as a lay person, understand many of the contracts you encounter in your life. Keep in mind you likely have your own area of expertise and try not to expect too much of yourself in other areas you haven’t studied. Circumvent a contractual mistake and hire an expert!