Most people picture negligence claims when they think of personal injury lawsuits. The most common situation that gives rise to a personal injury claim in Texas is one person’s negligence causing another person’s injury or harm. Unjust enrichment, however, is a different type of civil suit. It claims that one party (the defendant) benefitted or profited at the other party’s (the plaintiff’s) expense. An unjust enrichment claim is a combination of contract and tort law.
The Definition of Unjust Enrichment
Unjust enrichment occurs when someone benefits at the expense of another person. It is an issue that commonly arises in breach of contract lawsuits. If two parties enter into a contract to manufacture 500 items, for example, but the manufacturer can only complete 250 of them, the recipient would be unjustly enriched if he or she did not pay the manufacturer to keep the completed items. The law in this case would entitle the manufacturer to payment from the customer for the 250 items produced.
Unjust enrichment could cause personal injuries if a defendant breaches a contract or violates the law in a way that endangers the health or safety of the plaintiff. If a manufacturing facility secretly uses lower-quality parts to make a higher profit on producing a bicycle, for example, it could be liable for consumer injuries that arise from bicycle part malfunctions based on the legal doctrine of unjust enrichment.
Unjust enrichment can refer to many different scenarios in which one party benefits while the other party suffers a financial loss or personal injury. This includes a party receiving property in a way that is unfair, someone being guilty of criminal violations and one party withholding payment for services rendered by another party. If you believe you are the victim of unjust enrichment in Texas, speak to a Houston personal injury attorney for advice about how to bring a claim.
Elements of an Unjust Enrichment Claim
As is the case with all civil lawsuits, the burden of proof in an unjust enrichment claim rests with the plaintiff. Rather than the defendant having to prove him or herself innocent, it will be the plaintiff’s responsibility to prove the defendant guilty. During a civil claim, the standard is to show clear and convincing evidence that the defendant more likely than not caused the damages in question. This is a preponderance of the evidence, meaning the odds of the claim being true are more than 50%. It will be up to you – or your attorney – to prove the three elements of an unjust enrichment claim as more likely to be true than not true.
- The defendant received a benefit. The defendant enjoyed some type of benefit from the unjust enrichment, such as receiving goods or services.
- The defendant’s benefit came at the plaintiff’s expense. The plaintiff suffered a loss because of how the defendant benefitted. Common losses are money, materials, supplies and time.
- It would not be fair for the defendant to keep the benefit. The courts must agree that it would be inherently unjust or unfair for the defendant to retain the benefit without righting the plaintiff’s wrong, such as by paying the plaintiff.
It is important to hire an attorney for an unjust enrichment claim. It can be difficult to prove your case and win compensation from a defendant on your own, without legal representation. A lawyer will understand how these cases work and what types of evidence you will need to prove your claim in Texas. Evidence could include a copy of your original contract with the defendant, expert testimony, and proof of your injuries or losses. A personal injury or breach of contract attorney can help you secure compensation for unjust enrichment in Texas.