As a freelance graphic designer, what are my legal options if I have not yet been paid from a client?
5 attorney answers
You should retain an employment law attorney to send a well written demand letter to your client regarding payment due. Also, it is essential for you to have a well written contract and have all of your clients sign it before doing any work. A well written contract will protect you and save you money if this happens again. Find employment law attorney contact info on Avvo.com.
Send the unpaid portion for collection with an inexpensive service like olddebts.com.
If that doesn't work, sue in small claims court.
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In addition to a claim for breach of an oral contract, you have a claim under what are called the "common counts." They are somewhat difficult to explain, but for informational purposes, what you need to know is the particular common count that applies in your situation. The common count that applies is simply a common count for services rendered. The count for services states that the defendant is indebted to the plaintiff in a certain sum for (or on account of) “work and labor done” or “services performed” for the defendant (or at the defendant's request). This claim is often more advantageous to a plaintiff who did not enter into a written contract because proving an oral contract can be difficult, and with this common count, you don't have to prove the elements of a contract; the agreement underlying this count is a "quasi-contract" or implied contract. All a plaintiff needs to show is that defendant became indebted to plaintiff for an agreed upon amount, for work, labor, services and materials rendered at the special instance and request of defendant and for which defendant promised to pay plaintiff. There is a Judicial Council form that lays this all out. See http://www.courts.ca.gov/documents/pldc0012.pdf. Your situation is CC-1.b.2 and CC-2. You may need an attorney to explain this to you further.
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By freelance, I must assume you must mean you are not an employee. However you have posted this question in the Employment and Labor practice area. As an independent contractor, your only options regarding getting paid are to wait, negotiate or sue. If you are an employee, you have the additional option of filing a wage claim with the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement. It might be a good idea to have an employment attorney look at this situation to determine if you should be characterized as an employee.
Good luck to you.
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You can sue the client for a breach of oral contract. Depending on the amount, this might be a small claims matter.
A full consultation would be necessary to properly advise you