The Florida Bar - Badge

Duty to Read and to Know – Contracts Law is Harsh

William McKinley Law, P.A.

Buyer beware. It may sound harsh, but the law in Florida is that if a person chooses to sign a contract without understanding it, they are still bound by the terms contained within that contract. When two parties sign an agreement, a binding contract results, irrespective of your ability (or inability) to understand what you signed. 

In one example, a 92 year old woman with a fourth grade education and memory problems was still bound by the arbitration agreement she signed.  See Spring Lake NC, LLC v. Holloway, 110 So.3d 916 (Fla. 2d DCA 2013).

In another example, car buyers who only spoke Spanish signed agreements in English.  The Court said, that the burden squarely rested on the signatory to seek clarification of the terms of the documents before signing. See Kendall Imps., LLC v. Diaz, 215 So. 3d 95, 101 (Fla. 3d DCA 2017).

Many times people come to us after they have signed a contract and have legal problems.  Of course, we are happy to work to help them with their legal concerns and answer their questions. However, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

So, here is the Rule. Get help before you sign anything you don’t understand.

The rule that anyone who “signs a contract is presumed to know its contents has been applied even to contracts of illiterate persons on the ground that if such persons are unable to read, they are negligent if they fail to have the contract read to them. If a person cannot read the instrument, it is as much his duty to procure some reliable person to read and explain it to him, before he signs it, as it would be to read it before he signed it if he were able to do so.” Rivero v. Rivero, 963 So. 2d 934, 938 (Fla. 3d DCA 2007).

That means that if you sign an agreement that is otherwise valid, the settled law in Florida will treat you as if you fully read it and completely understood it.

So, if you :

  • Can’t read
  • Don’t Speak English
  • Can’t understand or Need Help or Time to understand
  • Don’t have time

Stop. Don’t sign. 

As you consider your options, a good attorney can help guide you through the process of evaluating a contract. If you need help reviewing complex contract documents in the state of Florida, please contact William McKinley Law, P.A. to discuss your concerns and get answers to your questions.

Client Reviews

I hired the William McKinley Law firm to help me with a complex probate matter. Mr. McKinley helped me, an out-of-state resident, to deal with several estate properties in different counties, and was able to get my name on the deeds so that I could then sell the property. I was extremely pleased...

Robert W.

Bill helped me through a very painful business dispute. His attention to detail, avoidance of unnecessary expenses, and ability to explain complicated legal concepts in simple language were an essential lifeline. Without Bill’s help, the dispute would have ended in financial and emotional...

Mike L.

I am very grateful to Attorney William McKinley for guiding me through the probate process when my stepdad passed away in early 2022. My wife found Mr. McKinley by searching online and reading reviews. We were not disappointed. It is wonderful to find someone like William McKinley who will go the...

John and Lisa P.

We were happy with the legal representation and advice we received from Mr. McKinley and would highly recommend him.

George B.

Get in Touch

Fill out the contact form or call us at (863) 537-6408 to schedule your free consultation.

  • No-Fee.png Free Consultation
  • Gavel.png Experienced Attorney
  • Language.png Hablamos Español

Leave Us a Message