In the case Maddox v. Northern Natural Gas Co., (citation) the court lays out the traditional rule for determining whether a valid contract exists:
To constitute a contract, there must be an offer by one party and acceptance by the other party… In order that a contract may be valid, it is essential that the minds of the parties meet upon all of the essential elements of the contract sought to be enforced, and the acts to be done must be clear and unambiguous… In order that an offer and acceptance may result in a binding contract, the acceptance must be absolute, unconditional, and identical with the terms of the offer, and must in every respect meet and correspond with the offer; and any qualification of or departure from those terms invalidates and rejects the offer… Where a person offers to do a definite thing, and another accepts conditionally, or introduces a new term into the acceptance, his answer is a mere expression of willingness to treat, or it is a counter proposal, and in neither case is there an agreement.
A contract of adhesion creates problems with that traditional rule and definition. CORBIN ON CONTRACTS (Section:1.4 Contracts of Adhesion) defines an adhesion contract as:
The term ”contract of adhesion” has become part of the language of contract law. The origin of the term sheds some light on its meaning. It was borrowed from French scholars and was first applied in this country to insurance policies.