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Breach of Warranty: Everything You Need to Know

October 10, 2022 Personal Injury

As a consumer, you expect the products you buy to work as intended. In fact, when making an important purchase, you might even look at the warranty to see if the manufacturer stands behind the product you are purchasing.

But, while we expect the products we buy (or borrow) to be safe, this isn’t always the case. Even when manufacturers provide warranties, sometimes their products fail. As a result, many consumers find themselves in need of a breach of express warranty lawyer. If you have been injured by a product and have questions about filing a warranty claim, here is an overview of what you need to know:

Most Consumer Products Come with Warranties

Most consumer products come with warranties. State laws require manufacturers to provide warranties in many cases, and some companies provide additional warranties voluntarily. Generally, these warranties apply not only to the person who purchases a product but also to:

  • Family members who use the product (i.e., if you buy contaminated food and your spouse or child gets sick, you could still have a warranty claim even though your spouse or child did not purchase the food themselves).
  • Friends, coworkers or neighbors who borrow the product (i.e., if your neighbor lends you a power tool and the tool malfunctions while you are using it, you may have a warranty claim even though you were not the purchaser).
  • Bystanders who get injured when a product malfunctions (i.e., if you get hit by a car when its brakes suddenly fail, you may have a warranty claim against the vehicle manufacturer).
  • People who rent or lease the product (i.e., if you rent or lease a car and you get injured when the car’s airbag explodes, you may have a warranty claim even though you were a renter or lessee instead of a purchaser).

There Are Three Main Types of Consumer Warranties

There are three main types of consumer product warranties, and a product can come with one or more of these three types. The main types of product warranties are:

1. Express Warranty

An express warranty is a warranty that the manufacturer (or a seller) puts in writing. Express warranties vary widely—both in terms of what they cover and for how long they apply. As a result,  if you were injured by a product and the product came with an express warranty, you will need to have a breach of express warranty lawyer review the product’s documentation to determine if you have a claim.

2. Implied Warranty of Merchantability

The implied warranty of merchantability says that a product has been designed and manufactured appropriately and has proper labeling. Most consumer products are subject to the implied warranty of merchantability—and since the warranty is “implied,” it does not need to be in writing to apply. For example, let’s say you buy headache medicine at the pharmacy. You read the label, and it does not mention drowsiness as a possible side effect. But, after taking the medicine, you get drowsy—and you fall and get injured as a result. In this scenario, you may have a claim based on the implied warranty of merchantability.

3. Implied Warranty of Fitness

The implied warranty of fitness (or “fitness for a particular purpose”) applies when a seller knows (or has reason to know) that a customer will use a product in a certain way. When this is the case, the seller is held to an implied warranty that the product will do what the customer expects it to. For example, let’s say you go to the hardware store and ask for a saw you can use to cut down a tree. The seller recommends a specific chainsaw. But, when you try to use the saw to cut down a tree, it overheats and catches fire. In this scenario, you may have an implied warranty of fitness claim against the seller.  

Even If a Seller Says a Product is Being Sold “As Is,” This Might Not Be the Case

Sometimes, companies will try to sell products “as is.” This typically indicates that the seller is trying to disclaim any warranties—express or implied—that might otherwise apply. But, oftentimes, these disclaimers are invalid. State laws typically limit how and when companies can disclaim the implied warranties, and, if a company makes an express warranty in an advertisement, it cannot then disclaim liability in the product’s fine print.

Additionally, if you buy a product second-hand, the seller might offer the product “as is,” but the manufacturer’s warranties could still apply. For example, if you buy a used car on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace that is still under warranty, you should still be protected. As a result, if you got injured in an accident involving a product that you bought “as is,” you should still speak with a breach of express warranty lawyer about your legal rights.

You Don’t Necessarily Need a Warranty to Hold the Manufacturer Liable

The final thing to know about warranties is that you don’t necessarily need to have a warranty claim to hold a manufacturer (or seller) liable for a product-related injury. Even if no warranties apply, you may still be able to file a claim if you (or your lawyer) can show that the product was defective.

When a product is defective, the manufacturer and any other companies in the product’s chain of distribution can be held liable based on the law of products liability. Product liability claims are “strict liability” claims, which means that accident victims (or their families) can pursue claims without evidence of negligence. If there is evidence to show that the product was defective, this alone is enough to establish a claim for just compensation. In product liability cases, a defect claim can be based on a dangerous design, manufacturing flaw or inadequate warning.

Discuss Your Rights with a Breach of Express Warranty Lawyer for Free

Do you have questions about your legal rights following a product-related accident? If so, we strongly encourage you to contact us for more information. To discuss your rights with a breach of express warranty lawyer at Brais Law Firm in confidence, please call 800-499-0551 or request a free consultation online now.