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Breach of Warranty
Types of Product Warranties & Limitations

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A breach of warranty occurs when a product does not meet the manufacturer's standards. That breach can lead to a legal claim against the manufacturer.

Over the years, I have worked on several warranty cases, some of which have involved breaches of warranty. Three elements must be present to prove that a breach of warranty has occurred: the warranty, the defect, and causation. But first, I will explain everything you need to know about product warranties.

Summary of the Key Findings

  • There are 4 types of product warranties: special, limited, express, and implied
  • An express written warranty is the easiest way to prove that the seller broke a promise
  • Most consumer products have implied warranties, meaning that the product is guaranteed to function when you buy it

What is a Warranty?

Two coworkers discussing a clipboard

A warranty is a guarantee that a product will work as advertised. If it doesn't, the buyer can get their money back or a replacement product [1].

The type of warranty you get depends on state law and the type of product you buy. A warranty is a guarantee from the seller that the product's quality and/or performance will be good. 

Almost all consumer products have a warranty, even if it's not written down. 

4 Types of Warranties

Based on my experience in the field, there are 4 main types of warranties. 

1. Implied Warranty of Merchantability

A person disassembling a computer The implied warranty of merchantability is the most common type of warranty. This means the product is guaranteed to work when you buy it [2].

For example, if you buy a new car, it should start when you turn the key. If it doesn't, you can take it back to the dealership, and they have to fix it.

Almost all consumer products come with a guarantee that the product that they purchased will work. This is called an implied warranty. 

For example, if a vacuum cleaner doesn't generate enough suction to clean the average carpet, it violates the implied warranty.

The law requires that products meet specific standards which should be included in the implied warranty, and they are:

  • Make sure to follow the standards that are agreed to in the contract.
  • The goods must be suitable for the particular purpose the buyer asked for them, even if the buyer did not specify that use.
  • It would help if you had enough of the product to meet the contract requirements, and it must meet quality standards.
  • The product must be labeled and packaged according to the agreement.
  • Even if the contract sale does not mention package label specifications, you must still meet them.

2. Express Warranty

A lawyer holding a brown envelopeAn express warranty is a written or oral statement from the seller about the quality of the product. 

There are different types of express warranties. A written warranty guarantees that a product meets a certain standard of quality. A spoken warranty is the same as a written warranty, but it's given verbally.

Express warranties must include:

  • Agreements or things were said and made during negotiations.
  • Tags are used to show the name of a product.
  • A sales agreement between the buyer and seller.

There are three ways you may get an express warranty:

  • The supplier confirms to the purchaser that the products are of good quality.
  • A description of the services or consumer goods 
  • A model or sample is used during bargaining or sales negotiations.

Express warranties are warranties that manufacturers create. If an item fails, the producer will replace or fix it for free. An express warranty does not have to be written; it can also be an oral one.

Some statements on prints would not have the words "warranty" or "guaranteed." Even without those words, it is still an express written warranty. You should also be aware of statements such as "these tires last a lifetime." That statement does not count as an express warranty.

3. Special Warranty

A person holding up paperwork with a pen on her handA special warranty is a limited warranty that only covers specific parts or problems with the product. For example, a five-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty on a new car would be a special warranty.

This type of warranty is often found in contracts for the sale of goods. The Parties agree that certain items are sold "as is" without other warranties.

The buyer should be aware that "as is" does not mean that the good cannot be defective but that the seller has no liability for those defects.

4. Extended Warranty

Two lawyers discussing a clipboard between each otherAn extended warranty is an additional warranty that the buyer can purchase from the seller or manufacturer. This type of warranty is also called a service contract. An extended warranty can cover repairs or replacements for a longer period than the original warranty.

The Uniform Commercial Code is a law that applies in all states and the District of Columbia. It makes it easier to deal with interstate legal issues [3].

The revised version of Article Two of the UCC was approved by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws and the American Law Institute in 2003. This meant that all states would have the same definitions according to federal law. However, as of 2006, no state had adopted Article Two.

Breach of Warranty

A lawyer writing down on a paper

A breach of warranty occurs when the seller does not meet their obligations under warranty. The buyer can sue the seller for breach of contract. The buyer can also ask for a refund or return of the product [4].

Breach of warranty is a type of strict liability. This means that if a product has a design defect and causes injury, the company that made the product can be held responsible, even if it did not do anything wrong.

According to warranty law, to prove a breach of warranty, the buyer must show that:

  • The seller had a duty to meet the warranty
  • The seller did not fulfill that ordinary purposes or duty
  • The seller's breach harmed the buyer's personal safety

If the buyer can prove these things, then they may be able to get damages from the seller. Damages can include the cost of repairs, replacement of the product, or a refund of the purchase price.

Sometimes it is hard to fix the problem with a product. If there is a lot of the product, it might be harder to find the problem. It might be hard to fix if the problem is with how the product works.

Based on my previous experiences, you can sue the company for breaking the warranty if you ever received defective items that are not what was promised in a warranty. This is true for both express and implied warranties.

For example, suppose the buyer is a manufacturer of a product that was supposed to be a component of the product the buyer manufactures. Because of something the seller did, the buyer failed to produce products that it had contracts to sell to its customers. In that case, the buyer might be able to recover the cost of lost profits.

In general, however, the buyer will only be able to recover the cost of repairing or replacing the defective product.

However, if you get a defective product when you buy it from a store, there are different things you can do. You can try to return to the store and get a new one, or if the store doesn't have more of that product, you might be able to get it fixed.

If a consumer has a warranty for a product they purchase, the seller or manufacturer is required to give them a working product that meets the warranty. If the product is not working, the buyer can ask for their money back or get a new product.

"Although oral warranties are binding, it's a lot harder to prove what a salesperson promises if there's nothing in writing. The buyer also has to distinguish between actual warranties and mere statements of opinion or predictions."- The Legal Information Institute

 

If a faulty product will not be fixed or replaced, one of the following actions may be available:

  • If someone is making installment payments on a product, they may be able to stop making payments until the seller or manufacturer agrees to honor their warranty. 
  • If an injured person can't resolve the issue with the seller, they might go to their local Better Business Bureau. Or, the city, county, or state attorney general’s office where they live might have a consumer complaint agency that can help them. 
  • If a person and the seller cannot agree on how to fix the problem, and the warranty is still being broken, that person can sue the seller for breaking the warranty. The amount of money a buyer can sue for depends on how valuable the item is and how much money the buyer wants. In some cases, buyers can only sue in small claims court.

What are the Limitations of Warranty Liability?

A person writing on a notebookThe limitations of warranty liability are things the seller does not have to do under warranty. These things might be written in the contract, or they might be implied by law.

For example, a seller might limit its liability for breach of warranty by saying that it will only repair or replace the product and will not pay for any other damages. Or, the seller might say that it is not responsible for any damage that the product causes.

These limitations can be found in the contract, or they might be implied by law. For example, if a product is marked "as is," this usually means that the seller has disclaimed all warranties and will not be responsible for any damages.

In my opinion, it is important to read the contract carefully to see what warranties are given and what their limitations are. If you have any questions, you should seek assistance through legal services before you sign the contract.

Warranty law can be complex, and it varies from state to state. If you have a problem with a product you purchased, you should talk to a lawyer to find out what your rights are.

Related Articles:

See all related product liability lawsuits our lawyers have taken on.

How Can You Be Compensated for a Warranty Breach?

You can be compensated for a warranty breach through the coverage of the cost of the product, the cost of repairs, the cost of medical bills, and other costs. 

The buyer of the item sold may even have the chance to sue in small claims court and might also be able to recover punitive damages, which are designed to punish the company for its misconduct.

FAQs

What is a breach of condition and breach of warranty?

A breach of condition is a failure to meet a condition of the contract. A breach of warranty is a failure to meet a warranty of the written contract as per the contract law.

What is the effect of a breach of warranty?

The effect of a breach of warranty is that the buyer can ask for their money back or get a new product.

What is the remedy for a breach of warranty?

The remedy for a breach of warranty is that the buyer can ask for their money back or get a new product.

What is the difference between a warranty and a guarantee?

The difference between a warranty and a guarantee is that a warranty is a promise made by the seller about the certain quality of the product. A guarantee is a promise made by the manufacturer about the quality of the product. 

What is the difference between a material breach and an immaterial breach?

The difference between a material breach and an immaterial breach is that a material breach entails the use of such products that did not fulfill the essential purpose they were supposed to. Immaterial breach entails that goods sold only failed to fulfill a particular purpose that didn’t impede the product’s overall quality. 

Filing a Lawsuit for your Warranty Case

Breach of Warranty is a legal claim that a product is not working as it should. The warranty claims can be made against the store where you purchased the product or against the manufacturer of the product, even though you exercised care.

If you have a product complaint, try to work it out with the store or manufacturer. If you cannot do so, you may be able to bring legal action against the company. 

Contact our legal team of experienced product liability attorneys at Schmidt & Clark and get a free consultation session if you think you have a case against negligent sellers.


References:

  1. https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/warranty
  2. https://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Implied+Warranty 
  3. https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/implied_warranty_of_merchantability
  4. https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/breach_of_warranty

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