When an individual is seriously injured by a product, he or she may have the option of bringing a products liability claim to recover damages. There are three different sets of circumstances that can apply to these cases, including strict liability, negligence, and breach of warranty.
For strict products liability, the plaintiff is not required to prove that the product’s seller or manufacturer was negligent. This is seen with products that are defective and unduly dangerous. In negligence claims, a plaintiff must prove that the seller, manufacturer, wholesaler, or another party had a duty to use reasonable care but failed to do so, directly resulting in the plaintiff’s injury.
What is Breach of Warranty?
Commercially sold consumer products come with product warranties, which guarantee that the product will work in a certain way or adhere to certain standards. These warranties are covered by both state and federal laws. If a plaintiff wants to initiate a breach of warranty lawsuit, he or she will need to follow state and federal guidelines. When a lawsuit is based on breach of warranty, it is considered a breach of contract lawsuit.
There are three main types of breach of warranty products liability claims, which are express warranties, implied warranties of fitness, and an implied warranty of merchantability. Before considering breach of warranty lawsuits, it is helpful to understand their similarities and differences.
What are Express Warranties?
These can be verbal or written and can be found in sale contracts or spoken out loud. These warranties usually promise that the product will do specific things or perform in a certain way. A hard copy of a contract is much more useful as it can be submitted in court as proof of breach of warranty. Verbal promises are harder to pin down since there is likely no record of what the salesperson may have said at the time of sale. For example, if an auto salesperson verbally promises a buyer that the car will come with free satellite radio, but it does not, that buyer may be in a bad position if that promise falls through.
What are Implied Warranties of Fitness?
This is when a seller is aware that the buyer is purchasing a product for a set purpose. Therefore, the seller is also aware that the buyer is relying on their advice and judgment to pick the correct product to meet that need. The buyer is also trusting that the seller will know if the product is not the right one for the buyer at that time. An example of this could be if a buyer needed a self-inflating swimming pool, but the seller sold the buyer a swimming pool that needs to be inflated with a hose. The product is not defective, but it violates the implied warranty of fitness.
What is an Implied Warranty of Merchantability?
The third type of breach of warranty is breaking an implied warranty of merchantability. This kind of warranty is supposed to guarantee that a product has proper labeling, no manufacturing defects, and no inherent design defects. When a product is for sale, there is an implied promise to consumers that the product is appropriate and well-suited for its intended purposes. For example, if a floor cleaning machine was labeled as being usable on all floors, yet, it was not built to clean wood floors without damaging them, this could fall under this category.
What is the Uniform Commercial Code?
When a buyer is confronted with a breach of warranty, he or she may be able to sue under the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC). This is administered by the Uniform Law Commission, which was formed in 1892. The UCC is a broad set of laws that govern all U.S. commercial transactions. This way, businesses and consumers can enter into contracts and know that the terms will be enforced. Although it is not a federal law, it is a state law that has been uniformly adopted. If a buyer is facing a breach of warranty after purchasing a product, he or she may be able to recover damages for personal injuries, economic costs, and attorney’s fees.
What Else Should I Know When Considering a Breach of Warranty Case?
States have different regulations that apply to breach of warranty cases. Some have implied warranty statues, which can be found in the state’s commercial code laws. These may not be restricted to different products and can apply to most product categories. If the warranty was given by a seller to a buyer verbally or in writing and the product caused the seller to be injured, a breach of warranty case may be appropriate.
Manufacturers must follow specific rules when they create warranties, and they are also permitted to disclaim warranties that have been implied under state laws. In these circumstances, very specific, clear, and apparent language must be used for clarification, and related documents should be included with the product. Some manufacturers are able to successfully disclaim all implied warranties, meaning that a breach of warranty case would be ineffective.
Plaintiffs in these cases need to show that the product in question directly caused their injuries. It is important to gather corroborating evidence that shows a clear record. This can include photographs, medical receipts, projected long-term cost of care, lost wages due to an inability to work, and the original warranty.
What are the Implied Warranty Laws in Pennsylvania?
Pennsylvania laws consist of implied warranty, merchantability, usage of trade, and involve sellers that are obliged to adhere to these rules. In order to be sold, goods must be fit for intended purposes, must be properly packaged and labeled, and conform to how its labeled. The quality of products and goods must also be in line with similar products of goods in that line of trade.
Additionally, sellers are required to know the buyer’s purpose for purchasing the product, and buyers rely on that knowledge to inform their purchasing decision. This is different from an ordinary purpose, and once the buyer has explained it, the seller should address those needs.
What Other Factors Should I Consider?
Oftentimes, a person will borrow a product from a friend or family member and then become injured. Most states will not require a written contract as proof, and the injured person may be able to recover damages. The victim does not have to be the purchaser, in other words. Also, manufacturers may implement safety modifications after a product is found to have injured people; this may warrant a breach of warranty case.
When a consumer purchases a product, he or she is usually not thinking about any possible harm that the product could cause. There is an implicit trust between buyer and seller, and promises are made through warranties. People who are prone to impulse buying might spend money on a significant product without much thought. Taking the time to research the product’s history, reviews, and thoroughly reading any warranties and disclaimers are proactive measures that can protect buyers; doing so can prevent injuries that lead to dire economic consequences.
Philadelphia Products Liability Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC are Committed to Protecting Consumers
If you suffer from injuries that were caused from a product, speak to our legal team today. Our Philadelphia products liability lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC are familiar with federal and state regulations, and are highly experienced with all kinds of products liability cases. For a free consultation, complete our online form or call us at 215-569-8488. Located in Philadelphia, Abington, and Media, Pennsylvania; Wilmington, Delaware; and Haddonfield, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout the surrounding areas.