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5001 Seminary Road, Suite 110
Alexandria, VA 22311
Inevitably, unwitting consumers will sometimes purchase products that perform in a manner inconsistent with the intentions of both the manufacturer and the consumer. Such products are said to be defective. Defects can range from a simple inoperability to one that causes property damage and personal injury.
A warranty covering a product can be either express or implied.
An express warranty is one that uses the written word to inform the purchaser of guarantees, if any, made by the manufacturer regarding the functionality of the product. If the product does not function according to promises made in the express warranty, any person rightfully owning and using the product can make a cause of action arising out of the failure of the product. This will usually allow the consumer to have the product repaired or replaced. Any party forming a link in the chain of manufacture and marketing will incur liability for the product failure.
An implied warranty of merchantability is a doctrine of law providing that a product must be fit for its intended use. The intended use of a product might include any reasonable and foreseeable ways in which a product is used by the consumer. For example, a person might reasonably use a fence post as a leaning post. If a failure arises from regular use or such a reasonable and foreseeable use, it will breach the implied warranty. An example of an unreasonable or unforeseeable use is a pistol that discharges while being used as a hammer.
Implied warranties do not extend to individuals past the purchaser of the good, and can be limited or voided by disclaimers.
Scope of harm
If a product harms itself, and no other property or persons, the only claim available will be a warranty cause of action. Under such a claim, repair or replacement of the product will be the remedy, but nothing beyond that. This is true even under circumstances in which the consumer reasonably and foreseeably relies on the product and suffers economic loss from the product’s defect. But when the product causes damage or injury beyond itself, a cause of action in negligence or strict liability is possible. To understand the distinction, consider the following scenarios:
A warehouse owner purchases a large conveyor belt system with an electric motor for moving freight back and forth from trucks to forklift and other warehouse personnel. The electric motor fails while the conveyor is under both implied warranty and express warranty. The engine overheats and burns out, rendering it inoperable. The conveyor itself is damaged, but nothing and nobody else is harmed. The warehouse owner, meanwhile, suffers economic loss because the business of moving, loading, and storing freight cannot be conducted. Still, the only cause of action here is a warranty claim.
Contrast the above scenario with circumstances in which the motor overheats and causes merchandise boxed in corrugated cardboard to catch fire, which quickly spreads causing both property damage and injury to workers. Here, the warehouse owner can sue the manufacturer of the conveyor for personal injury and property damage. Injured warehouse workers, also, can sue and recover for injuries.
We Are Here To Help
If you or a loved one has suffered property damage or personal injury arising caused by a defective product, you will need legal representation to prove breaches of warranty and to recover money for harm caused. Contact the attorneys at the Kamerow Law Firm, PLLC,in Alexandria, for a free and confidential consultation by calling 703-370-8088.