Breach of warranty disputes can be somewhat confusing for first-time plaintiffs who are just getting a handle on personal injury and product defect law. In Alabama, as is the case in most other states, the breach of an express product warranty can give rise to a claim for significant damages, depending on the circumstances.
What would be considered a breach of an express warranty case?
Suppose that you are injured while using a ladder. The ladder is rated to handle a certain amount of weight. Though this is not listed specifically as a “warranty” on the box, it suffices as a guarantee equivalent to an express warranty. Later, you use the ladder while removing heavy materials from the roof of your house. Despite the fact that the ladder is rated to handle more than the amount of weight you are carrying, it fails and the ladder collapses, causing you to sustain serious injuries.
Given the above fact pattern, you would almost certainly have an actionable product defect lawsuit, one aspect of which would involve the breach of an express warranty.
Warranty law is based on contract, and as such, there must be privity between the end-user and the defendant. If the retail store makes a warranty that is not in the manufacturer’s marketing materials, for example, then you would not have an actionable claim against the manufacturer — your claim would exist solely against the seller for making the warranty.
Express warranties are further unique in that they give the plaintiff room to pursue a lawsuit for product defects that would not otherwise justify litigation, as a warranty can promise product functionality over-and-above the baseline expectations for the item.
Suppose that you purchase off-roading tires. The manufacturer markets the product as being one of the few on the market that can handle sharp, rocky paths, as the material is designed to resist tearing and puncture damage. You take your vehicle (with the off-roading tires) on a trip through an area with sharp rocks as advertised in the manufacturer’s marketing materials, and the tires puncture quickly, causing your vehicle to lose its balance and crash. You sustain injuries as a result.
Now, if no express warranty was made (by virtue of the advertising materials), it’s unlikely that you would have a recoverable claim for damages. Off-roading tires have limits, and sharp rocks are not traversable for most tires on the market. Without the presence of an additional, express warranty of function, the manufacturer would avoid liability.
If you have sustained injuries in a product defect-related accident in which the manufacturer or seller gave an express warranty as to a particular aspect of the product, and it failed to achieve it, then you may be entitled to bring an action for damages pursuant to the legal theory of breach of warranty. Breach of warranty claims are often asserted alongside other product defect claims, such as those brought on the basis of strict liability or negligence.
Here at Cross & Smith, our attorneys have decades of experience litigating claims on behalf of injured plaintiffs involved in a variety of disputes, including product defect lawsuits centered around the breach of an express warranty.
We understand the challenges faced by plaintiffs attempting to take on businesses with significantly more resources at their disposal (manufacturers and sellers) and are comfortable trying cases all the way through to conclusion in order to secure a favorable result for each client. This persistent, detail-oriented approach to litigation has helped us achieve many successful settlements and trial verdicts over the years.