A breach of warranty occurs when claims or representations made about a particular product, at the time of sale, later prove to be false or erroneous. An express warranty is an explicit representation by a merchant that a certain product will perform in a manner consistent with a buyer’s expectations. A warranty may also be a promise that a product is guaranteed to be free from defects for a specified period of time.
One of the most common instances in which the breach of an express warranty occurs is in connection with the sale of an automobile. In most cases, the manufacturer of the vehicle will warranty, or guarantee, that certain components of the car will operate without defects for a specified number of miles, or for a certain period of time. Should the vehicle fail in this regard during the warranty period, a breach of warranty has occurred and the manufacturer, or more commonly, the car dealer is legally obligated to repair the defects for free.
Implied warranties arise not from the express statements of the seller, but by operation of law. Breach of the implied warranty of merchantability occurs when a product fails to perform in a manner that ordinary buyers of that particular product would expect. Merchantability refers to the reasonable expectations of users of the particular product. For example, the purchase of a ball that fails to bounce correctly, or rapidly deflates, would constitute a breach of the implied warranty of merchantability. In many situations, a seller may disclaim the implied warranty of merchantability at the time of sale by using the phrase, the product is sold “as is.” In some jurisdictions, this type of manufacturer’s disclaimer, on the implied warrantabilty for certain consumer goods, is prohibited.
A breach of the implied warrantability of fitness for a particular purpose occurs when the buyer relies on the merchant to sell him a specific product for a certain need or purpose. For example, a breach of warranty will occur if a buyer asks a merchant for a drill that will bore through concrete, but receives a drill that fails to properly perform this particular task. In some jurisdictions, breach of warranty is a recognized cause of action for a products liability lawsuit. Any personal injuries sustained by a user of a product as a result of a breach of either the implied warranty of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose are typically legally actionable.