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Warranties implied or express serve to protect consumers

In our previous post we attempted to give San Antonio readers a view of how state laws seek to give consumers some measure of protection against defective products. Goods manufacturers and sellers have an obligation to make sure the items they put in the hands of the public are as safe as they can be. Still, injuries occur that sometimes demand pursuit of civil action for the sake of accountability and justice.

Aside from strict liability argument that might be raised in the event that defective product causes injury or death, businesses are likely to respond positively to a claim in order to protect its public image.

Another legal theory that might be used to support a defective product claim falls under the category of breach of warranty. Nearly every new product a consumer buys is covered by some sort of warranty. Serving as something of an umbrella is the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. If a product costs more than a few dollars, Magnuson-Moss sets certain standards.

A written warranty may not be required under this federal statute. If one is provided by the manufacturer, however, it must be written in plain language and specify what's covered, for how long, and what procedures might need to be followed to resolve possible disputes. It doesn't cover oral warranties.

Express warranties can be either written or verbal guarantees of a product's quality or durability. Sometimes a manufacturer's claim about its product can serve as an express warranty. For example, a light bulb maker might claim a product will last x-number of hours. That's an express warranty, even if it doesn't seem like one.

Some products might come with an implied warranty. For example, if you tell a retailer that you want shoes you can run in and they recommend loafers, that could be construed as a warranty. If you then went running in the loafers, threw a shoe and broke your ankle, a personal injury claim might be justified.

Lifetime warranties may be the most confusing. What defines lifetime; the life of the product? Your life? You'll likely find that the lifetime runs up until the product is discontinued.

Details should be in the documentation, which reinforces the old sage advice, always read the fine print.

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