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Who can be held responsible if I'm hurt by a defective product?

There are so many things we take for granted on a given day. You get up from bed and brush your teeth. What if the plastic brush snaps suddenly and you wind up jabbing the inside of your throat? How about when you climb into your car and buckle the seat belt? Does the thought that the device might not work ever enter your mind?

That's not a shortcoming on any of our parts. We take these things for granted because if they have made it into the marketplace, we expect that their defects have been identified and eliminated. And yet, as a check of the Ocala-area headlines will reflect, there are still a lot of bad products out there and a lot of people wind up suffering serious injury or death as a result.

Considering that accidents are by nature something that are unplanned, it is likely that most victims don't even think to ask why they occurred. And if they don't ask that question, they certainly aren't likely to wonder who might bear responsibility or what options might exist for holding a manufacturer of a defective product accountable.

But there are provisions for such things under the law. Each state has its own set of rules.

In Florida, one of the relevant statutes can be found in Chapter 768 of Title XLV, or rather Title 45, the law dealing with torts. And specific to product liability actions, the law says damages may be sought from anyone who may have had a hand in the "manufacture, construction, design, formulation, installation, preparation, or assembly of a product."

Put another way, liability for damages suffered because of a defective product may rest with any person or company along the chain of distribution. Indeed, it might be that a portion of fault might rest with many parties and the law allows the courts to divide an award on the basis of a percentage of fault if that's appropriate.

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