If I or my family members suffer an accident in Puerto Rico, what are the elements that are taken into consideration in Puerto Rico to determine damages?
On November 28, 2020 a new Civil Code became effective in Puerto Rico. This new Civil Code and in particular, chapter 5 of the same, substitutes the previous Civil Code with regard to damages claims in Puerto Rico and provides additional rights and remedies not available under the previous Civil Code. Under the new Code, Article 1536 provides that the person that by fault or negligence causes damages to another, is obligated to repair said damage. The previous Code like the present have the same finality: to repair damages caused by fault or negligence. To be able to have a right to compensation after suffering damages due to an accident, as a general rule under the previous Civil Code required: (1) Physical or emotional damages (the possibility of pure economic damages only may also play under the new code).; (2) that the damage was caused by the fault or negligence of the defendant; and (3) that a nexus exists between the act and the damages caused to suffer.
Depending on the type and place of the accident, other laws and regulations may also be applicable, such as Admiralty Laws, special laws, Laws of the United States, etc.
If you or Your family members suffered an accident in Puerto Rico, request legal advice from a duly licensed and competent attorney, licensed to practice in Puerto Rico as soon as the circumstances allow you to do so. Your legal rights depend on a number of factors and your particular situation, to include place of the accident, time, type of claim, damages suffered, etc. ALL LEGAL CASES ARE NOT THE SAME. WE RECOMMEND THAT YOU SEEK COMPETENT LEGAL COUNSEL FROM A DULY LICENSED PUERTO RICO ATTORNEY OF YOUR CHOICE. PARTICULARLY ONE WITH EXPERIENCE HANDLING DAMAGES ACTIONS. DO NOT DEPEND ONLY ON THE INFORMATION PROVIDED IN THIS WEB PAGE. SEEK COMPETENT LEGAL ADVICE.
Do I need to ALWAYS contract an attorney to attend to a damages claim caused by an accident?
NO. YOU DO NOT NEED TO CONTRACT WITH AN ATTORNEY ALWAYS. Not all legal cases, situations, damages, etc. are the same. Depending on your particular situation, you may not need to hire an attorney to represent you. However, ALWAYS TRY TO CONSULT ANY DAMAGES CLAIM THAT YOU MAY HAVE WITH A DULY LICENSED ATTORNEY BEFORE YOU COMMENCE ANY LEGAL ACTION, TO INCLUDE A NEGOTIATION PROCESS. CONSULT WITH AN ATTORNEY AT THE EARLIEST POSSIBLE OPPORTUNITY. YOU ALWAYS HAVE THE RIGHT TO CONSULT WITH AN ATTORNEY. IF YOU DECIDE TO CONTRACT AN ATTORNEY, contract one the same way you hire other professional service providers.
IT IS ADVISABLE THAT BEFORE YOU BEGIN ANY CLAIM OR NEGOTIATION PROCESS, that you consult with an attorney to understand your rights. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO NEGOTIATE if you do not know your PUERTO RICO legal rights. Again, every jurisdiction is different. What may be aplicable in another Country or State, does not necessarily apply to Puerto Rico, and vice versa.
We again remind you that Puerto Rico just implemented a new Civil Code that may affect your rights to claims and compensation. KNOW YOUR RIGHTS. You always have a right to consult with an attorney of your choosing. Always assume that who caused damages to you has his or her own attorney providing advice! GET YOUR OWN COMPETENT ADVICE FROM A DULY LICENSED IN PUERTO RICO ATTORNEY.
In certain cases your claim may fall under the jurisdiction of one or more Puerto Rico government agencies that were created to protect the rights of consumers, such as DACO (Department of Consumer Affairs). Seek competent legal advice before you commence any legal claim.
Can a business establishment, store, hotel, etc., be held responsible for an accident that occurred in a business establishment?
As a general rule, under Puerto Rico Law and jurisprudence, a Business establishment open to the public needs to take the necessary measures to ensure that the areas open to the public are reasonably safe. The owner and/or operator of a business or a commercial establishment needs to provide reasonable measures to maintain the areas open to the public in safe conditions so that their clients do not suffer accidents and damages. The duty of the business establishment includes the obligation to anticipate and to avoid accident and injuries in their commercial establishment, particularly if they have knowledge of the dangerous condition.
Said obligation of a business establishment IS NOT ABSOLUTE. Not every accident that happens in a Business establishment generates responsibility and a duty to make hole the injured. An owner of a commercial establishment does not have absolute responsibility over all types of accidents and damages suffered by its clients, particularly if they claim no knowledge of the dangerous condition.
To try to make a successful claim the injured party needs to be able to offer proof that the Business establishment omitted a duty to act or incurred in negligence that caused or contributed to the occurrence of the accident and the damages suffered by the claimant. Many times to establish this the services of expert witnesses or accident reconstruction specialist may be needed.
Certain Business establishments and activities have a special duty to act and protect the public from harm, such as hotels. This responsibility generates a higher level of duty of care than the duty of care imposed on other types of persons and commercial establishments. The right of compensation for an accident can be affected by a number of factors such as time, place, the facts, dangerous conditions, knowledge or lack of knowledge, rules and regulations, waivers, the actor that caused the damages, laws, insurance or lack of insurance coverage, etc.
Accidents that happen in business establishments are fact specific and time sensitive.
NOT ALL ACCIDENTS ARE THE SAME. YOUR RIGHTS ARE AFFECTED BY A NUMBER OF FACTORS. You should contact a competent attorney admitted to the practice of law in Puerto Rico in order to get legal advice regarding your rights and steps that you should follow after suffering an accident.
How much time do I have to commence a legal claim in Puerto Rico? THE ONE (1) YEAR STATUE OF LIMITATIONS.
In Puerto Rico, as a general rule, you have ONE (1) YEAR to make a claim counted from the date of your accident. In case of a claim against the Government of Puerto Rico or its municipalities, you need to also comply with certain formal notice requirements in a short period of time after the occurrence of an accident.
You should consult with a competent attorney admitted to the practice of law in Puerto Rico in order to get legal advice regarding your rights and steps that you should follow.
What initial steps to take after an accident in Puerto Rico?
First, ensure that you and your family members are safe as well as the safety and wellbeing of anyone else involved in an accident. Included below are recommendation and suggestions that you may want to implement, depending on the circumstances of the accident: