Premises Liability Claims in Puerto Rico

Premises Liability Claims in Puerto Rico are governed by Article 1802 of the Civil Code.  The law imposes tort liability on any person who, by act or omission, causes damage to another through fault or negligence.  Establishing negligence requires a plaintiff to  show that: (1) defendant owed a duty to plaintiff; (2) defendant breached that duty (i.e. defendant was negligent); (3) plaintiff suffered injury; and (4) a sufficient causal nexus between defendant’s breach of the duty of care and plaintiff’s injury. The ‘foreseeability’ of the injury is central to the elements of both breach of duty and proximate cause.

A for profit operation  owes a duty of reasonable care to business invitees.  Although business owners need not protect patrons from all possible harms, premises liability claims in Puerto Rico arises when a business breaches the duty of care by creating a reasonably foreseeable risk of harm. These risks can arise in the form of  negligent maintenance and negligent design.  In the former, the breach of the duty of care arises from defendant’s lack of upkeep on the premises.; risks that the business  knew or should have known. In the latter,   breach of the duty of care arises from defendant’s failure to create a safe environment; a danger arising from the intended design.  To show breach, Plaintiff must “present evidence, usually through an expert witness, as to the relevant standard of care for the design and the way(s) in which the defendant’s design fell below that standard.” Prado Alvarez v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., 313 F. Supp. 2d 61, 73 (D.P.R. 2004).