Q: How can I file a small claims law suit in Puerto Rico? I
Without further information, I can only counsel regarding the forum before which to present your cause. If you received your injury while on a cruise ship or ferry boat within the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and depending on the severity of said injuries, you may present your claim before the Puerto Rico Tourism Department. If on land, you may present your claim to the town hall ("alcaldía") of the city in which you were injured, to allow them the opportunity to refer your case to their insurance company. You may also present your case before the General Court of Justice, Court of First Instance of the municipality in which you were injured.
Be advised: if you reside in the states, you may bring your cause before the Puerto Rico courts. However, the Puerto Rico Rules of Civil Procedure require that you deposit a bond of not less than $1,000 before the courts, or a greater amount as decided by the court, depending on the damages that you propose to claim.
There is no "small claims" court for personal injury claims in Puerto Rico. You will have to file suit in state court or federal court (if your claim exceeds $75,000 and you and the defendant live in different states). If you plan to sue a cruise ship, be advised that most cruise ship lines have a forum selection clause which require that you file suit in Miami. If the excursion company is based in PR and you live in the mainland US, you are better off filing suit in federal court where you have a right to a trial by jury (provided that you meet the above conditions) which is not available in state courts.
Feel free to contact us should you have additional questions.
Alberto J. Castañer, Esq.
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