Hotel & Guest House Liability

People stay at hotels and guest houses for a variety of reasons, including vacation, business or temporary housing. In Puerto Rico, hotel and guest house owners have a duty to make their property safe for their guests and patrons. Unfortunately, injuries occur at hotels and guest houses in a variety of ways, including slip/trip and falls and security issues, and when an incident occurs because there is a condition that is unsafe, the property owner may face a hotel liability lawsuit.

In the case of hotels and guest houses, the Puerto Rico Commonwealth & District Courts have consistently held that “[a] guest staying at a hotel expects the latter to take all necessary security measures to avoid foreseeable risks.”

Hotel & guest house liability lawsuits in Puerto Rico are generally brought under the legal theory known as commercial/business premises liability, although in the case of hotels and guest houses the duty of care of owners toward their guests is much stringent. Premises liability means that a property owner has a duty to keep the property safe from known or foreseeable dangerous conditions. Failure to maintain the property in a safe condition could entitle the injured party to file a premises liability claim for negligence against the hotel or guest house owner, in order to seek fair compensation for the damages suffered, which include, compensation for physical damages, medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, among other compensable damages.

The following is a list of common hotel and guest house accidents and injuries which are the basis for most lawsuits:

  • Slip/Trip and Falls in rooms, stairs, corridors, sidewalks, boardwalks, pool, health club, bath, shower, spa, etc. Hotels and guest houses have an obligation to their guests that their facilities are suitable for humans to occupy, including compliance with ADA guidelines, and the Puerto Rico and federal construction standards and regulations.
  • Inadequate Security – inadequate lighting and failure to patrol or have video surveillance in parking lots, stairwells, lobbies and hallways. Failure to protect guests from harm caused by other guests or non-guests, patrons and staff. It is foreseeable to hotel owners that guests are easy targets for criminals, unfamiliar with their surroundings, often carrying cash and valuables instead of leaving them back at the hotel room. It is the hotels responsibility to provide a safe environment, including well lit parking garages and common areas as well as providing adequate security.
  • Fitness Center Maintenance – failure to maintain equipment or to allow use of guests of faulty equipment. Failure to post or inadequate posting of warnings, rules and regulations.
  • Food Poisoning
  • Pool / Beach Security – In the hotel has access to a beach or swimming pool area, it is the hotels responsibility to maintain said areas and its surroundings properly supervised and maintained, including maintaining the landscape (trimming branches, palm trees and removing coconuts) and warning the guests of possible foreseeable risks (currents, slippery, no life guard on duty, etc.).
  • Elevator Injuries - it is the hotels responsibility to maintain their elevators in safe conditions. This includes having the adequate lighting in areas surrounding the elevators and constantly monitoring the proper functioning and maintenance of the equipment.

If you have suffered an accident, as a general rule under Puerto Rico law, the injured has a one year statute of limitations that can be interrupted as provided by law. Personal injury actions of minors, have a different statute of limitations. If you have suffered an accident in Puerto Rico or if you have any further questions on Puerto Rico's Personal Injury Statutes, and would like to contact a Puerto Rico accident attorney, feel free to contact us.