Suing an Abuser for Money
You may have a right to seek justice from an abuser through the court system where you live. When people are injured by others, they can seek what the law refers to as “damages,” in the form of money, for such things as medical bills, lost wages or employment, physical and emotional pain and suffering, and, in some cases, to punish the abuser. Each state has its own laws on these subjects, but, for the most part, they are very similar when it comes to injuries from abuse. To do this, you will most likely need the help of a lawyer. Some lawyers will take a case like this for a “contingent fee,” which means that the lawyer doesn’t get paid unless you win in court, and then s/he takes a percentage (usually one third) of whatever damages the judge orders. Sometimes the judge will order the defendant to pay for your attorney’s fees.
If your claim is for an amount that is $15,000 or less, then you can file an action to get that money using a quick (“expedited”) process under Rule 60 of the Civil Procedure Rules.1 Note: The $15,000 maximum does not include interest and litigation costs, so the total you are asking for may be over $15,000. To read more information about filing in Puerto Rico under Rule 60, you may want to visit the Poder Judicial page, which is only available in Spanish.
If you are suing an abuser for damages due to injuries, broken property, publishing your intimate pictures2 or something similar, you need to file a lawsuit in a court of the municipality where the abuse/incident(s) occurred.3 You have one year from the date of the incident to file a claim for damages.
There are two types of damages you can request: monetary and moral damages.
- Monetary damages include those that are directly caused by the incident, such as medical bills or the replacement of property. You can also request monetary damages if you had to miss days at work and you lost wages as a result of the incident.
- Moral damages relate to suffering and emotional damages caused as a direct result of the incident, including physical pain, if any.
If, on the other hand, you are suing for money owed or a broken oral or written contract, you would file this lawsuit in the municipal court where the person who owes you the money lives.4
You may talk to the clerk of court for help in filing the lawsuit in a municipal court or you may want to get the help of an attorney. For legal referrals, go to our PR Finding a Lawyer page.
1 See Rule 60 of the Civil Procedure Rules, 32 L.P.R.A. Ap. V, R. 60
2 Law 21-2021, Law against Revenge Porn in Puerto Rico
3 See Rule 3.4 of the Civil Procedure Rules, 32 L.P.R.A. Ap. V, R. 3.4
4 See Rule 3.5 of the Civil Procedure Rules, 32 L.P.R.A. Ap. V, R. 3.5