Nebraska has its own set of state laws that affect personal injury cases and insurance settlements. In this article, we'll look at a few key Nebraska personal injury laws.
A statute of limitations is a law that sets a limit on the amount of time you have to go to civil court and file a lawsuit. Different types of cases have different deadlines. Nebraska law sets a time limit of four years on filing personal injury cases in the state's civil court system.
It's important to keep Nebraska's four-year time limit in mind, because if you try to file your case after the four-year window has closed, the court will almost certainly refuse to hear it, and you'll lose the right to get compensation for your injuries.
The full text of Nebraska's statute of limitations for personal injury cases appears in Section 25-207 of the Nebraska Revised Statutes.
When fault is shared between two or more parties, Nebraska applies a "modified comparative fault" rule. This rule reduces or eliminates damages awards, depending on the amount of fault assigned to the injured person.
Here's an example of Nebraska's modified comparative fault rule in action. Suppose that you're waiting at a stop light one day when you are rear-ended by another driver. One of your car's brake lights was not working at the time of the accident. At trial, it's determined that you total damages equal $10,000, but that you are 15 percent at fault for the accident, and the other driver is 85 percent at fault. Under Nebraska's modified comparative fault rule, you are allowed to collect 85 percent of the total damages, or the total minus the 15 percent of fault assigned to you. Here, that equals $8,500.
As long as your fault is under 50 percent, you will be allowed to collect some compensation. But if your fault is 50 percent or more, your damages award in Nebraska drops to zero automatically, and you may not collect from any other at-fault party.
Courts in Nebraska are required to apply the modified comparative fault rule whenever an injured party shares some of the fault. Insurance adjusters are not required to apply the rule, but many will bring it up during insurance settlement negotiations, so it's wise to be prepared.
In Nebraska, damages in medical malpractice cases are capped at $1.75 million for all damages. This number includes both "economic" damages like medical bills and lost wages and "non-economic" damages like pain and suffering. Keep in mind that this damage cap does not apply to all injury cases, just those that stem from medical malpractice.
In many states, dog owners are protected (to some degree) from injury liability the first time their dog injures someone if they had no reason to believe the dog was dangerous. This is often called a "one bite" rule. In Nebraska however, a specific statute (Neb. Rev. Stat. § 54-601) makes the owner "strictly liable", meaning regardless of the animal's past behavior, the dog owner is responsible for a personal injury caused by his/her dog. Specifically, the statute reads:
"the owner or owners of any dog or dogs shall be liable for any and all damages that may accrue to any person, other than a trespasser, by reason of having been bitten by any such dog" or "by reason of such dog or dogs killing, wounding, injuring, worrying, or chasing any person."
If your injury or accident involves the potential liability of the Nebraska government at the state level, you have two years to file a claim against the government. The claim must be filed with the State Claims Board. For more details on claims involving the government, see our section on Injury Claims Against the Government.
Nebraska Revised Statutes Chapter 25 contains Nebraska's civil procedure laws, which apply to a wide range of personal injury claims.