Nebraska Personal Injury Laws and Liability Rules

Nebraska's statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits, the state's comparative negligence rule, and more.

By , J.D.

After any kind of injury that may have been caused by someone else's wrongful conduct in Nebraska, it's important to have an understanding of the state laws that might affect any insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit you decide to bring. That includes the deadline for filing an injury lawsuit in Nebraska's courts, the state's "comparative negligence" rule, and a few more laws we'll cover in this article.

What's the Statute of Limitations for Nebraska Personal Injury Lawsuits?

A statute of limitations is a law that sets a limit on the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit in court. Different types of cases have different deadlines. Nebraska sets a time limit of four years for filing most personal injury cases, including those resulting from car accidents, slip and fall incidents, and other situations where someone else's negligence caused you injury. This law can be found at Nebraska Revised Statute 25-207.

Keep in mind that other injury-related lawsuits have their own dedicated statute of limitations in Nebraska, including those arising from medical malpractice.

What Happens If I Miss the Nebraska Statute of Limitations Deadline?

It's important to understand and follow Nebraska's statute of limitations for personal injury cases, because if you don't get your lawsuit filed before the four-year window closes, the state's civil court system will likely refuse to hear your case at all. That means you'll be left without any legal remedy, no matter how badly you were hurt or how clear it is that the person you want to sue was at fault for your injury.

Can the Statute of Limitations Deadline Be Extended In Nebraska?

A number of scenarios might delay the running of the statute of limitations "clock" in Nebraska, or pause the clock after it has started to run, effectively extending the lawsuit-filing deadline. Let's look at one of the most common of these situations.

If the Injured Person Was Under a "Legal Disability." When an injured person is considered to be under a "legal disability" under Nebraska law, they'll be entitled to the full four year lawsuit-filing period once the period of disability ends. A plaintiff under a "legal disability" in Nebraska can include someone who:

  • is under the age of 20
  • has a mental disorder, or
  • is imprisoned.

Nebraska Revised Statute 25-213.

Where Do I File a Personal Injury Lawsuit In Nebraska?

An attorney can handle the ins and outs of filing your personal injury lawsuit. But in general, most personal injury lawsuits are filed in District Court, the branch of Nebraska's court system that has jurisdiction over most civil lawsuits. There are 12 judicial districts in the state. The district for the county where the person you're suing lives is typically the right place to file your case. Learn more about how to file a personal injury lawsuit.

You might want to consider bringing your case to small claims court if your injuries are relatively minor and you're not planning on asking for more than $3,900 from the person you're suing. Get more details on filing a small claims case in Nebraska (from the Nebraska Judicial Branch).

What If You Share Fault for Your Injury In Nebraska?

Nebraska follows a "modified comparative negligence" rule. This means you can still recover compensation ("damages") in a car-accident-related lawsuit, but any award you receive after trial will be reduced according to your share of negligence. And if your share of fault "is equal to or greater than the total negligence of all persons against whom recovery is sought" (you're deemed equally or more at fault than everyone you're suing, in other words), you can't recover anything at all in court. This rule can be found at Nebraska Revised Statute 25-21,185.09.

How Does Nebraska's Comparative Negligence Rule Work?

Suppose you're rear-ended by another driver at a stoplight. One of your car's brake lights wasn't working at the time of the accident. At trial, it's determined that:

  • your total damages (medical bills and other accident-related losses) equal $20,000
  • you're 15 percent at fault for the accident, and
  • the other driver is 85 percent at fault.

Applying Nebraska's modified comparative negligence rule, you'll be awarded $17,000 in damages, or the $20,000 total minus the 15 percent of fault assigned to you.

Remember, as long as your share of fault is under 50 percent, you can collect compensation from the defendant (the person you're suing). But if your fault is 50 percent or more, you probably can't receive any compensation at all.

Are There Caps on Damages In Nebraska Personal Injury Cases?

Some states have laws that set a limit (or "cap") on the amount of compensation an injured person can receive even if their lawsuit is successful in court. These caps often apply to certain kinds of compensation (damages) in specific kinds of cases.

Nebraska has no generally applicable cap on damages in injury cases, but there are specific caps on certain kinds of cases. Let's look at the most notable example.

Nebraska's Cap on Medical Malpractice Damages

In Nebraska, damages in medical malpractice cases are capped at $2.25 million. This number includes both "economic" damages like medical bills and future lost income, 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. Learn more about Nebraska medical malpractice laws.

Dog Owners Face "Strict Liability" for Dog Bites In Nebraska

In Nebraska, a specific law (Nebraska Revised Statute 54-601) makes a dog owner "strictly liable" for most bites and other injuries caused by their animal. This means, regardless of the animal's past behavior or the owner's attempts to control the dog, the owner will be liable except in rare circumstances, such as when the injured person was trespassing. Learn more about a dog owner's liability for bites and other injuries.

Get More Information and Assistance After an Injury In Nebraska

This article offers an objective summary of state laws that could affect your Nebraska personal injury case. For information tailored to your situation, and a full understanding of your options, it might make sense to speak with an attorney. Get tips on finding the right injury attorney for you and your case.

If you're looking for more details on how personal injury claims work and what to expect from the process, check out these articles:

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