This article looks at different Nebraska laws that could come into play in any car accident lawsuit or settlement. We'll discuss how long you have after an accident to file a lawsuit in court, and how Nebraska's "modified comparative fault" rule might affect any compensation you receive.
Nebraska's "statute of limitations" governs how long you have to file a lawsuit after a car accident. In Nebraska, the statute of limitations for both personal injury and property damage cases is four years, counting from the date of the accident. (Title 25, Section 207, 25-207)
This four-year window only applies to court cases. It does not affect how long you have to file a claim with your insurance company. Insurance claim deadlines should be explained in your policy, or you can contact your insurer or agent to find out how long you have.
Although four years sounds like plenty of time to file a lawsuit, it's wise to start by filing your insurance claim as quickly as possible. This helps you receive the compensation you need more quickly. It also means that if negotiations stall, you'll have plenty of time to leverage the option of going to court -- not to mention time to actually file your lawsuit -- if necessary.
Nebraska is one of many U.S. states that use a "modified" comparative negligence rule to sort out money damages when a court finds that more than one party is legally "at fault" for an accident.
Under a "modified" comparative negligence rule, you can recover damages in a car accident case if you are found to be less than 50 percent at fault for the accident. If you are found to be 50 percent or more at fault, you receive nothing.
If you are found to be partly at fault (less than 50 percent), you can recover damages. However, your damages will be reduced by the percentage of your fault. For instance, if the total damages in your case are $100,000 and you are found to be 20 percent at fault, you'll receive $80,000 (or $100,000 minus 20 percent.
Another way to think of this is that you will receive the total damages multiplied by the percentage of fault of the other party. If you're 20 percent at fault, and your case involves one other person who was 80 percent at fault, you'll receive $80,000 ($100,000 times 80 percent). But remember, if you're 50 percent or more at fault, you receive nothing, no matter how large the total damages award is determined to be.
Nebraska law prohibits drivers from driving in the state unless they meet the state's minimum insurance requirements. For more information on Nebraska car insurance laws, see our companion article, Car Insurance Laws in Nebraska.