What Nebraska laws could come into play if you make a slip and fall accident claim in the state? This article covers the time limits for filing a lawsuit in the state's courts, and explains what happens if you're found to be partly at fault for your accident. The last section touches on Nebraska's special procedural rules for slip and fall claims involving the liability of the government.
Each state has a time limit -- set by a law called a "statute of limitations" -- that requires those filing lawsuits to get the case started within a certain period of time after harm was suffered. In Nebraska, the time limit for filing a slip and fall lawsuit is four years. If you do not bring your case to court within four years of your accident, the court will probably throw it out when you do get around to filing it.
It's important to note that this time limit does not apply to claims you may file with an insurance company (such as the property owner's carrier). Nevertheless, it's helpful to file your insurance claim as quickly as possible after an accident. If you wait too long and the claims process drags out, your four-year window of opportunity for filing a lawsuit may close, which prevents you from going to court if settlement negotiations stall or fail. Besides that, getting the claims process started within a "reasonable time" may be required by the insurance company, who may try to deny your claim if they think you waited too long.
Nebraska uses a "modified comparative fault" rule to apportion damages when an injured person is found to share blame for the slip and fall accident. This rule may reduce or even eliminate damages if you're found to be partly at fault for your accident.
Here's an illlustration of how Nebraska's modified comparative fault rule works. Suppose you're walking through a grocery store parking lot one day, checking your grocery list. With your attention focused on the list, you don't see a large pothole directly in your path. You trip on the pothole and fall, suffering injury, and you decide to file a lawsuit in court or a claim with an insurance company.
The insurance adjuster investigates your claim or the jury examines the evidence in your case, and each comes up with a conclusion: your total losses from the accident equal $10,000. However, the adjuster or jury also decides that you were 20 percent at fault for the accident, and the store is 80 percent at fault.
What happens to your damages award? Under the "modified comparative fault" rule, you can collect $8,000 from the grocery store. This number represents the $10,000 total, minus $2,000 that represents your 20 percent of the fault.
As long as your percentage of the fault is 49 percent or lower, you will still be able to collect some damages from other at-fault parties. If you are found to be 50 percent or more at fault, however, your damages award drops to zero under Nebraska's shared fault rule, and you will be barred from collecting compensation from any other at-fault party.
Claims against state or local governments in Nebraska follow a special set of rules. If you trip on a broken staircase in a city building or fall in a state building's parking lot, your case may have to follow the special rules for claims involving the government.
Any slip and fall claim involving a state government employee or government agency in Nebraska must be filed within two years of the date of the accident. Claims must be written out on the state's Claim for Injury or Damage form and submitted to the Nebraska Department of Risk Management's State Claims Board. More information and instructions for filing a claim are available on the State Claims Board website.