Personal injury lawsuits in Nebraska address a wide range of harms caused to individuals. These lawsuits recognize that injury and accident victims have rights, including the ability to seek compensation through legal action or insurance claims. A skilled personal injury lawyer can carefully guide a victim through the legal process, fighting hard on their behalf to obtain maximum compensation and justice.

Nebraska Personal Injury Lawsuits

At Liberty Law Group, our experienced personal injury trial lawyers are dedicated to pursuing justice on behalf of personal injury victims in Nebraska and Iowa. We have handled numerous personal injury cases, through filing the lawsuit, litigation, negotiation, settlement, and sometimes all the way through a jury trial. If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, contact our firm at (402) 865-0501 to request a free consultation. Our team is standing by and ready to discuss the facts of your case and determine the best path toward securing the highest possible compensation for the specific case. Our firm proudly serves the communities of Omaha, Lincoln, Papillion and throughout the surrounding areas of Eastern Nebraska, including Douglas County, Lancaster County, Sarpy County, Dodge County, Washington County, Saunders County, and Cass County. We also represent people in Iowa, including Council Bluffs in Pattawattamie County and the surrounding areas of Harrison County, Mills County and throughout Western Iowa.

Personal Injury Lawsuit Information Center

Below, Liberty Law Group discusses important information about personal injury lawsuits, such as the various types of cases, the victim’s legal options, the steps to a lawsuit, and the important role of a personal injury lawyer in these cases.

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Major Types of Personal Injury Lawsuits

  • Motor Vehicle AccidentsMotor vehicle accidents are among the most common types of personal injury lawsuits. These cases usually occur when a driver breaches their duty to operate a vehicle responsibly, leading to an accident that causes injury to another person. This category includes car, truck, motorcycle, bicycle, and pedestrian accidents. The injured party must prove that the other driver’s negligence directly caused their injuries to seek compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages.
  • Medical MalpracticeMedical malpractice lawsuits happen when a healthcare professional, like a doctor or nurse, fails to provide the standard of care expected in their profession, resulting in harm to a patient. These cases can involve misdiagnosis, surgical errors, improper treatment, pharmacy errors, and birth injuries. To win a medical malpractice lawsuit, the victim must show that the healthcare provider’s negligence led to their injury or worsened health condition.
  • Slip and Fall Accidents – Slip and fall accidents fall under the category of premises liability. Slip and falls are when a person is injured on someone else’s property due to hazardous conditions, like wet floors, uneven surfaces, or poor lighting. Property owners are responsible for maintaining safe conditions. If they fail to do so, and someone is injured as a result, the property owner can be held liable.
  • Product Liability – Product liability involves injuries caused by defective or dangerous products. Manufacturers, distributors, and retailers can be held responsible if their product is found to have a defect or if they failed to provide adequate warnings or instructions. Common examples include defective vehicles, dangerous pharmaceuticals, and faulty consumer goods.
  • Assault and Battery | Crime Victims – Assault and battery cases in personal injury law involve intentional acts that cause serious harm to another person. Unlike other personal injury cases, which are often based on negligence, these cases revolve around intentional misconduct. The victim can pursue compensation for physical and emotional injuries resulting from the assault, which is separate from any criminal charges the perpetrator might face.
  • Workplace Accidents – Workplace accidents cover injuries that occur in the work environment or during work-related activities. These can range from slips and falls to injuries from machinery or toxic exposure. Workers’ compensation laws often handle these cases, but in some instances, a personal injury lawsuit is appropriate, especially if the injury resulted from an employer’s gross negligence or a third party’s actions.

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Steps of a Personal Injury Lawsuit

  1. Consultation with an Attorney – In the beginning, the injured person, known as the plaintiff, meets with a lawyer to discuss their situation. This meeting is important for the lawyer to understand what happened, the injuries sustained, and to assess the evidence. The lawyer evaluates whether the case has a solid legal foundation and if it’s likely to succeed in court. This is a critical step where the plaintiff gets professional advice on how to proceed. If you have been injured in an accident or suffered damages due to the negligence of another party, consider reaching out to Liberty Law Group at (402) 865-0501 to request a free consultation to discuss the facts of your case and determine if a lawsuit or other action is necessary to secure compensation.
  2. Filing the Complaint – If the lawyer agrees to take the case, they prepare a legal document called a complaint. This document is particularly important as it formally starts the lawsuit. It explains who is being sued (the defendant), the reasons for the lawsuit, and the type of compensation the plaintiff is seeking. This complaint is then filed in a court that has the authority to hear the case.
  3. Service of Complaint – After the complaint is filed, it must be officially delivered to the defendant. This process, called service of process, ensures that the defendant is aware of the lawsuit and has the chance to respond. It’s a fundamental legal step to make sure the lawsuit proceeds fairly.
  4. Defendant’s Response – Once the defendant receives the complaint, they have 30 days to respond. In their response, the defendant typically either agrees with or denies the claims made by the plaintiff. They may also present their own version of the events and can even make counterclaims against the plaintiff.
  5. Discovery Process – During discovery, both sides exchange detailed information about the case. This stage is like a fact-finding mission where each side collects evidence, such as documents, emails, or medical records. They can also take depositions, where witnesses and parties involved give sworn testimonies. Discovery helps both sides understand how strong their case is and prepares them for trial.
  6. Pretrial Motions and Settlement Negotiations – Before the trial, there are often pretrial motions. These are requests to the court to make decisions on certain legal issues. For example, a party might ask the court to dismiss part of the case. At the same time, settlement talks might happen. Settlement is where the defendant offers a certain amount of money to the plaintiff to end the lawsuit. Many personal injury cases are settled here, without needing a trial.
  7. Trial – If the case doesn’t settle, it goes to trial. At trial, each side presents their arguments, evidence, and witnesses to either a judge or jury. It’s a formal process where both parties try to convince the judge or jury of their version of events.
  8. Verdict – After hearing all the evidence and arguments, the judge or jury makes a decision. If the plaintiff wins, they will receive a decision, called a verdict, which states the amount of money the defendant must pay. This is called damages.
  9. Appeal – If either the plaintiff or the defendant is not happy with the outcome, they can appeal to a higher court. An appeal is not a new trial but a request for a higher court to review the decision for legal errors. It’s a complex process and can take a long time.
  10. Collection of Damages – If the plaintiff is awarded damages, and there are no successful appeals, the final step is for the plaintiff to collect these damages from the defendant. This stage might involve legal processes, especially if the defendant doesn’t willingly pay.

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Negligence in Personal Injury Lawsuits

Negligence is a key concept in personal injury lawsuits, where the injured party seeks to prove that someone else’s carelessness or recklessness caused their injury. It’s based on the idea that everyone has a duty to act responsibly to avoid causing harm to others.

  • Duty of Care – The first step in proving negligence is to show that the defendant had a duty of care towards the injured party. This means that the defendant was expected to act with a certain level of caution and attention to avoid harming others. For example, drivers have a duty to follow traffic laws and drive safely to avoid accidents.
  • Breach of Duty – Once duty of care is established, the next step is to demonstrate that the defendant breached this duty. This involves showing that the defendant’s actions were not what a reasonably prudent person would have done under similar circumstances. For instance, if a driver was speeding or texting while driving, they breached their duty to drive safely.
  • Causation – Causation is about linking the breach of duty to the injury. This element requires proving that the defendant’s actions (or lack of action) directly caused the injury. Actual cause basically means the injury wouldn’t have occurred without the defendant’s actions. Proximate cause deals with foreseeability, meaning the defendant could have reasonably anticipated that their actions might lead to someone getting hurt.
  • Damages – The final element is proving damages, which means showing that the plaintiff suffered actual harm or losses due to the injury. This can include physical injuries, financial losses like medical bills and lost wages, and even emotional distress. The purpose of establishing damages is to quantify the impact of the injury on the plaintiff’s life, forming the basis for the compensation sought in the lawsuit.

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How Personal Injury Lawsuits are Settled in Nebraska

A settlement in a personal injury lawsuit refers to an agreement between the injured person (plaintiff) and the person or entity being sued (defendant) to resolve the case without going to trial. It’s essentially a negotiation where both sides agree on the amount of money that the defendant will pay to the plaintiff. Settlements are common in personal injury cases as they can provide a quicker and less expensive resolution than a full court trial.

  • Negotiation Process – The negotiation process is a critical aspect of reaching a settlement. This usually involves the plaintiff’s lawyer and the defendant or their insurer discussing the amount of compensation. These negotiations can happen at any stage of the lawsuit, sometimes even before a formal lawsuit is filed. The goal is to find a middle ground that both parties can agree on.
  • Factors Influencing Settlement Amounts – Several factors influence the amount of a settlement. These include the severity of the injury, the impact of the injury on the plaintiff’s life, medical expenses incurred, lost wages, and the strength of the evidence. In cases where the defendant’s negligence is clear and the injuries are severe, the settlement amount may be higher. Each case is unique, and the settlement reflects the specific circumstances of the injury and the case.
  • Advantages of Settlements – Settlements offer several advantages. They are typically faster than going to trial, which means the plaintiff can receive compensation sooner. Settlements also provide a guaranteed outcome and a degree of certainty that a trial does not. Trials can be unpredictable, but settlements allow both parties to have control over the result. Additionally, settlements are private and confidential, whereas trials are public.
  • Legal and Financial Considerations – In reaching a settlement, legal and financial considerations play an important role. The plaintiff’s lawyer ensures that the settlement covers all the damages, including future medical expenses and any long-term impacts of the injury. It’s also important to consider legal fees and how they are paid. In many personal injury cases, lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, meaning their payment comes as a percentage of the settlement amount.
  • Finalization of Settlement – Once a settlement amount is agreed upon, the process is formalized through a written agreement. This agreement states that the plaintiff will drop the lawsuit or not pursue it further in exchange for the agreed compensation. Once the settlement agreement is signed, it’s legally binding, and the plaintiff cannot ask for additional compensation for that particular injury in the future.

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Damages in Personal Injury Cases

In personal injury lawsuits, damages ensure that the injured person receives fair compensation. These damages are divided into various types, each addressing a specific aspect of the injury and its repercussions.

Economic Damages

Economic damages are all about the tangible, measurable financial losses due to the injury. They include:

  1. Medical Expenses: This goes beyond immediate medical costs. It includes emergency treatment, hospital stays, surgeries, medications, medical equipment, and any long-term care like physical therapy or follow-up surgeries. Future medical expenses also come into play, especially in cases of chronic injuries or permanent disabilities.
  2. Lost Wages and Earning Capacity: This type of compensation is for the income lost while recovering. If the injury leads to a diminished ability to earn in the future, compensation for lost earning capacity is also considered. This includes not just salary but also lost bonuses, benefits, and opportunities for career advancement.
  3. Property Damage: If personal property (like a car in an auto accident) is damaged or destroyed, the cost of repair or replacement is covered.
  4. Other Financial Losses: This might include the cost of hiring help for household chores, transportation costs to medical appointments, and any other out-of-pocket expenses directly related to the injury.

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages compensate for the intangible, personal impacts of an injury. They include:

  1. Pain and Suffering: This is highly subjective and varies greatly. It accounts for the physical pain and discomfort endured during and after the injury, as well as long-term chronic pain.
  2. Emotional Distress: This recognizes the psychological impact of an injury, such as anxiety, depression, insomnia, or even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The severity and duration of the emotional distress are considered.
  3. Loss of Enjoyment of Life: If the injury prevents the person from engaging in hobbies, sports, or other recreational activities they previously enjoyed, this damage compensates for that loss.
  4. Disfigurement and Physical Impairment: When injuries result in scars, disfigurement, or permanent physical limitations, this damage addresses the emotional and psychological impact of these changes.
  5. Loss of Consortium: Often claimed by the spouse or family of the injured person, this compensates for the loss of companionship, affection, and support due to the injury.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages serve a different purpose from compensatory damages:

  1. Punishment and Deterrence: These are awarded in cases of reckless or intentional harm. The aim is to punish the wrongdoer and deter similar conduct in the future.
  2. Severity and Conduct: The amount is often based on the severity of the defendant’s misconduct. It’s not related to the actual damages suffered but rather the egregiousness of the defendant’s actions.

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When the Injured Party is Partially at Fault

Contributory negligence refers to a situation where the person who got hurt (the plaintiff) is also partly to blame for the accident or injury. In other words, both the person suing and the person being sued (the defendant) share some of the fault.

  • How Does It Affect Compensation? – In Nebraska, according to Nebraska Revised Statute §25-21,185.09, if an individual is partly at fault for their injury, it doesn’t mean they can’t get any compensation. However, the amount of money they can receive will be less, based on how much the accident was their fault. For example, if they are found to be 30% responsible for the accident, the compensation they can get will be reduced by 30%.
  • When Does Contributory Negligence Bar Recovery? – There’s an important limit in Nebraska’s law. If an individual is just as much or more to blame for the accident than the other people they are suing, they can’t get any compensation. So, if they are 50% or more responsible, they won’t be able to recover any damages.
  • Jury Instructions – In a personal injury trial, the jury is given instructions about how to consider contributory negligence. They have to understand how to determine the percentage of fault for each party and how this affects the amount of compensation the plaintiff can receive.

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Where Personal Injury Lawsuits are Brought in Nebraska

In Nebraska, personal injury lawsuits are typically brought in the state’s civil court system. The specific court where a lawsuit is filed depends on various factors, including the severity of the injury, the amount of damages being sought, and the specific jurisdiction where the incident occurred.

For claims with smaller monetary values, typically those under $53,000, the case may be brought in the County Court. This court handles fewer complex cases and offers a faster resolution process compared to higher courts. However, for more substantial claims, involving greater damages and more complex legal issues, the District Court is the appropriate venue. Nebraska’s District Courts have the jurisdiction to hear all civil matters, including personal injury cases with larger claims.

In some instances, personal injury lawsuits in Nebraska might also involve federal law. When this occurs, or if the parties involved are from different states and the amount in dispute exceeds $75,000, the case may be brought to a Federal District Court. Nebraska has one federal district, the United States District Court for the District of Nebraska.

Additionally, Nebraska’s court system allows for alternative dispute resolution methods, such as mediation or arbitration, which can be used to settle personal injury disputes outside of the traditional courtroom setting. These methods are often faster and less formal, and they can provide a more amicable solution for all parties involved.

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Filing an Insurance Claim in Nebraska for Personal Injury Cases

When someone is injured and needs to file an insurance claim, there are specific steps to follow. This process is about notifying the insurance company and seeking compensation for the injuries sustained. Here’s a breakdown of how to navigate this process.

  • Contacting the Insurance Company – The first step is to inform the insurance company about the injury. This should be done as soon as possible after the incident. The person filing the claim (the plaintiff) will need to contact either their own insurance company or the insurance company of the person or entity responsible for the injury. This initial contact is usually done by phone or through an online claim form.
  • Providing Detailed Information – The insurance company will need detailed information about the incident and the injuries. This includes the date, time, and location of the incident, a description of what happened, and any details of the injuries sustained. Providing names and contact information of any witnesses and a police report (if applicable) is also important.
  • Medical Documentation – For a personal injury claim, medical documentation is key. The plaintiff should provide records of all medical treatments related to the injury, including hospital visits, doctor appointments, physical therapy, medications, and any other relevant medical care. These documents should detail the nature of the injuries and the treatments received.
  • Damage Assessment – The insurance company will assess the claim, which might involve a medical examination by a doctor of their choosing. They will review all the provided information and documentation to determine the extent of the injuries and the compensation that should be paid.
  • Settlement Offer and Negotiation – After assessing the claim, the insurance company will usually make a settlement offer. This is the amount they are willing to pay to cover the injury and related costs. If the plaintiff feels the offer is too low, they can negotiate with the insurance company. This might involve providing additional information or documentation to support the claim for a higher amount.
  • Accepting the Settlement – If the plaintiff agrees to the settlement offer, they will need to sign a release form, which means they agree to accept the settlement amount and will not pursue any further claims related to this injury against the insurance company or the policyholder. Once the release is signed and returned, the insurance company will process the payment.

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Differences Between Insurance Claims vs. Personal Injury Lawsuits

Filing an insurance claim is usually the first step taken after an injury. This is a private process between the injured person and the insurance company. It involves submitting a claim to either the individual’s own insurance company or the insurance provider of the person or entity responsible for the injury. The focus here is on getting a settlement from the insurance company to cover medical bills, lost wages, and other related expenses. It’s more about negotiation and reaching an agreement on a fair compensation amount. The process is generally quicker and less formal than a lawsuit, and it doesn’t involve going to court.

On the other hand, a personal injury lawsuit is a formal legal process. It involves filing a case in court against the person or entity responsible for the injury. This is usually the route taken if the insurance claim doesn’t provide satisfactory compensation, or if the responsible party doesn’t have insurance. Lawsuits are more complex and time-consuming, involving legal procedures like filing legal documents, presenting evidence, and possibly going to trial. The decision on compensation is made by a judge or jury, not the insurance company. This process can take much longer and can be more unpredictable than an insurance claim.

The key differences lie in the complexity, time, and involvement of third parties. Insurance claims are usually resolved more quickly, involve direct negotiation, and typically don’t require legal representation (though it can be beneficial). Lawsuits, however, take more time, involve the legal system, and almost always require a lawyer. Moreover, while insurance claims are more about reaching a mutually agreeable settlement, lawsuits have the potential for higher compensation, but also come with the risk of receiving nothing if the court rules against the plaintiff.

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Time Limits for Bringing Lawsuits in Nebraska

In Nebraska, the statutes of limitations establish the maximum time after an event within which a legal case may be filed. These laws have specific implications for personal injury, medical malpractice, and product liability cases.

Under Nebraska Revised Statute §25-207, individuals have a four-year window to file lawsuits in personal injury matters. This time frame covers various scenarios, such as trespassing on real property, issues concerning personal property, general torts, and fraud cases. In fraud-related matters, the four-year countdown begins from the moment the fraud is discovered.

Nebraska Revised Statute §25-208 sets a different timeline for medical malpractice suits. Plaintiffs must file these lawsuits within two years.

Also, under Nebraska Revised Statute §25-224, product liability actions generally must be commenced within four years of the injury or damage occurrence. There are specific rules based on the location of the product’s manufacture. For products made in Nebraska, the action must be brought within ten years of the product’s first sale or lease. If the product is manufactured outside Nebraska, the statute of repose of the manufacturing state or country applies, with a minimum of ten years. Asbestos-related actions must be filed within four years of the injury’s discovery and its link to asbestos exposure.

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The Role of a Personal Injury Lawyer

When someone gets hurt because of another person’s actions or negligence, a personal injury lawyer can be a great ally. These lawyers are like guides in the complex world of legal claims, helping people who have been injured.

Explaining the Law and Providing Advice

Personal injury law can be confusing. A personal injury lawyer helps by explaining everything in simple terms. They tell their client what laws apply to their case and what their rights are. They also offer advice on the best steps to take, like whether to settle out of court or go to trial. This advice is based on their knowledge and experience with similar cases.

Collecting Evidence and Building a Strong Case

To win a personal injury claim, an individual needs good evidence. The lawyer helps collect all the important stuff – medical records that show the injuries, reports from the accident, and statements from people who saw what happened. They put all this together to make a strong case that shows exactly how the injury happened and why the other person is responsible.

Talking to Insurance Companies

Dealing with insurance companies can be tough, especially when they want to settle for less money. Personal injury lawyers are skilled at talking to these companies. They handle all the negotiations, making sure their client isn’t pressured into accepting a low offer. They fight to get a fair deal that covers all the costs and losses from the injury.

Going to Court

If a fair agreement can’t be made outside of court, the lawyer is ready to take the case in front of a judge or jury. They know how to present a case in court, argue on their client’s behalf, and aim to get the best outcome. They handle all the complex legal issues, so the client doesn’t have to worry.

Helping with No Upfront Costs

Many people worry about the cost of hiring a lawyer. But personal injury lawyers often work on a "no win, no fee" basis. This means they only get paid if they win the case or get a settlement. This setup makes it easier for people to get legal help without dealing with upfront costs.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Personal Injury Lawsuits

What is a personal injury lawsuit?
A personal injury lawsuit is a legal action taken by someone who has been injured, either physically or emotionally, due to someone else’s negligence or intentional act. This lawsuit seeks to obtain compensation for the injuries and damages suffered by the injured person.

How long do you have to file a personal injury lawsuit?
The time limit to file a personal injury lawsuit, known as the statute of limitations, differs depending on what type of lawsuit is involved. Generally, it ranges from 1-4 years from the injury date, with most of the main types of personal injury cases needing to be brought within four years.

What kind of damages can you recover?
In a personal injury lawsuit, individuals can recover various types of damages, including medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and emotional distress. In some cases, if the defendant’s actions were particularly reckless or intentional, punitive damages might also be awarded.

Do you need a lawyer for a personal injury lawsuit?
While it’s not a legal requirement to have a lawyer for a personal injury lawsuit, it is highly recommended. Personal injury law can be complex, and a lawyer can help navigate the legal system, gather evidence, negotiate with insurance companies, and represent their clients’ interests in court.

How long does a personal injury lawsuit take?
The duration of a personal injury lawsuit varies widely depending on the complexity of the case, the willingness of parties to settle, and the court’s schedule. Some cases are settled within a few months, while others can take several years.

Can you settle a personal injury lawsuit out of court?
Yes, many personal injury lawsuits are settled out of court. Settlements can occur at any stage of the lawsuit process and involve the defendant or their insurance company agreeing to pay a certain amount of money in exchange for the plaintiff dropping the lawsuit.

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Additional Resources for Personal Injury Lawsuits in Nebraska

Nebraska Personal Injury Statute of Limitations – The Nebraska Legislature online statute describing how much time plaintiffs in personal injury cases have to file their lawsuits. The law also includes information of filing deadlines for cases involving fatalities.

Personal Injury Lawsuit Guide – Useful guide to what to generally expect when filing a personal injury lawsuit. Topics include types of personal injury claims, how to determine fault, damages, and how to file a lawsuit.

Nebraska Contributory Negligence – Online statute provided by the Nebraska Legislature on contributory negligence. The law explains how contributory negligence can affect the viability of a plaintiff’s injury case in Nebraska.

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Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney to File a Lawsuit in Nebraska | Liberty Law Group

At Liberty Law Group, our personal injury attorneys are experienced in filing and litigating personal injury lawsuits, oftentimes all the way through trial. If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident and believe a lawsuit might be the solution for getting the compensation you deserve, contact our office at (402) 865-0501 to request a free consultation to discuss your case with a qualified personal injury lawyer. Our firm proudly represents the communities of Omaha in Douglas County, Lincoln in Lancaster County, Papillion in Sarpy County, plus the surrounding Nebraska counties of Dodge, Washington, Saunders, and Cass. We also represent those in Iowa courts including the communities of Council Bluffs in Pattawattamie plus the surrounding counties of Harrison and Mills.

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