Wrongful death lawsuits in Nebraska are about seeking justice for lives lost due to others’ negligence. Victims don’t just include the individual who lost their life; they include the victim’s family, who suffer a devastating blow. Victims’ rights in these tragic circumstances include filing lawsuits or insurance claims for compensation. A skilled wrongful death lawyer is valuable in pursuing these cases, as they can work hard on behalf of victims to help get them maximum compensation and justice.

Omaha Wrongful Death Lawyer

At Liberty Law Group, our wrongful death attorneys are experienced and skilled in representing the families of victims who were killed as the result of an accident or due to negligence. Our attorneys provide comprehensive representation utilizing all necessary resources from beginning to end of a wrongful death case in Nebraska or Iowa. Our firm proudly serves the communities of Lincoln, Omaha, Papillion, and Council Bluffs. This includes the counties of Lancaster, Douglas, Sarpy, Washington, Dodge, Saunders, and Cass in Nebraska as well as Pattawattamie, Harrison, and Mills in Iowa. If you have lost a loved one due to a tragic accident or in some way caused by the negligence of another party, our attorneys are ready to help you recover justice and compensation for the damages. Contact our firm at (402) 865-0501 to request a free and confidential consultation to discuss your wrongful death case with one of our attorneys.

Nebraska Wrongful Death Information Center

Below, Liberty Law Group explains what individuals need to know about wrongful death lawsuits, such as the causes of these cases, legal options for families, compensation that can be obtained, and the major role of a wrongful death lawyer.

Back to top

Types of Wrongful Death Lawsuits

  • Medical Malpractice – Medical malpractice occurs when healthcare professionals, such as doctors or nurses, fail to provide standard care, resulting in death to a patient. In Nebraska, this can be a major cause of wrongful death lawsuits. Plaintiffs must prove that the medical professional’s negligence directly caused the death. Examples include misdiagnosis, surgical errors, or improper medication administration.
  • Motor Vehicle Accidents – Motor vehicle accidents are another leading cause of wrongful death lawsuits in Nebraska. Deadly accidents can involve cars, trucks, motorcycles, or pedestrians. Legal claims often arise when one party’s negligence, such as reckless driving or driving under the influence, leads to a fatal accident. Families of the deceased can seek compensation for their loss, often focusing on proving the other driver’s fault.
  • Product Liability – Product liability refers to cases where a defective or unsafe product causes death. In Nebraska, manufacturers, distributors, or retailers can be held responsible if it’s proven that their product was defective and that this defect directly led to the fatality. This can include anything from faulty machinery to unsafe pharmaceuticals.
  • Premises Liability – Premises liability involves deaths caused by unsafe conditions on someone’s property. In Nebraska, property owners are responsible for ensuring their premises are safe. This includes private homes, commercial properties, and public spaces. Fatalities resulting from slips and falls, inadequate security, or structural failures can lead to wrongful death lawsuits.
  • Workplace Accidents – Certain workplace accidents, particularly in industries like construction or manufacturing, can lead to wrongful death claims in Nebraska. When safety protocols are not followed or the working environment is unsafe, fatal accidents can occur. Employers can be held liable if their negligence or violation of safety regulations leads to a worker’s death.
  • Criminal Actions | Intentional Acts – While not as common in civil courts, wrongful death lawsuits in Nebraska can also arise from criminal actions. If someone is killed due to another’s criminal behavior, such as assault or homicide, the victim’s family might pursue a wrongful death claim. These civil proceedings are separate from any criminal proceedings and focuses on obtaining compensation for the family’s loss.

Back to top

Steps to a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

  1. Filing the Lawsuit – The first major step in a wrongful death lawsuit in Nebraska is filing the lawsuit itself. This is done by the representative of the deceased’s estate, typically a family member. The lawsuit is filed against the person or company believed to be responsible for the death. The legal document, known as a complaint, outlines the basis for the claim, including how the defendant’s actions or negligence led to the death.
  2. Discovery Phase – After the lawsuit is filed, the case enters the discovery phase. During discovery, both parties exchange information relevant to the case. This includes gathering evidence, taking depositions (interviews under oath), and collecting documents. The goal is to build a strong case by uncovering all important facts and evidence. This phase can be time-consuming but is crucial for understanding the details of the case.
  3. Settlement Negotiations – Many wrongful death cases in Nebraska are resolved through settlement negotiations before going to trial. In this step, the parties involved discuss a possible agreement to compensate the deceased’s family without the need for a court trial. Settlements can be quicker and less costly than trials, and they allow both sides to have more control over the outcome.
  4. Trial – If a settlement isn’t reached, the case goes to trial. During the trial, both sides present their evidence and arguments to a judge or jury. Witnesses may be called to testify, and legal arguments are made by the attorneys representing each side. The judge or jury then decides whether the defendant is legally responsible for the death and, if so, how much compensation should be awarded to the deceased’s family.
  5. Appeal – After the trial, either party may choose to appeal the court’s decision if they believe a legal error was made. An appeal is not a new trial but a request for a higher court to review the case to ensure the law was applied correctly. Appeals can be lengthy and may involve additional legal arguments and review of the trial’s proceedings.

Back to top

Nebraska Limitations for Bringing Wrongful Death Claims

In Nebraska, according to Nebraska Revised Statute §30-810, there is a strict time limitation for filing such a lawsuit; it must be commenced within two years following the death of the individual.

The responsibility for bringing a wrongful death lawsuit falls upon the personal representative of the deceased’s estate. This individual acts on behalf of the estate and is tasked with managing the lawsuit. The purpose of the lawsuit is to provide financial compensation to the deceased’s immediate family members, specifically the widow or widower and next of kin. The allocation of any damages awarded is another key element of this law. The compensation must reflect the financial loss endured by the deceased’s family members.

Back to top

How Negligence Works in Wrongful Death Cases

Definition of Negligence

Negligence in the context of wrongful death lawsuits refers to a failure to act with the level of care that someone of ordinary care would have exercised under the same circumstances. It involves actions or omissions that breach a duty of care and result in harm or death.

  1. Duty of Care – The first element of negligence is the ‘duty of care.’ This means that the person or entity accused of negligence had a legal obligation to act in a certain way toward the deceased. For example, drivers have a duty to follow traffic laws and operate their vehicles safely. In medical contexts, healthcare professionals have a duty to provide standard care to their patients.
  2. Breach of Duty – The second element is the ‘breach of duty.’ This occurs when the individual or entity fails to meet the standard of care that was expected of them. This means showing that the person did something wrong or failed to do something that should have been done. For instance, if a driver were speeding or a doctor failed to diagnose a treatable condition, that would be considered a breach of duty.
  3. Causation – The third element is ‘causation.’ This involves proving that the breach of duty directly caused the death. It’s not enough to show that someone acted negligently; it must also be shown that this negligence was the direct cause of the death. This can often be the most challenging part of a wrongful death lawsuit, as it requires linking the action or inaction directly to the outcome.
  4. Damages – The final element is ‘damages.’ This refers to the actual loss or harm resulting from the negligence. In wrongful death cases, damages can include a variety of losses, such as funeral and burial expenses and loss of companionship or support. Proving damages involves quantifying the impact of the death on the survivors in monetary terms.

Back to top

Survival Actions in Nebraska

In Nebraska, according to Nebraska Revised Statute §30-809, a certain type of wrongful death lawsuit, known as a survival action, can be brought when a person’s death, including that of an unborn child, results from the wrongful act, neglect, or default of another person, company, or corporation. The key condition is that the act, neglect, or default would have allowed the deceased to seek damages if they had survived.

However, the law also outlines specific exemptions where a wrongful death claim cannot be made for the death of an unborn child. These exceptions include the mother of the unborn child, a physician or licensed healthcare provider if the death resulted from a medical procedure performed with the necessary consent, and any person who lawfully administers a drug or device if the death was the intended outcome of such administration.

Back to top

Damages in Wrongful Death Claims or Survival Actions

In wrongful death lawsuits, the types of damages that can be recovered are generally categorized into economic and non-economic damages. These damages are meant to compensate the family or estate of the deceased for the losses they have suffered due to the death.

Economic Damages

Economic damages refer to the tangible, financial losses resulting from the death. This can include medical expenses prior to death, funeral and burial costs, and the loss of the deceased’s expected earnings. Loss of expected earnings is particularly significant, as it represents the income the deceased would have contributed to their family over the course of their lifetime. Additionally, economic damages may cover the loss of benefits, like health insurance or pension plans, that the deceased would have provided. Sometimes, the cost of household services the deceased would have performed, such as childcare or home maintenance, is also considered.

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages address the intangible losses that are harder to quantify in monetary terms. These include the pain and suffering experienced by the deceased before they died, as well as the emotional distress of the family members. A significant component of non-economic damages is the loss of companionship, affection, and emotional support that the deceased provided to their loved ones. In some cases, loss of consortium can be claimed by the surviving spouse, reflecting the loss of a marital relationship.

Punitive Damages

In some wrongful death cases, punitive damages might also be awarded. Unlike economic and non-economic damages, punitive damages are not meant to compensate the family for their loss. Instead, they are intended to punish the defendant for particularly reckless behavior and to deter similar conduct in the future.

It’s important to note that the funds received from a wrongful death lawsuit are protected from claims against the deceased’s estate. This provision ensures that the compensation awarded goes directly to the family members without being diminished by the deceased’s debts or other financial obligations.

Back to top

Effect on Damages When the Deceased Victim Was Partially at Fault

Under Nebraska Revised Statute §25-21,185.09, the concept of contributory negligence plays a significant role in determining damages in civil actions, including wrongful death lawsuits. This law addresses how the damages are adjusted if the victim (plaintiff) is found to be partially at fault for the incident that led to their injury or death.

Impact of Contributory Negligence on Damages

Contributory negligence refers to a situation where the victim themselves is partially responsible for the harm they suffered. In Nebraska, if the victim is found to have contributed to their own harm or death, the amount of damages awarded in a lawsuit can be affected. Specifically, the damages awarded are reduced in proportion to the degree of fault attributed to the victim. For example, if the victim is found to be 30% at fault for the incident that led to their death, the total damages awarded would be reduced by 30%.

Total Bar from Recovery

There’s an important threshold in this rule: if the victim’s contributory negligence is equal to or greater than the combined negligence of all the defendants, the plaintiff’s estate is completely barred from recovering any damages. This means that if the victim is found to be 50% or more responsible for the incident, their estate cannot receive any compensation from the other parties involved.

Back to top

Settlements in Wrongful Death Cases

Settlement in the context of wrongful death lawsuits is a process where the parties involved agree to resolve the case outside of court. This typically involves the defendant or their insurance company agreeing to pay a certain amount of money to the plaintiff, who is usually a family member or the estate of the deceased. The aim of a settlement is to compensate the plaintiff for their loss without going through a full trial.

Reasons for Settling

There are several reasons why parties might choose to settle a wrongful death lawsuit. Settlements can be quicker and less expensive than going to trial. They also offer more certainty because the outcome of a trial can be unpredictable. For the family of the deceased, a settlement can provide closure and financial support without the emotional strain of a trial. For the defendant, settling can avoid the public scrutiny that comes with a trial.

Negotiating a Settlement

The settlement process typically involves negotiation between the parties. This can be done directly or through attorneys. The negotiations will consider several factors, such as the strength of the evidence, the potential damages that could be awarded in a trial, and the specific circumstances of the case. Sometimes a mediator, an impartial third party, is used to help reach an agreement.

Terms of the Settlement

Once the parties agree on a settlement amount, they will typically enter into a written agreement. This agreement usually includes the payment amount and may specify how the funds will be distributed among the family members. It might also include other terms, such as confidentiality clauses. Once a settlement is agreed upon and signed, it is typically final, meaning the plaintiffs cannot pursue further legal action related to the death.

Court Approval

Before any settlement in a wrongful death claim can be finalized, it requires the approval of the court that appointed the personal representative. This step is crucial as it ensures that the settlement terms are fair and in the best interest of all beneficiaries.

Back to top

How a Wrongful Death Lawyer Can Help

A wrongful death lawyer can be a valuable asset for someone who has lost a loved one due to another’s negligence or wrongful act. These lawyers often handle cases where someone’s death was caused by another party, and they can offer several important services to help the bereaved family.

Legal Guidance

Firstly, a wrongful death lawyer provides legal guidance. They understand the complex laws and regulations surrounding wrongful death cases, including the deadlines for filing the lawsuit and the specific types of damages that can be claimed. Their knowledge helps ensure that the case is handled correctly and efficiently.

Investigating and Building the Case

A wrongful death lawyer investigates the circumstances of the death. They gather evidence, interview witnesses, and sometimes work with experts like accident reconstructionists or medical professionals. This approach helps build a strong case to prove negligence and establish the extent of damages.

Handling Negotiations

Negotiating with insurance companies and defendants is another area where a wrongful death lawyer is indispensable. These lawyers have experience dealing with insurance adjusters and opposing attorneys. They aim to reach a fair settlement that adequately compensates the family for their loss, handling the complexities of these discussions on behalf of the family.

Representing in Court

If a case goes to trial, a wrongful death lawyer represents the family in court. They present the evidence, argue the case, and work to persuade the jury of the defendant’s liability. Their advocacy skills are important, especially in complex cases where the details of the law and the specific circumstances of the death are not clear and obvious.

Emotional Support and Objectivity

While not their primary role, wrongful death lawyers often provide emotional support to grieving families. They handle the legal proceedings, allowing the family to focus on healing. Their objectivity is also vital in making decisions based on legal merits rather than emotions.

Navigating Financial Aspects

Wrongful death lawyers also help in accurately assessing and claiming financial damages. This includes current and future financial losses, like lost wages and medical expenses, and non-economic damages, like loss of companionship. They ensure that the family’s financial interests are well represented.

Back to top

How Wrongful Death Actions Differ from Personal Injury Lawsuits

Who Files the Lawsuit

The most significant difference is who files the lawsuit. In a personal injury lawsuit, the injured person themselves files the claim against the party responsible for their injuries. However, in a wrongful death action, the lawsuit is filed by the personal representative of the estate of someone who has died as a result of another’s negligence or wrongful act. These representatives are often close family members like spouses, children, or parents.

Types of Damages

The types of damages sought in each case are also different. In personal injury lawsuits, the damages are intended to compensate the injured person for their medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other losses related to the injury. In wrongful death actions, the damages are meant to compensate the family members for their losses, which include funeral and burial expenses, loss of the deceased person’s expected earnings, loss of companionship, and emotional distress.

The Basis of the Claim

The basis of the claim in each type of lawsuit is another difference. Personal injury lawsuits are based on injuries suffered by a living individual due to someone else’s negligence or intentional harm. Wrongful death actions, on the other hand, are based on the death of a person caused by someone else’s negligence or intentional act.

Back to top

How Wrongful Death Actions Differ from Criminal Cases

Purpose and Nature of the Cases

Unlike wrongful death cases, criminal cases are brought by the state or government. They aim to punish the defendant for their illegal actions and to protect society by deterring similar offenses. Criminal cases deal with the violation of criminal laws, such as homicide or manslaughter, rather than the financial compensation of the victim’s family.

Standard of Proof

The standard of proof is another major difference. In civil wrongful death cases, the plaintiff must prove their case by a “preponderance of the evidence,” meaning it’s more likely than not that the defendant’s negligence or wrongful act caused the death. This is a lower standard than in criminal cases, where the prosecution must prove the defendant’s guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt,” a much higher standard.


The outcomes of wrongful death actions and criminal cases are also distinct. In wrongful death actions, if the plaintiff is successful, the result is usually a financial award. In criminal cases, a guilty verdict can lead to penalties such as imprisonment, fines, or probation for the defendant.

It’s important to note that wrongful death actions and criminal cases can arise from the same incident. However, they are entirely separate legal proceedings. A person can be acquitted (found not guilty) in a criminal trial but still be found liable in a wrongful death lawsuit.

Back to top

Frequently Asked Questions about Wrongful Death

What is a wrongful death lawsuit?
A wrongful death lawsuit is a legal action brought when someone dies because of the negligence of another person or entity.

Who can file a wrongful death lawsuit?
Typically, the personal representative of the estate (e.g., immediate family members such as spouses, children, or parents of the deceased person) are able to bring a wrongful death case.

What types of damages can be recovered?
Between wrongful death lawsuits and survival actions, plaintiffs can recover economic damages like medical and funeral expenses, lost wages, and loss of future earnings. Non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, loss of companionship, and emotional distress, may also be recoverable.

How is a settlement reached in a wrongful death case?
A settlement is usually reached through negotiations between the parties involved. If they can agree on an amount, they avoid going to trial. Both sides consider the strength of the evidence and the potential damages that could be awarded in a trial.

Is a lawyer needed for a wrongful death lawsuit?
While it’s not legally required to have a lawyer, wrongful death cases can be complex and emotionally draining. It’s quite beneficial to have a lawyer who understands the legal process and has experience in pursuing these cases.

Back to top

Additional Resources

Nebraska Wrongful Death Laws – Online version of Nebraska’s law on wrongful death claims provided by the Nebraska Legislature. The law addresses the time limit to file a wrongful death claim and who is eligible to bring this type of claim.

Nebraska School Settles Wrongful Death Lawsuit – A $1 million settlement was reached to settle a wrongful death claim filed by the family of an eighth grader that passed away due to a medical emergency while at school.

Nebraska Widow Receives $3 million In Wrongful Death Lawsuit – Widow of a Nebraska Plumber who was killed in a building collapse filed a wrongful death claim in 2020. Her wrongful death claim was recently settled for $3 million.

Back to top

Hiring a Wrongful Death Lawyer in Nebraska | Liberty Law Group

The experienced wrongful death attorneys at Liberty Law Group are skilled at representing the family of those who were tragically killed as the result of an accident or due to negligence. Our attorneys provide full-service representation utilizing all necessary resources from beginning to end of a wrongful death case, including those that conclude through a jury trial in Nebraska or Iowa. Our firm proudly serves the communities of Lincoln in Lancaster County, Omaha in Douglas County, Papillion in Sarpy County and the surrounding Nebraska counties of Dodge, Washington, Saunders, Sarpy and across Eastern Nebraska. We also serve Iowans in the greater Council Bluffs area across Pattawattamie County and the surrounding counties of Harrison and Mills in Western Iowa. If you have lost a family member due to a tragic accident or in due to the negligence of another party, contact our firm at (402) 865-0501 to request a free and confidential consultation to discuss your wrongful death case with one of our attorneys. Our attorneys are ready to help you recover justice for your loss and compensation for the damages you and your family have suffered as a result of the wrongful death.

Back to top