Nebraska Car Accident Laws – A Complete Guide

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Kimberly Dawn Neumann

Even though Nebraska has a relatively low traffic death rate, it’s still important to know Nebraska car accident laws. The state is enacting sweeping changes to its policies to reach its goal of zero traffic fatalities in Nebraska roads.

Many people don’t realize that the rules of the road vary by state. As such, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the specifics where you live. That way you’ll know what to do in case of a collision.

With that in mind, keep reading to get up to speed on Nebraska car accident laws. This guide will explain what to do, how to report, who determines fault, and how to get legal help.

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What to Do at the Scene of a Crash

The first thing to do in a car accident in Nebraska is stop your vehicle.

That’s not only because hit-and-run accidents in Nebraska are a potential felony if there are injuries. It’s also a law for Nebraska drivers.

Per Nebraska Revised Statute §60-696, all parties in an accident must do the following three things:

  1. Drivers have a ”duty to stop” at the scene of the crash.
  2. Drivers must give their name, address, phone number, and driver’s license number to the other involved drivers.
  3. Drivers must render reasonable assistance to any person injured in the accident.

You always want to check for injuries after a crash. If it looks like anyone is hurt, call 911. Remember that conditions like internal bleeding and whiplash may not appear until days or weeks after a car accident.

While waiting for help to arrive, take photos of vehicle damage, injuries, and your surroundings. You want a record of anything and everything that feels pertinent to the crash.

Also, ask for the following info from other involved parties if possible:

  • Insurance ID card/policy number
  • Car registration and license plate number
  • Car make, model, and color

Finally, don’t apologize at the scene, even if you think you were potentially responsible. You don’t want to endanger your ability to get a decent settlement — that includes money coming from your own insurance.

Car Accident Reporting Laws in Nebraska

Calling Nebraska police to come to the scene of a crash is only a requirement under certain circumstances.

According to Nebraska Vehicle Code §60-699, a driver in an accident must file a report within 10 days if:

  • There are any injuries or deaths resulting from the collision.
  • There is property damage that equals or exceeds $1500.

The report must go to the Nebraska Department of Transportation Highway Safety Office (HSO) and the Department of Motor Vehicles.

A driver may also submit their confidential report online, which is the Nebraska government’s preferred method.

Or, they may download and print the Driver’s Motor Vehicle Crash Report and then send it by mail to:

Highway Safety, Nebraska Department of Transportation

P.O. Box 94759

Lincoln, NE 68509-4759

Nebraska Vehicle Code §60-696 also requires that drivers who hit unattended vehicles or property notify law enforcement within 10 days. Failing to properly report an accident may lead to license suspension, or even criminal conviction.

If you’re in a minor fender bender, law enforcement is not mandatory. However, it’s still smart since a copy of a police report may serve as evidence later when determining fault.

Is Nebraska a No-Fault State?

Nebraska is actually an at-fault or classic tort liability state. Basically, that means the person who causes the accident is also responsible for paying the other victim’s damages.

To determine fault, the court and insurance company will typically look at evidence such as photos, videos, or eyewitness reports.

That’s why it’s so important to collect as much information as possible at the accident scene. Additionally, adjudicators will likely examine the police report so they have an objective viewpoint of the crash.

However, the outcome isn’t as simple as one person is guilty and the other is the victim. That’s because Nebraska follows a modified comparative negligence model for distributing liability after a car accident.

Comparative Negligence Laws in Nebraska

Modified comparative negligence means that to claim damages, you must be less than 50% at-fault for an accident. Anyone found more than 50% responsible for a collision will be ineligible for compensation. Some call this the “51% bar rule”.

Nebraska Revised Statute 25-21,185.09 fully describes the process on how Nebraska’s negligence laws work. Basically, to be eligible for damages in Nebraska, a driver must be less than 50% responsible for the accident. And whatever percentage of liability they caused is taken from their overall settlement.

To make this clear in layman’s terms, consider the following illustration. If one driver is 55% responsible for an accident with $10,000 in damages, they get nothing. That’s because they’re mostly at-fault.

However, if the other driver is 45% responsible with $10,000 in damages, they may still receive $4,500. Their percentage of responsibility minimizes what they may receive by their “fault” amount.

Keep in mind that your percentage of fault will likely come from a judge or jury. And frequently, insurance companies defer to these percentages in settling your claim.

As such, your goal should be to receive the smallest fault assignment possible so you can get a bigger settlement. It’s also why you’re going to want to have a knowledgeable car accident attorney on your side.

Nebraska Car Insurance Laws

Like most states, Nebraska requires drivers be able to show “proof of financial responsibility” in case they cause a crash. This mostly means car insurance, and driving without it is against the law in Nebraska.

Technically, you can satisfy the proof of financial responsibility requirement by registering a $75,000 bond with the state. But for most people, that’s not a realistic option.

Accordingly, if you want to drive in Nebraska, you’ll need to acquire a car insurance policy.

For most drivers in Nebraska, a certificate of insurance showing the following liability coverage minimums is the most accessible form of financial responsibility:

  • $25,000 for injury or death of one person in an accident
  • $50,000 for injury or death for all people in an accident
  • $25,000 for property damage per accident

This 25/50/25 liability insurance minimum will satisfy the DOT requirements for legal driving in Nebraska. Drivers must also carry policies that include Uninsured Motorist (UM) and Underinsured Motorist (UIM) coverage. This is due to Nebraska Revised Statute 44-6408, and the minimums for UM/UIM are:

  • $25,000 for injury or death of one person in an accident caused by an uninsured driver
  • $50,000 for injury or death for all people in an accident caused by an uninsured driver
  • There is no UM/UIM standard for property damage

Also, remember that these are just minimums and may not be enough to cover all expenses in a serious crash. And, they won’t cover your own medical and property damage. This is why many people choose to take out larger policies with varying add ons.

Additional Insurance Options

Nebraska’s liability coverage minimums only cover the other driver(s) in a collision. They don’t apply to your own injuries or vehicle damage. You’ll need separate coverage if you’re in a Nebraska car accident and the other person’s minimums aren’t enough.

Because of this, many people take out the following vehicle insurance policies for further protection:

  • Personal Injury Protection (PIP)/Medical Payment (MedPay). This type of insurance will help cover your medical bills or lost work wages from an accident.
  • Collision Coverage. This coverage can pay for repairs or replacement of your vehicle after a car accident.
  • Comprehensive insurance. This type of insurance covers vehicle damage caused by incidents other than vehicle collisions. Think fires, floods, or hitting an animal or inanimate object.

Some of these policy add-ons may help cover your expenses if you’re in an accident. However, remember that it’s possible no additional amount of insurance will help you if you’re more than 50% at-fault. That’s because most insurers will also include fault determinations in their claims adjustments.

What if You Hit Someone Without Insurance in Nebraska?

Driving without insurance in Nebraska is risky business. If you hit someone and receive a citation for “No Proof of Insurance”, your driver’s license will be immediately suspended.

If you’re the car’s owner, you’ll then have to file proof of financial responsibility and pay a $50 reinstatement fee.

But that’s nothing comparative to how much you might have to spend if you get stuck paying out-of-pocket damages. Car accident costs add up quickly, and if you’re liable for an accident in Nebraska without insurance, it could bankrupt you.

Types of Damages After a Car Accident in Nebraska

There are three ways you can recover damages after a car accident in Nebraska:

  1. By filing a claim on your own insurance policy to cover damages
  2. By filing a third-party claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier
  3. By filing a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver

When there’s extensive damage or injuries, a driver who thinks they’re less at-fault may decide to sue the other driver. This means filing a personal injury lawsuit that may possibly go before a judge and jury.

But remember, any payouts will require that the claimant be less than 50% at-fault. Otherwise, there will be no damage awards.

If the percentage of fault assignment goes in your favor, it’s possible to receive damages to make up for your losses. In Nebraska car accident law, these fall into the following general categories:

Economic Damages

Economic damages are quantifiable monetary losses a person experiences because of a car accident. In other words, these are damages where you can show the receipts.

Economic damages may include financial hits such as:

  • Medical treatment (immediate and ongoing)
  • Property damage (vehicular and otherwise)
  • Lost wages (time off work and missing employment opportunities)
  • Assistive devices (like wheelchairs or prosthetics)

Non-Economic Damages

These are the unquantifiable losses that often come along with the trauma of a crash. They can be harder to prove because they aren’t something you can add up with numbers. But they are just as damaging as physical injuries, if not more so.

Common examples of non-economic damages may include:

Limits on Damages

While Nebraska caps certain types of claims (e.g. medical malpractice), there’s generally no dollar-value limit for Nebraska car accident lawsuits. However, it’s never wise to ask for outlandish amounts without an attorney.

Nebraska Statute of Limitations

Every state has a time limit for filing a car accident claim in court, after which it’ll be void.

In Nebraska this statute of limitations is four years from the date of accident. For wrongful death cases, the filing date cuts to two years from the date of the victim’s passing.

In either situation, it’s best not to wait. Not only do recent cases tend to get higher settlements, but a missed deadline means losing the chance to file.

Tolling the Statute of Limitations

There are a few exceptions in Nebraska car accident law where a deadline extension may be necessary.

You may be able to “toll the statute” if any of the following occur:

  • The claimant is a minor. In this case, the clock starts when the minor turns 19. However, the parents should still try to file a claim for medical expenses within four years of the accident.
  • The defendant is out of state. If the defendant is evading the proceedings, a court may extend the statute deadline.
  • The discovery rule kicks in. If an injury doesn’t show up until later, then it’s possible a court may allow more time to file.

LegalASAP Can Connect You to a Network of Auto Accident Attorneys

Overall, most Nebraska car accident laws make sense. If you drive there’s an expectation you’ll be responsible, carry insurance, and not flee if there’s an accident.

However, like most things in life, there are always exceptions. One thing that is certain after a car accident, however, is that having a lawyer on your side will help.

The good news is that most car accident lawyers work on contingency. That means it won’t cost you anything until your case reaches settlement.

Let LegalASAP connect you with an auto accident lawyer in your area today. Because getting the compensation you deserve isn’t likely to happen by accident.

Kimberly Dawn Neumann

Kimberly Dawn Neumann is a multi-published NYC-based magazine and book writer whose work has appeared in a wide variety of publications ranging from Forbes toCosmopolitan. She graduated summa cum laude from the University of Maryland, College of Journalism. For more, visit:www.KDNeumann.com, Instagram @dancerscribe, and Twitter @KimberlyNeumann