Nebraska Damage Caps in Personal Injury Cases
October 12, 2020 • Personal Injury
If you suffer an injury in an accident in Nebraska, you could be eligible to receive financial compensation from the party that caused your accident. Another word for financial compensation is damages. Many states, including Nebraska, place caps on damages to limit how much a plaintiff can receive during a claim. Whether a damage cap will apply to your case depends on the type of lawsuit you file, as well as the types of compensation awarded for your losses.
What Does Caps on Damages Mean?
A damage cap is a state law that places a limit on the amount of money an injured accident victim can recover from a negligent party during a personal injury lawsuit. Damage caps are controversial; many states have eliminated them on the grounds that they go against the state’s constitution and infringe upon a victim’s rights. In Nebraska, however, damage caps still exist. Damage caps typically serve to protect particular defendants – most often, hospitals and the government – from having to pay so much in civil lawsuits that the party goes bankrupt.
If you pursue compensation for a negligence-related injury in Nebraska, you may encounter the state’s damage cap. This will only be the case if you have a medical malpractice claim. The only cap on damages that exists in Nebraska applies to medical malpractice cases alone. The cap is currently $2.25 million for both economic and non-economic damages, under Nebraska Revised Statute 44-2825. This cap means that no plaintiff in Nebraska may receive more than $2.25 total for a medical malpractice lawsuit – even if the actual value of the plaintiff’s losses exceeds this cap.
Another restriction on damages that exists in Nebraska is the comparative negligence law. Statute 21,185.09 states that any plaintiff who contributes to his or her own accident or injuries will receive a percentage less in compensation that is equivalent to his or her degree of fault. The courts may award you less money in damages, therefore, if you were partially to blame for the accident and the defendant uses the comparative negligence defense.
Damage Caps for Pain and Suffering
Damage caps are most common on pain and suffering damages. However, Nebraska’s medical malpractice damage cap applies to both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages describe the financial burden of a doctor’s malpractice, such as the costs of additional treatments, surgeries and medications. It can also refer to a patient’s other losses, such as missed wages and legal expenses.
Noneconomic damages – often referred to as pain and suffering – refer to a patient’s intangible losses connected to the malpractice, such as emotional distress, mental anguish and physical pain. Both types of damages combined cannot exceed $2.25 million during a medical malpractice claim in Nebraska, according to the state’s cap.
Are There Exceptions to the Rule?
Nebraska’s medical malpractice damage cap does not have any exceptions. However, the dollar amount of the cap may differ if the malpractice that injured you took place before December 31, 2014. The statute has different damage caps, $1.25 million and $1.75 million, for older cases of medical malpractice. The statute of limitations (deadline to file) a medical malpractice claim in Nebraska is two years from the date of the malpractice or one year from the date of malpractice discovery. The statute of repose, or final deadline to file, is 10 years.
How an Attorney Can Help
Nebraska’s blanket restriction on both types of damages during a medical malpractice claim – economic and noneconomic – is extremely rare. Most other states with damage caps only use them for pain and suffering damages. If medical malpractice is what injured you in Nebraska, hire an Omaha personal injury attorney to help you navigate the state’s damage cap and other relevant laws. An attorney an ensure you recover the maximum amount possible for your injuries and losses.