Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations in Nebraska
March 11, 2021 • Wrongful Death
If you go through the tragedy of losing someone in an unexpected accident, you and your family are most likely suffering a great deal of stress and grief. The last thing you may wish to do is file a wrongful death claim. However, holding someone accountable by pursuing financial compensation for wrongful death comes with a deadline in Nebraska. This deadline is known as the statute of limitations.
What Is a Statute of Limitations?
Statute of limitations is legalese for a deadline. It is a law that places a time limit on a plaintiff’s right to bring a cause of action. Statutes of limitations are different from state to state. They also change according to the type of lawsuit filed. It is very important to know and abide by the statute of limitations that applies to your claim; otherwise, the courts will most likely refuse to take the case.
What Is the Statute of Limitations on Wrongful Death in Nebraska?
According to Nebraska Revised Statute 30-810, the statute of limitations on a wrongful death cause of action is two years after the death of the victim. This means a family has no more than two years from the deceased person’s date of death to file a wrongful death lawsuit with the civil courts. This statute of limitations is shorter than Nebraska’s standard personal injury claim deadline.
Nebraska Revised Statute 25-207 states that any action brought for personal injuries or property damage must be filed within four years. This typically means four years from the date of the accident, but may mean four years from the date of discovery, if applicable. If someone is injured by negligence, but not killed, he or she has four years to file a personal injury claim in Nebraska. After the death of a loved one, however, the filing party must come forward within two years.
Are There Any Exceptions?
There are very limited exceptions to Nebraska’s wrongful death statute of limitations. For the most part, missing your deadline means giving up the right to file. The same deadline applies regardless of what caused your loved one’s death, whether it was an auto accident, workplace accident or medical malpractice.
If there is an ongoing criminal case against the same defendant, such as for homicide or vehicular manslaughter, the courts in Nebraska may toll (pause) the statute of limitations until two years from the date of the conclusion of the criminal case. Also, if your family did not find out about the death until later, this may extend the deadline until the date of discovery.
It is also worthwhile to note that while some states enforce tighter deadlines if a family is bringing a lawsuit against the state or city government, under the Nebraska Tort Claims Act, families still have two years from the date of death to file these lawsuits.
What Happens If You Miss Your Statute of Limitations in Nebraska?
If you wait too long to come forward with a wrongful death claim in Nebraska, the courts can bar you from filing based on the missed statute of limitations. Even if the courts do allow you to file, the defendant’s attorney will bring up the expired statute of limitations as a defense to liability, after which the courts will most likely dismiss the case. This is why it is imperative to speak to an attorney before you are nearing the end of your two-year period.
A number of factors could affect your statute of limitations. It is always best to contact an attorney right away if you suspect a wrongful act, negligence or recklessness took the life of your loved one. Otherwise, you run the risk of missing your statute of limitations and losing the right to hold someone accountable. A lawyer can help you file the necessary paperwork by Nebraska’s deadline.