Nebraska Car Accident Laws
Nobody wants to get into a car accident, but they happen whether you’re ready or not. If you do get into an auto wreck, you will want to make sure you know your rights under the law. So what do you need to know about Nebraska car accident laws?
The most important Nebraska car accident laws to know are:
- You must report any accident that involves physical injury or more than $1000 damage with 10 days.
- You cannot leave the scene of an accident without stopping if there was physical or property damage.
- If you were injured or your property was damaged and the other driver was at fault, you are entitled to compensation.
- Nebraska is a comparative fault state.
- If you own a vehicle, you must carry a minimum amount of insurance.
What do these rules mean for you if you get into an accident? Read on and we’ll help explain.
What happens if I get in a car accident in Nebraska?
If you get into an auto accident, the first you should check on the safety of your passengers and the other driver of the vehicle. If someone has been hurt, call for medical help.
The next thing you should do is assess and make sure that your vehicle is in a safe spot. If it is not in a safe spot, move the vehicles to safety if possible.
You should call the police and begin to exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver. Do not discuss the specifics of the accident with the other driver. Be polite, kind and human.
Do I need to report a car accident to the police in Nebraska?
In Nebraska you are legally obligated to report a car accident to the police if anyone is physically injured or killed or if damages exceed $1,000.
We suggest that even in minor accidents without injuries, you should call the police to report an accident. By law you are required to report any accident with damages over $1000. These days its hard to imagine a car repair for much less than $1,000, so its best to just call the police.
Another reason to call the police is to preserve a record of the accident. Once the police arrive, they will mount an investigation to determine the cause of the accident. Some car crashes are cut and dry while others are more ambiguous.
If your accident is minor, don’t expect too in-depth of an investigation. In fact, many times officers will not determine who was at fault or to what degree. They may issue a citation that would be a good indication of their conclusion.
For example, a “Following too Close” ticket in a rear end collision is a good indication that that driver was at fault and was the cause of the accident.
Who decides if I am entitled to damages in an auto accident?
Nebraska car accident law is based on a concept called tort liability. This concept holds motorists financially accountable for any damage they cause. As mentioned earlier, Nebraska is a comparative fault state.
Comparative fault means that each driver can be partially at fault. The other driver could be 80% at fault or 100% at fault. As long as the other driver bears the majority of fault, you would be entitled to compensation for your physical or property damage.
Who decides the percentage? While the police will do an investigation, their findings are not the last word. The insurance companies may also make a determination of fault. This also is not the last word. While you can settle with an insurance company based on their determination of fault, the final say for fault would be through the court system.
If you were unable to get a fair settlement from the insurance company, you would need to file a lawsuit in court and ask a judge or jury to determine who was at fault and how much the damages should be.
The majority of cases do not make it this far. Cases can be settled prior to court involvement or at any time during the court case.
What’s the difference between the police investigation and the insurance company investigation?
Once police gather the on-site evidence, they will create an accident report and issue citations for any laws they think may have been violated. The insurance companies will launch their own investigation to verify the events that took place and determine if a settlement is necessary.
Depending on the accident, the results of the police and insurance investigation may be very similar. As a general rule, the police investigation is going to be more objective since the insurance companies have their own profit and interest at heart.
One important thing to know is that if you are in an car wreck, the other driver’s insurance investigator will likely be calling you quickly. Do not be intimated by this and know that you are within your rights to not discuss the case with the insurance adjuster. We suggest you contact a lawyer.
What if I am at fault?
The point of making insurance payments is to be protected in the event of a collision. Even the best drivers make mistakes. As long as you weren’t intoxicated or grossly negligent in your actions, your insurance will likely cover you.
Keep in mind that fault is not black and white. It may be determined that one driver is primarily responsible but the other contributed as well. Or perhaps it’s 50-50.
Maybe the other driver sped through a stop sign, but you were on the phone while driving. His or her transgression caused the accident, but you contributed to the collision by engaging in a distracting activity.
Depending on the situation, the insurance company or the courts will likely assign a percentage of fault to each driver. Let’s say the other party is 75% responsible and you are 25% responsible. The fraction will determine how much each company pays in damages. If there are $10,000 in damages, their insurance company would contribute $7,500 and yours would contribute $2,500.
The important thing is to honestly report the events and let the system assign blame. If you try to cover up facts to make yourself look less guilty, it will only make things more difficult.
Is vehicle insurance required in Nebraska?
Yes, licensed motorists are required to carry liability insurance on any vehicle they own. The minimum coverage required is $25,000 for bodily injury per person, $25,000 for property damage, and $50,000 for total bodily injury if multiple people are injured.
These are just the minimums and you are allowed to purchase any amount of coverage offered. If you own an expensive vehicle or have reason to believe you get into accidents more frequently, it makes sense to increase your coverage.
All drivers must have some form of insurance. If you cause an accident and don’t have the money to pay for damages, you can’t uphold your financial responsibilities according to tort liability. Not all states require vehicles to be insured, but they all require some form of personal liability if you drive.
How much will my car accident settlement be in Nebraska?
It depends on the circumstance. In general, there are two types of damages in car accident claims: property damage and physical damage.
Physical damage can include medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering. Property damage is the damage to your vehicle.
If your car is totaled, you should receive enough to pay for a new vehicle. If the damage is only cosmetic, you’ll likely receive a more modest amount. Insurance companies hire analysts and forensic investigators to determine the exact events that transpired and determine a settlement that accurately represents damages owed.
That’s why it’s important to establish the facts and report the accident as soon as possible. Although these insurance companies are often highly sophisticated and professional, they do make mistakes. Or they might interpret data in a way that benefits their case but doesn’t accurately represent the facts. They may not be lying. But at the end of the day, they are businesses that are looking to reduce their liability as much as possible.
It will be much harder to dispute a case if you don’t have the proper evidence. Car accidents are often tricky to recount with accuracy. They can happen suddenly without provocation and the trauma they cause can distort a person’s memory. If one of the drivers in a collision hits his or her head or their vision was somehow impaired, they may not be a great witness to what transpired.
He-said-she-said arguments are tough to prove in these scenarios. The sooner you contact authorities and establish a record of what transpired, the more likely you are to receive just compensation.
How much do I get for pain and suffering after a car accident?
As a general rule, you will see people suggest a rule of thumb of three times the medical bills. This is not a law or a requirement, but a popular rule of thumb people throw out there.
What that means is that if you had $5,000 in medical bills, you would be looking at $15,000 for pain and suffering.
As with any general rule, this not necessarily true. Pain and suffering can be a tough number to pin down. There are many factors to consider, including the long term effects of any injury.
Insurance companies use models to come up with an amount that they are willing to pay to settle the case. In most cases, they are going to offer you less than the 3x rule.
If that number isn’t enough, then you have a few options.
What if the insurance settlement offer isn’t enough?
Fortunately, you aren’t required to accept a settlement. If you believe the figure is too low and won’t cover your damages and expenses, you can choose to plead your case in court.
Before you do that, we would suggest you talk to a lawyer. An experienced lawyer will have a better idea of what a case is worth and may be able to get a better offer out of the insurance company.
A lawyer will also be able to file your case in court. Even for simple car crashes, the court side of things can be complicated, so we would suggest you consult with an attorney first.
You are entitled to be reimbursed for whatever repairs or medical bills you may have incurred as a result of the accident. If the settlement won’t adequately pay these damages and you have solid proof to indicate you were not at fault, it makes sense to fight.
How long do I have to file a lawsuit?
In Nebraska, you have four years to file a lawsuit. Although this sounds like a long time, it may take a year or two just to gather evidence and receive a settlement. The time limit is set once the accident occurs, so you may lose a few months or years just waiting for a settlement offer.
The sooner you act, the more likely the lawsuit will result in your favor. The more time that elapses between the court date and the accident, the harder it will be to validate your side of the story. Witnesses move away, documents get lost and many other things can go wrong through the passage of time that could affect the outcome of your case. You should take the time to gather your evidence and hire a lawyer. But it doesn’t make much sense to wait if you want just compensation.
Conclusion on Nebraska Car Accident Law
Ultimately, some parts of Nebraska car accident law are very straightforward. Every motorist is expected to be responsible for whatever damage they cause.
If you do get into an accident, make sure everyone is safe first, but also be sure to plan for your future claim. The best advice is that if you have questions or concerns, you should consult with an attorney. Many car accident lawyers will offer a free consultation and will let you know your options.
If you need a free consultation, you can reach out via the chat or text button here on the website, give us a call or send us an email.