Nebraska Auto Accident Laws & Resources
From Omaha to North Platte, there are countless miles of roads to explore and drive in Nebraska. You can drive the Cornhusker State from the Great Plains, to the banks of the Missouri River and into downtown Lincoln. Roads in Nebraska are used by the state’s 1.3 million drivers, with an average of 10,000 miles driven. Whether you have crash with a big rig in Kearney or a fender bender in Grand Island, you will want to know the rules of the road and insurance laws for Nebraska.
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Statistics and Notable Settlements
The Nebraska Department of Roads estimated that 192 people were killed in fatal auto accidents in 2016. The top cause of these accidents was failure to stay in the proper lane. Also, failure to yield right of way was a frequent killer in Nebraska in 2016.
One of the biggest problems for driving in Nebraska is distracted driving. It is estimated that distracted driving causes 10% of the traffic accidents in the state each year. Over the last three years, distracted driving has led to a 20% increase in accidents. Nebraska reported 4402 distracted driving crashes in 2015 and 12 of them resulted in fatalities. In the state in 2015, 160 of the crashes involved cell phones, and 43 of them were teen drivers. Over the last decade, drivers in the state from 15-19 have been involved in an average of 43 distracted driving crashes per year.
The City of Omaha is the largest city in Nebraska, and it has a relatively high number of crashes. In the last five years, there have been 11,000 crashes per year, and 1/3 of these were fatalities or serious injury crashes.
One of the most dangerous stretches of road in Nebraska is Highway 2 near the small town of Ansley. The country road runs parallel to train tracks but several multi car accidents have happened there in recent years. It is common for drivers to drift into the oncoming lane and have a head on crash. Rumble strips have been installed in the center of the road to keep people in their lane.
A major Nebraska car accident settlement was reached in March 2017 when state officials agreed to pay a $2.1 million wrongful death settlement for a fatal Stanton County crash that happened after removed a stop sign from a busy highway intersection. The settlement was reached between the office of the Attorney General and personal injury attorneys for those who were killed in the crash between a car and two tractor trailers at the intersection of Highway 15 and 32 near Pilger. The terrible car accident happened in May 2014 when a tractor trailer slammed into a Ford Escape, and that crash caused another crash with another big rig. Killed in the crash were a woman, her husband and the driver of the second truck.
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Nebraska Accident Settlement Taxes
Generally, personal injury settlements in Nebraska are not taxable at the state or federal level. It does not matter if you settled your legal case before or after the lawsuit was filed. The IRS notes that damages received as a result of a physical injury are not taxable as income at the state or federal level.
But as with most things regarding taxes, there are exceptions. First, if you took a medical expense deduction in a previous tax year for your medical costs, this will be taxed as income when you get your settlement.
Second, if you receive pain and suffering compensation for mental anguish only, this will be taxed as income. Your injury must be something physical for it to not be taxed.
If you get money for punitive damages, this will be taxed by the state and federal governments. The reason is that it is intended to only punish the defendant and is not intended for compensation for any injury that you suffered. Also, lost wages compensation is taxable as income.
It is important to talk to a tax advisor if you have any questions about your personal injury tax situation. These cases are complicated, and you do not want to make any tax mistakes.
Nebraska Negligence Laws
Nebraska is a modified comparative negligence state. This means that if you are injured in a car accident, the amount of compensation you can receive is based upon your percentage of fault for the accident. For example, if you are found 10% at fault for the accident, your potential compensation for your injuries and property damage would be reduced by 10%. Also, if you are found to be 50% at fault for the accident, you may be barred from making any financial recovery.
If you are in an accident in this state, it is very important that you collect as much evidence from the accident scene to establish fault. It is especially important to have a copy of the Nebraska police report if the police find the other driver is at fault.
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Car Insurance Requirements in Nebraska
As most states, Nebraska mandates you carry a minimum level of auto insurance. If you do not have the minimum amount, your driver’s license could be suspended, and you could be given jail time and/or fines. The minimum amount of auto insurance required in Nebraska is:
- $25,000 bodily injury per person per car accident
- $50,000 bodily injury for all parties in an accident
- $25,000 for property damage liability
- $25,000 and $50,000 uninsured and underinsured coverage
You are not required to have personal liability coverage or comprehensive or collision coverage – only personal liability. However, if you own expensive assets or an expensive vehicle, it is important to protect yourself, so you may wish to carry higher levels of coverage.
Other Driving Laws in Nebraska
There is a new texting ban for all drivers in Nebraska. There also is a ban on cell phone use for all novice drivers. The laws are written as secondary enforcement statutes, meaning that you only can be cited for texting and driving if you have been charged with another offense.
However, a violation of the texting law can net you a $200 fine, and $300 for a second offense. The good news is that national data suggests that drivers are responsive to texting and driving bans, with laws against the practice reducing the problem by up to 60%. Nebraska has spent extensive taxpayer resources to use social media such as Facebook and Twitter to encourage drivers to not text and drive.
Also, it is important to know that punitive damages are unconstitutional in Nebraska. If you are in a serious car accident and suffer serious injuries, it is illegal for a jury or judge to impose punitive damages designed to punish the negligent party for excessively reckless driving behavior. Punitive damages in some states may be imposed by a jury that wants to ‘send a message,’ such as in a DUI case where the guilty party was extremely intoxicated.
Car Accident Statute of Limitations in Nebraska
According to Nebraska Revised Statute 25-207, the statute of limitations for a personal injury lawsuit due to a car accident is four years. However, if someone dies in the car accident, Nebraska Revised Statute 30-810 states you have two years form the death of the person to file a claim.
Nebraska Car Accident Resources
If you are in a car accident in this state, it is important to have resources available so that you know what to do. Below are some helpful resources if you are in a Nebraska car accident:
- Nebraska Department of Insurance
- Nebraska Department of Motor Vehicles
- Curious what your car accident claim is worth? Use our handy tool at the Lawsuit Info Center.
- If you are in an accident that has more than $1000 in damages, or someone is injured or killed, you must file a Driver’s Motor Vehicle Accident Report within 10 days of the accident. This is not necessary if the accident was investigated by law enforcement.
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