According to the Traffic Crash Report published by the Nebraska Department of Transportation's (NDOT) Highway Safety Section, 29,418 crashes involving 46,394 drivers occurred in 2020. The crashes comprised 217 fatal collisions, 9,847 injury collisions, and 19,354 property damage only collisions (PDO). The total figure resulted in 233 deaths and 14,100 injured persons. One crash happened every 18 minutes, one person died every 38 hours, and an average of 39 people were injured daily.
The most common cause of crashes in 2020 was failure to yield, which resulted in 4,251 crashes with 19 fatalities and 1,886 injuries. Other circumstances include the following:
Inattention - 3,082 crashes with 9 deaths and 964 injuries.
Following too closely - 2,560 crashes with 1 death and 1,033 injuries.
Operating in an erratic manner - 2,058 crashes with 29 deaths and 917 injuries.
Leaving lane/running off the road - 1,769 crashes with 36 deaths and 651 injuries.
Disregarding traffic controls - 1,710 crashes with 12 deaths and 903 injuries.
Speeding too fast for conditions - 1,446 accidents with 11 deaths and 459 injuries.
The Nebraska Inter-Agency Safety Committee has been updating the Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP) since 2007. The SHSP outlines strategies to reduce serious injuries and fatalities. The SHSP’s critical emphasis areas for 2022-2026 include the following:
Increase seat belt usage.
Reduce roadway/lane departure crashes.
Reduce impaired driving crashes.
Reduce young driver crashes.
Reduce older driver crashes.
Reduce non-motorist crashes.
Reduce intersection crashes.
Several laws and policies are being strictly implemented across the state to achieve the government’s goal of achieving zero deaths. These will be discussed more throughout this article.
Nebraska Seat Belt Law
Nebraska seat belt law requires the driver, each front-seat occupant in the vehicle, and all children eight to 18 years of age to wear a seat belt properly. A violation of this rule may result in a $25 fine. A citation for not wearing a seat belt can only be issued if the driver is first charged with another violation. In 2020, 80.6% of motor vehicle drivers and passengers wore seat belts. Also, 74% of all people who died in cars were not wearing seat belts.
If you are injured in a car accident while not wearing a seatbelt, your compensatory award may be reduced by up to five percent. This is possible only if the defendant provides evidence that your failure to wear a seatbelt or improper use of a seat belt contributed to the injuries that you sustained during the accident.
Nebraska Basic and Absolute Speeding Laws
Nebraska has two types of speeding laws: the basic speeding law and the absolute speed limit law.
Basic Speeding Law
There are no specific speed limits stated in this law. It only means that drivers should drive at a safe speed, which is appropriate and reasonable given the circumstances, as well as current and future hazards, such as bad weather and poor road conditions. The law also requires drivers to reduce their speed appropriately when approaching crossings, curves, and hill crests.
If you are injured in a car accident due to a speeding driver, you should ensure your safety and the safety of your passengers. Seek medical attention and make sure that your car is in a safe spot. You should also call the police and tell them how you noticed that the other driver was speeding prior to the accident. Exchange contact information with the other driver without discussing the specifics of the accident. Do not admit fault or agree to a settlement quickly. Additionally, you should contact a car accident lawyer to help you with your claim.
Absolute Speed Limits
The maximum speed limits on Nebraska’s roadways are as follows:
20 miles per hour (mph) on business districts.
25 mph on residential districts and urban area construction zones.
35 mph on rural area construction zones.
50 mph on any highway that is not dustless-surfaced and not part of the state highway system.
55 mph on any dustless-surfaced highway not a part of the state highway system.
60 mph on most parts of the state highway system other than an expressway or a freeway.
65 mph on an expressway that is part of the state highway system and on a freeway that is part of the state highway system but not part of the interstate system.
70 mph on most highways that are part of the interstate system.
75 mph on rural interstate highways.
Penalties for speeding:
$10 for exceeding the speed limit by 1 to 5 mph.
$25 for exceeding the speed limit by over five but not more than 10 mph.
$75 for exceeding the speed limit by over ten but not more than 15 mph.
$125 for exceeding the speed limit by over 15 but not more than 20 mph.
$200 for exceeding the speed limit by over 20 but not more than 35 mph.
$300 for exceeding the speed limit by over 35 mph.
Fines are doubled when speeding in school or construction zones
Nebraska Distracted Driving Law
Nebraska's distracted driving law prohibits the use of a handheld wireless communication device to read, type, or send written communication while operating a motor vehicle. According to the DMV Drivers' Manual, it is also illegal to operate upon a public road a vehicle that has a television set with a viewing screen visible to the driver. In 2020, NDOT recorded a total of 711 crashes due to distracted driving that resulted in 4 deaths, 267 injuries, and 440 incidents of property damage.
Penalties for distracted driving:
First offense - $200 fine.
Second offense - $300 fine.
Third and subsequent offenses - $500 fine.
Exceptions to the distracted driving law:
Law enforcement officers, firefighters, ambulance drivers, or emergency medical technicians performing their duties.
People operating a motor vehicle during an emergency.
Commercial motor vehicle driver.
If you are injured in a car accident caused by a distracted driver, you need to stay calm, call 911, and seek emergency medical care if needed. You also need to get off the road if it is safe to do so. Tell the police officer if you noticed that the other driver was distracted. Take photos of the damage to your vehicle, your injuries, and the road conditions. Exchange information, such as auto insurance details, name, and contract number, with the other driver. It is also crucial to notify your insurance company, keep detailed notes, avoid posting on social media, and hire a car accident lawyer.
Nebraska Impaired Driving Law
Nebraska law prohibits any person from operating or controlling a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcoholic liquor. The NDOT recorded 582 impaired crashes and 5,425 alcohol-impaired driving arrests in 2020. Additionally, 34% of traffic fatalities from 2016 to 2020 were caused by alcohol and drug impairment.
Penalties for driving under the influence of substances (DUI):
First offense - seven to 60 days imprisonment, a $500 fine, and a six-month license suspension.
Second offense - 30 to 180 days imprisonment, a $500 fine, and an 18-month license suspension.
Third offense - three to 12 months imprisonment, a $1,000 fine, and a 15-year license revocation.
If you were hit by a drunk driver, do not leave the accident scene. You should call the police immediately and tell them about the signs of drunk driving that you noticed. You should also seek medical attention if necessary, take photos of the damages and your injuries, ask for the witnesses’ contact information, and file a police report (if not already done by the first responders). It is also important to contact a car accident lawyer to help you recover damages.
Nebraska Reckless and Careless Driving Law
Nebraska has two types of reckless driving offenses, namely standard and willful reckless driving.
Standard reckless driving involves a driver who has an indifferent disregard for the safety of persons or property. On the other hand, willful reckless driving involves a driver who shows intentional disregard for the safety of persons or property.
Penalties for reckless driving:
First offense (standard) - classified as a Class 3 misdemeanor punishable by up to three months in jail and/or $500 in fines.
First offense (willful) - classified as a Class 3 misdemeanor punishable by up to three months in jail and/or $500 in fines, as well as a 30-day to one-year license suspension.
Second offense - classified as a Class 2 misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and/or $1,000 in fines, 60-day to two-year license suspension, and 60-day to one-year vehicle impoundment (if the vehicle is registered to the reckless driver).
Third offense - classified as a Class 1 misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and/or $1,000 in fines, as well as a one-year license suspension.
Careless Driving Law
A careless driving offense is defined as driving carelessly or without exercising necessary caution in a way that endangers persons or property.
Penalties for careless driving:
Careless driving is categorized as a traffic infraction, and the penalties are as follows:
First offense - up to $100 in fines.
Second offense within a year - up to $200 in fines.
Third offense within a year - up to $300 in fines
If you are injured due to another driver’s recklessness or carelessness, you should consider hiring a car accident lawyer. Car accident lawyers can help you by negotiating with insurance companies to ensure that you get the maximum compensation for your pain and suffering, medical bills, and lost wages. They can also assist in gathering evidence, getting statements from the witnesses, and preparing your case if your claim goes to court. A jury or judge may also give you "punitive damages" to stop the defendant from being so careless again.
Nebraska Minimum Auto Insurance Requirements
Nebraska law requires drivers to carry proof of financial responsibility at all times. These include any of the following:
Certificate of Insurance
Motor vehicle owners must have liability insurance with minimum coverage of:
$25,000 - bodily injury or death of a person.
$50,000 - bodily injury or death of two or more persons.
$25,000 - property damage per accident.
They should also have uninsured motorist coverage with the following limits:
$25,000 - bodily injury, sickness, disease, or death of one person in any one accident.
$50,000 - bodily injury, sickness, disease, or death of two or more persons in any one accident.
Underinsured motorist coverage with the same limits listed above is also mandatory.
In some cases, these liability limits may not be enough to cover damages. Other insurance coverage options that the vehicle owners may avail of are as follows:
Collision insurance - for the owner’s vehicle repair and replacement.
Medical payments - medical costs related to accidents caused by the driver.
Comprehensive coverage - non-accident damages to the owner’s vehicle, such as vandalism, theft, or fire.
A bond issued by an authorized surety company in Nebraska may also be presented. It should cover up to $75,000 and must be filed with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Additionally, it can only be canceled if a 10-day written notice is given to the department.
A property bond authorized by at least two individual sureties who own real estate in Nebraska. The real estate should be included in the bond, which covers payments of up to $75,000 and is approved by a judge. It should be filed with the DMV and can only be canceled if a 10-day written notice is given to the department. This can be used to cover bodily injuries, death, property destruction, and loss of services.
Certificate of Deposit
A certificate of deposit is issued after depositing $75,000 in cash or securities into the custody of the state treasurer’s office. The certificate should bear the DMV seal to be valid.
Certificate of Self Insurance
A certificate of self-insurance from the DMV for those who have at least 26 registered vehicles. The insurance policy should cover property damage, bodily injury, and death. It should also bear the DMV seal.
Nebraska Is a Fault State for Insurance Claims
Nebraska follows a fault-based system for insurance claims. Any person who suffers injuries or property damage due to a car accident has three options to recover damages, which include:
File a claim with their own insurance company.
File a third-party claim directly with the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
File a car accident lawsuit against the at-fault driver.
Nebraska is a Modified Contributory Negligence State for Car Accident Lawsuits
Nebraska adheres to a modified contributory negligence rule, which stipulates that plaintiffs may seek damages in a car accident lawsuit even if they are partially at fault. The percentage of their fault will be deducted from their compensatory award. However, if they are found to be equally or more negligent than the other party, they will not be eligible for any compensation at all.
For example, if you suffer $50,000 in damages due to a car accident and the court decides that you are 10% at fault, the other party must pay you $45,000. But if the court determines that both you and the other driver are 50% to blame for the car accident, you will not be eligible for any compensation.
Nebraska Statute of Limitations for Car Accidents
The statute of limitations for car accident claims in Nebraska is four years from the date of the collision. For wrongful death cases, a family member or personal representative should file a lawsuit within two years of the victim’s death. The statute does not toll if the defendant is evading the legal process or is out of state.
Factors that affect the statute of limitations:
The discovery rule - the clock begins when the injury is discovered or should have been discovered.
Professional malpractice - two years or one year from the discovery.
The victim is a minor - the clock starts when the minor turns 19; however, the parents should file a claim for medical expenses within four years of the date of the accident.
Average Settlement for Nebraska Car Accident Lawsuits
Nebraska does not impose maximum limits on settlements for personal injury and property damage resulting from car accidents. A recent study by The Miley Legal Group showed that the average settlement for a neck and back injury in Nebraska is $802,325, while the median is $175,000. The largest amount was a $6.7 million award for a plaintiff with a spinal cord injury sustained in a distracted driving accident.
Legal Resources for Nebraska Car Accident Victims
Nebraska Driver’s Manual
The Nebraska Driver’s Manual educates new motor vehicle drivers about the rules and regulations of Nebraska’s roadways. It also aims to reduce vehicle crashes by educating drivers.
Department of Insurance
The official website of the Nebraska Department of Insurance allows citizens to search for insurance companies authorized by the government. They can also file a complaint against insurers through this website.
PO Box 95087
Lincoln, Nebraska 68509-5087
Phone: (402) 471-2201 Fax: (402) 471-4610
Insurance Complaint Hotline: 877-564-7323 (In-State Only)
TDD: (800) 833-7352
Nebraska State Patrol
The Nebraska State Patrol website can be used to file a complaint against a Nebraska State Patrol personnel.
Nebraska Department of Transportation
The Nebraska Department of Transportation web portal can be used to virtually report a car accident. It also provides instructions on how to obtain a crash report.
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