Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Laws Staff Profile Picture
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Nebraska’s workforce has had its share of dealing with occupational accidents and poor working conditions. Consider these facts. In 2021, it had a higher rate of nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses than the national average, with 19,600 victims in the private sector, or three cases per 100 full-time workers. Moreover, the Tree Planters' State had 39 incidents of death in the workplace, with transportation accidents, faulty equipment, and slips and falls as the leading causes.

These statistics are concerning to employees, but most occupational accidents are actually preventable. Organizations like the National Safety Council have implemented workplace safety initiatives, such as occupational safety and health training. This way, members of the state's workforce will know how to take care of themselves better while at work.

If your own workplace has yet to address safety hazards, it is wise to preemptively study and do research on your legal options in case of an occupational injury or illness. With that in mind, this article aims to share everything you need to know about Nebraska's workers' compensation laws.

Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Insurance Requirements

It is worth noting that every employer in Nebraska with at least one employee must carry workers' compensation insurance. The policy covers full-time, part-time, seasonal, temporary, or minor workers. Meanwhile, the following are exempt from coverage:

  • Sole proprietors;

  • LLC members and partners;

  • Employees engaged in agricultural operations;

  • Railroad workers;

  • Independent contractors;

  • Federal employees;

  • Household domestic servants in a private residence.

How Businesses Can Obtain Workers' Compensation Insurance in Nebraska?

Businesses can purchase workers' compensation insurance from an agency authorized by the Department of Insurance. Nebraska employers may choose to self-insure their workers' compensation liability, but they must meet specific requirements. These include:

  • Being a corporation or political subdivision;

  • Having 100 employees within one year of starting operations in Nebraska;

  • Having been in business for at least five years under the current organizational structure;

  • Having a strong financial base;

  • Having a positive safety program.

Additionally, business owners who lease commercial motor vehicles to self-insured motor carriers with headquarters in the state can agree to provide workers' compensation coverage for the carriers’ drivers. This allows employers to comply with state workers' compensation requirements without buying a separate insurance policy. That said, such agreements must be in writing and approved by the Nebraska Workers' Compensation Court.

Penalties for Workers' Comp Non-compliance in Nebraska

If employers do not comply with the state's workers' compensation laws, they may be punished in any of the following ways:

  • Fined up to $1,000 for each day they are not insured;

  • Sentenced to jail for up to one year, fined $1,000, or both;

  • Ordered to stop doing business in the state until they complied, in addition to being fined $1,000;

  • Sued by employees who get injured on the job.

Nebraska employees can use the court's free Proof of Coverage Online Look-Up Application to check if their employer has active workers' comp insurance coverage.

Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Benefits

An occupational injury can significantly affect your finances, especially if it is unclear when you will be able to return to work. Fortunately, Nebraska law requires employers and their insurers to compensate injured workers with the following benefits:

Medical Benefits

If you become injured or ill at work, your employer’s insurance company will pay for all reasonable hospital and medical care, including prescribed medications, prosthetics, and other supplies for your treatment and recovery. Sometimes, it will also pay for your travel expenses to and from medical appointments.

As an injured worker, you have the right to choose your doctor. Your employer will inform you of this right, and if you opt not to exercise it, they will select a physician on your behalf. You may also choose a medical practitioner to perform your required surgical operation. 

For detailed information, you may access the Choosing a Doctor section of the WCC. Your employer may also require you to obtain health services under a managed care plan if they have properly notified you. 

If you refuse medical treatment, your compensation may be limited, reduced, or suspended. Additionally, it is your responsibility to ensure that all of your medical care expenses are submitted to your employer or their insurer on time.

Indemnity Benefits

If you cannot work because of a work-related injury or illness, your employer must pay you wage loss benefits. These payments will be made at the same time as your regular wages, starting on the eighth day of your disability. However, you will only be paid for the first week of your disability if it lasts at least six weeks. 

The table below outlines the disability benefits in Nebraska

Disability Benefits


Total Disability Benefits

Temporary Total Disability

These benefits, equivalent to two-thirds of your average weekly salary, are paid for as long as your doctor asserts your inability to work due to your injury or illness. 

Permanent Total Disability

Partial Disability Benefits

Temporary Partial Disability

This benefit is paid when you can return to work but with limitations, including working for a few hours a day or at a job that pays less than your pre-injury role. 

Temporary partial disability benefits are two-thirds of the difference between your pre-injury salary and your post-injury earnings. They are paid while you recover from your injury but for no more than 300 weeks.

Permanent Partial Loss of a Member

This benefit is paid for the loss or impairment of a body part, such as an arm or leg. It is equal to two-thirds of your average weekly salary, and its duration depends on which body part you lost or how much you cannot use it.

If you lose two body parts in the same accident, you are considered to be totally and permanently disabled and will receive maximum benefits. 

Permanent Partial to the Body as a Whole

This benefit pays you two-thirds of your weekly salary if you become permanently disabled from a workplace injury. 

The number of weeks you can receive this benefit is limited to 300, minus the period you have already received other disability benefits.

Death Benefits

If you pass away due to an injury at work, you can rest assured that your spouse will receive benefits for life or until they remarry. If they remarry, they will receive two years' worth of benefits in a lump sum. Note that death benefits are 66% of your average weekly wage at the time of the injury.

If you have children, the said rate increases to 75%, and your kids will be entitled to a percentage of your death benefits until they reach the age of 19. If they are full-time students in an accredited educational institution, they will receive benefits until they reach 25 or until they are no longer dependent. In addition to these benefits, your surviving family will receive up to $11,300 in burial expenses. 

Vocational Rehabilitation Benefits

If you cannot return to the job you had before you were injured or ill, you are eligible for vocational rehabilitation benefits. You can ask your employer for these directly, and if they do not offer them, the government can assign you a vocational rehabilitation counselor. You and your employer may agree on a counselor together. 

Then, as you are making progress in your counselor's vocational rehabilitation plan, your employer's insurance company will continue to give you temporary disability benefits. It will also be responsible for the fees associated with the plan’s evaluation, development, and implementation. 

Meanwhile, the Workers' Compensation Trust Fund will pay for the services or resources needed to help you achieve your vocational goals, such as job training, job placement assistance, and assistive technology.

Third-Party Claims

If a third party's negligence caused your work-related injury, you can file a third-party lawsuit to secure the compensation you deserve. Third-party entities are those other than your employer or colleagues. These include manufacturers of defective equipment, tools, or products, as well as individuals who have caused traffic accidents. 

However, if your injury resulted from the negligence of your employer and a third party, you may file for both workers' comp and third-party claims. Overall, it is ideal to consult a workers' comp attorney to determine the best legal action for your situation. 

How to File a Workers’ Compensation Claim in Nebraska

Both you and your employer must know your rights when it comes to workers' compensation. This will enable you to obtain the benefits you need to recover from your workplace injury or illness. 

When Is the Deadline for Workers’ Compensation Claims in Nebraska?

In Nebraska, you have two years to file a workers' compensation claim after your workplace accident or the last date you received wage loss or medical benefits. However, the time limit to file a claim can be paused (tolled) if your employer fails to file an injury report with the WCC within 10 days of you notifying them of your injury. Additionally, if you are under 19 when you are injured, the time limit to file a claim is paused until you turn 18.

A Step-By-Step Guide on Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim in Nebraska

1. Seek Medical Treatment.

If you get sick or injured because of unsafe working conditions, you must get medical attention right away. When you see a doctor, tell them it is a work-related injury so that they can file the required medical report with your employer or their insurance provider within 14 days. As already mentioned, in Nebraska, you can choose your own doctor, but you must certify that they treated you or an immediate family member before your injury.

2. Inform Your Employer of Your Injury.

Upon receiving an official diagnosis, you should notify your supervisor of your work-related injury or disease. This will allow you to start the claims process, enabling you to receive the benefits you need promptly. Remember that neglecting to report your injury or illness may reduce your chances of receiving maximum compensation.

It is also essential to find someone, probably a coworker, who saw the accident. If you do not know the witness well, ask for their contact information so that you can reach them later. You should also take pictures of the scene of the accident, including any possible causes, such as broken equipment or wet floors, and the injuries you sustained, like bruises or cuts.

3. File a First Report of Alleged Occupational Injury or Illness.

After you tell your employer about your work-related injury or illness, they must send an electronic copy of the First Report of Alleged Occupational Injury or Illness to the WCC within 10 days. This report should include important information about the employer, insurance provider, and employee. Moreover, it must describe how the injury happened and what treatment was needed.

4. Wait for the Approval of Your Workers' Comp Claim.

When you file a workers' compensation claim, your company’s insurance provider will investigate the circumstances of your injury or illness. They will review all available evidence, including your medical records, witness statements, and employer reports. They may also contact you or your doctor for additional information. 

Once the investigation is complete, the insurance provider will decide whether to approve or deny your claim. If your claim is approved, you will start receiving your benefits. These benefits, as discussed above, may include compensation for wage loss, hospitalization, and rehabilitation.

What Should One Do if Their Workers’ Compensation Claim in Nebraska Has Been Denied?

If your company's insurance carrier denies your workers' compensation claim, you can appeal the decision to the WCC. However, before doing so, you should know the reason behind the denial. Some of the common reasons include:

  • You did not notify your employer of your injury within a reasonable time;

  • Your own willful negligence caused your injury;

  • You are a contractor, not an actual employee;

  • Your workplace accident happened while you were not working;

  • Your work-related injury or illness is not serious, does not exist, or has already healed.

If the WCC upholds the carrier's decision, you can escalate your case to the Nebraska Court of Appeals within 30 days. Note that you can also file an appeal if the insurance provider suddenly decides to stop releasing your workers' comp benefits.

Legal Resources for Injured Workers in Nebraska

Legal Aid of Nebraska

Legal Aid of Nebraska hosts walk-in clinics for low-income residents who need civil legal help. These "Access to Justice" clinics provide free legal advice on a first-come, first-served basis. Here are the locations and hours of operation of some walk-in centers:

209 S. 19th Street
Suite 200
Omaha, NE 
Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

947 “O” Street
Suite 301
Lincoln, NE
Monday and Wednesday, from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Grand Island
1811 West 2nd Street
Suite 440
Grand Island, NE
Tuesdays from noon to 3:00 p.m.

1423 1st Avenue
Scottsbluff, NE
Tuesdays from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

The organization also offers self-help resources online that provide legal information to eligible individuals. These resources include forms, handbooks, and links relating to various legal matters, such as employment and workers' compensation.

Volunteer Lawyers Project

VLP is a statewide program that provides free or low-cost legal services to people in Nebraska who cannot afford to hire a lawyer. Its volunteer attorneys help low-income people with civil legal problems. They offer various services, including virtual and in-person clinics, direct case placements, courthouse self-help desks, and online platforms. Your income must be below the federal poverty line to be eligible for VLP's services.

Nebraska Find-a-Lawyer

The Nebraska State Bar Association operates this lawyer referral service. It caters to individuals unfamiliar with the legal community, helping them connect with practicing lawyers. The attorneys in the program charge $50 or less for the first 30 minutes of consultation.

To use the Find-a-Lawyer service, simply call (402) 476-8535 or visit its website. You may be asked to provide basic information about your legal needs, such as the type of case you have and your location. The NSBA will then refer you to an experienced attorney who can assist you.

Nebraska Department of Labor

The NDOL is a state government agency responsible for overseeing the employment sector. It has three main functions:

  • Administering compensation programs: The department administers unemployment insurance, workers' compensation, and other programs that provide financial assistance to workers who have lost their jobs or been injured while on the clock.

  • Conducting safety inspections: The department's workplace safety division regularly inspects businesses and their establishments to ensure they comply with state and federal safety regulations.

  • Assisting employees through programs on labor standards: The department's labor standards division provides employees with information on different topics, including minimum wage, overtime pay, and workplace discrimination.

You can contact the NDOL by dialing (402) 471-2200 or personally visiting 550 South 16th Street, Lincoln, NE 68508.

Nebraska Department of Insurance

The NDI has an Insurance Fraud Prevention Division, which oversees workers' compensation fraud. It also handles the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Insurance Plan, which provides workers' compensation and employers' liability coverage to businesses unable to secure policies through the regular market. For queries and clarifications, contact the NDI at (402) 471-2201 or 1526 K Street, Suite 200, Lincoln, NE 68508.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration

OSHA sets and enforces health and safety standards for workplaces in the US. Employees have the right to a safe workplace, and they can file a complaint if they believe that their employer is violating it. If you need more information, visit the OSHA website or call 1-800-321-OSHA (6742).

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