Legal Blog


Damages: What are you entitled to?

March 28th, 2014

If you are injured due to someone’s negligence – What damages are you entitled to?

According to the Nebraska Jury Instructions, the purpose of damages is to put the injured party in the same position, so far as money can do it, as he or she would have been had there been no injury or breach of duty, that is, to compensate for the injury actually sustained. The amount of damages is solely up to the fact finder (Jury or Judge).

In Nebraska there are two types of damages: Economic (Special damages) and Non-Economic (General damages).

Economic Damages

  • The reasonable value of medical care and supplies reasonably needed by and actually provided to the plaintiff (and reasonably certain to be needed and provided in the future);
  • The (wages, salary, profits, reasonable value of the working time, business) the plaintiff has lost because of (his, her) (inability, diminished ability) to work;
  • The reasonable value of the (earning capacity, business or employment opportunities) the plaintiff is reasonably certain to lose in the future;
  • Reasonable Funeral costs;
  • The reasonable value of the plaintiff’s loss of the use of (his, her) property;
  • The reasonable value of the cost of repair or replacement of personal property.
  • The reasonable cost of obtaining substitute domestic services.

Non-Economic Damages

  • The reasonable monetary value of the physical pain and mental suffering (and emotional distress) the plaintiff has experienced (and is reasonably certain to experience in the future);
  • The reasonable monetary value of the inconvenience the plaintiff has experienced (and is reasonably certain to experience in the future);
  • The reasonable monetary value of loss of society and companionship suffered by the plaintiff and reasonably certain to be suffered in the future;
  • The reasonable monetary value of any injury to plaintiff’s reputation;
  • The reasonable monetary value of any humiliation the plaintiff has experienced (and is reasonably certain to experience in the future);
  • The plaintiff’s (husband’s, wife’s) loss of consortium. Consortium means those things to which a person is entitled by reason of the marriage relationship. Includes affection, love, companionship, comfort, assistance, moral support, and the enjoyment of (sexual, conjugal) relations.


In the determination of economic and non-economic damages, the jury or judge must consider the nature and extent of the injury, including whether the injury is temporary or permanent, and whether any resulting disability is partial or total.

Material taken from “NJI2d Civ. 4.00; “General instruction on Damages in a Tort Action – Economic and Noneconomic Damages”.

Safety Tips for Driving in Snowy Conditions

February 18th, 2014

Snow DrivingDriving in snowy conditions can be extremely dangerous and drivers should always pay extra attention when faced with such road conditions. Sometimes it makes more sense to stay put during a snowstorm and wait until the snowplows have cleared the road; however, if it’s absolutely necessary to drive, here are some helpful tips that can help prevent an automobile accident.


To achieve proper traction in the snow, it’s important that you get snow tires mounted onto your vehicle. High-performance summer-tires offer little traction in the snow, making an accident much more likely. Even some all-season tires offer little grip in the snow. The proper tires will have a ‘snowflake on the mountain’ symbol on the tire’s sidewall, ensuring that they meet the industry standard for snow traction.


Make sure that your wiper blades are in good condition and wash your vehicle’s windows and mirrors thoroughly, inside and out. Fill the windshield washer system with a high quality anti-icing fluid, and apply Rain-X or other water-shedding product to the windshield.


Make sure that your headlights, blinkers, and brake lights are free and clear of any snow before driving. This will help other drivers to see you coming and improve your visibility.

Black Ice:

Always watch carefully for black ice, if the road appears slick, then it probably is. Remember areas where icy conditions are frequent such as bridges and overpasses.

Be Prepared:

A shortlist of items that you should keep in your vehicle during the winter months includes:

  • a small toolkit
  • first aid kit
  • jumper cables
  • flares
  • a charged cell phone with extra charger
  • shovel
  • winter clothing
  • blanket
  • plastic grocery bags
  • flashlight
  • extra batteries
  • candles and matches
  • emergency tire sealant
  • ice scraper
  • kitty litter or sand
  • wind up radio
  • drinking water
  • and dried food such as beef jerky and granola bars.

Regardless of your skill as a driver, some accidents can’t be avoided. It’s always best to be prepared for such emergencies.

Winter Home Maintenance and Safety Tips

January 30th, 2014

nM2x1sgIn order to protect the investment that you have in your home, it’s necessary to perform some annual and routine checkups before the winter months come into full swing. The following list will help keep your utility bills to a minimum and protect your investment. Cold-weather home safety and maintenance is important to keep up with.

Furnaces and Heating Systems:

Have a heating and air conditioning technician perform an inspection on your furnace. This inspection involves ensuring that the system is in good repair, is clean, contains new filters, doesn’t leak carbon monoxide, and is reaching its best manufacturer rated efficiency. Chimneys should also be cleaned.

Windows and Entrances:

Be sure to check the caulking and weather stripping around windows and doorframes. If the existing caulk is cracking or in poor condition, it will be necessary to reapply the caulking or weather stripping.


Near the end of fall, make sure to clean all of the debris from your gutters. Downspouts should deposit water runoff at a minimum of three to four feet from the home.

Exterior Faucets:

Disconnect garden hoses, drain your lawn sprinklers, and drain outdoor faucets. If your home isn’t equipped with frost proof faucets, then turn off the shutoff valve from inside your home. Water in pipes can freeze and burst from the expanding ice.

Lawn Equipment and Winter Essentials:

Be sure to drain the gas from your lawn mower and other gasoline powered machinery used in the summer months. Allow the equipment to run until all the gas is used and the carburetor is empty. Gasoline can decompose during winter months and cause difficulty when starting the equipment at the beginning of summer. Stock up on ice-melting products as well.


Be sure that you have enough insulation in the attic and duct work coming from the furnace. If ductwork is not properly insulated or well-connected, a heating unit can lose as much as 60 percent of heated air before it reaches the vents.


Be sure to check the vent behind your dryer. It should be clear of any lint or objects, reducing the event of a fire.

Fire Alarms:

Check the batteries in your smoke alarms and be sure that they are in proper working condition.


2013 Safe Ride Home Program Starts Today!

December 11th, 2013

Hauptman, O’Brien, Wolf & Lathrop is very proud to have sponsored the Holiday Safe Ride Home program since its inception in December 1990. The premise is simple: Persons who attend a holiday party and find themselves too intoxicated to drive safely can call Happy Cab for a ride home. The tab will be picked up by Hauptman, O’Brien, Wolf & Lathrop.

This past holiday season, Hauptman, O’Brien, Wolf & Lathrop provided cab rides home for roughly 3,200 community members, helping to ensure that our neighbors had a safe and happy holiday. Check out this article from the Omaha World Herald, which talks about this year’s program.

If you find yourself needing a safe ride this holiday season, call Happy Cab at 402-292-2222, between the hours of 8:00 p.m. and 3:00 a.m., December 11th through New Year’s Eve. And have a safe and happy holiday on Hauptman, O’Brien, Wolf & Lathrop.

Just as a reminder–cab rides can only originate and end within Douglas and Sarpy Counties (not Pottawattamie County/Council Bluffs, Iowa) and passengers will only be taken home, not another event location, after being picked up by Happy Cab from their holiday event.   Also, the caller must advise the call center at the time they request cab service that they would like the Hauptman, O’Brien Safe Ride Home in order for Happy Cab to bill the charge properly. 

Protecting Your Kids From Bullying

November 27th, 2013

protect your kids from bullying Bullying has become a serious and pervasive problem. Years ago, bullying was something that took place mainly on school grounds and generally only lasted throughout the school day; however, with the arrival of the Internet, many kids are being bullied online as well. This means that the bullying continues 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and seems to never go away. It can happen at any time of the day or night, even when the child is alone. Currently, bullies can follow kids to their homes through the Internet using social networking sites, email, cell phones, and more.

Now that children are heading back to school, it may be helpful to learn some important tips to protect your kids from the harmful effects of bullying. Understanding some of the warning signs that your child is being bullied can be extremely important, these include:

  • Decreased self esteem
  • Unexplainable injuries
  • Lost or damaged electronics, books, or clothing
  • Change in eating patterns
  • Feeling sick or faking illness
  • Declining grades
  • Not wanting to attend school
  • Nightmares
  • Avoiding social situations
  • Self destructive behavior
  • Use of alcohol or drugs

Addressing Bullying:

One of the most important things that a parent can do is keep the lines of communication open with their kids and speak to them about bullying. Kids need to be encouraged to speak to a trustworthy adult if they witness bullying or are being bullied themselves. Talking with your kids on a daily basis about their everyday lives can help them feel confident about coming to you with their problems. Following are a few additional tips regarding bullying.

  • Encourage kids to participate in the things they enjoy doing. Hobbies, sports, interests, and special activities can help kids form new friendships, boost their confidence, and help protect them from bullies.
  • Give your kids tips on how to respond to bullying such as saying stop with confidence, using humor, or walking away.
  • Become more involved with your kids school by reading newsletters, checking the school’s Internet site, attending school events, meeting teachers on parent night, and sharing phone numbers with other parents.
  • Talk about strategies to avoid bullying such as sticking with other groups of kids or adults.
  • Encourage your kids to help others being who are being bullied by showing kindness, helping them get away from the situation, and seeking help.
  • Set a good example of how to treat others.



Property Damage – What am I Owed?

November 7th, 2013

If you are in an accident and the at fault driver causes damage to your vehicle you are entitled to the


1. If your vehicle can be repaired

a. The reasonable cost of repairing your vehicle to substantially the same condition it was in before it was damaged.

b. You are also entitled to recover the value of the loss of use of your vehicle, that is, either the reasonable cost of a rental car for amount of time reasonably required to complete the repair, or the amount actually paid for such a rental, whichever is less, but not including any normal cost of operation.

2. If your vehicle cannot be repaired or can be repaired but at a cost in excess of the vehicle’s market value immediately before it was damaged and considered a total loss.

a. The fair market value of the vehicle before it was damaged.

b. The fair market value of the vehicle before it was damaged; minus its fair market value after it was damaged (salvage). (If you decide to keep your car.)

c. You are also entitled to recover the value of the loss of use of your vehicle, that is, either the reasonable cost of a rental car for amount of time reasonably required to complete the repair, or the amount actually paid for such a rental, whichever is less, but not including any normal cost of operation.

If you are faced with a property damage question please contact our firm at (402) 390-9000.

Water Safety – Stop Accidents Before They Happen

August 8th, 2013
We all know its coming – the HEAT. Hot summers are common in Nebraska, and water activities are a popular way to cool down and have fun at the same time. Remember these simple steps to keep you and yours safe this season.
  1. Watch - always supervise kids in and near water.
  2. Knowledge and Preparation - use proper fences and other barriers to protect kids from pools and always know what dangers are present at different types of water activities.
  3. Teach - help children learn water safety rules and techniques and proper swimming technique if they are old enough.
  4. Equipment - provide the right tools for the sport – including life jackets in open water activities.
For more information, download this helpful PDF checklist.

How Do I Obtain an Accident Report?

July 8th, 2013

If you have an accident within the city limits of the City of Omaha you may get a copy of the accident report the following ways:

1. Write to 505 S. 15th, Omaha, Nebraska 68102
2. Walk-in to Front-Desk at any police department location and request a copy.
3. Request online


4. Call (402) 444-5638

a. Central Police Headquarters – 15th & Howard (open 24 hours 7 days a week)
b. NE Front Desk – 30th & Taylor (open 9:00 am – 5:00 pm, M-F Closed holidays)
c. NW Front Desk – 103rd Just North of Fort (open 9:00 am – 5:00 pm, M-F Closed holidays)
d. SE Front Desk – 25th & Vinton (open 9:00 am – 5:00 pm, M-F Closed holidays)
e. SW Front Desk – 9864 “M” Street (open 9:00 am – 5:00 pm, M-F Closed Holidays)

They ask to wait at least 5 working days from the date the report was made to make a request.

The price is 5 dollars per accident report.

If you are faced with a police accident report question please contact our firm at (402) 390-9000.

Underinsured and Uninsured Coverage

April 9th, 2013

Did you know the minimum amount of insurance required in the State of Nebraska is $25,000 per individual and $50,000 per accident? For this reason it is very important to understand what Underinsured and Uninsured coverage on your auto policy means and how it can help you. You never know who will hit you and what their insurance coverage will be.

First, uninsured motor vehicle means a motor vehicle with no bodily injury liability insurance or bond applicable at the time of the accident.

Second, underinsured motor vehicle means a motor vehicle with not enough bodily injury liability insurance or bond applicable at the time of the accident.

Let’s look at some examples to put this into perspective.


Example 1

Driver 1 and Driver 2 are involved in a car collision. Driver 2 is at fault.  Driver 2 has no automobile insurance or ran off after hitting you.  Driver 1 incurs damages due to the collision. Driver 2 is therefore considered uninsured.  Driver 1 can make an uninsured claim, if they have uninsured coverage, against their own auto insurance policy to cover the damages.

Example 2

Driver 1 and Driver 2 are involved in a car collision. Driver 2 is at fault.  Driver 2 has the minimal auto insurance coverage in Nebraska which is 25/50/25 (Meaning $25,000 per person per accident, $50,000 per accident bodily injury, and $25,000 per accident property damage).  Driver 1 incurs damages totaling $75,000 due to the collision, which exceeds Driver 2’s coverage. Driver 2 is therefore considered underinsured.  Driver 1 can make an underinsured claim, if they have underinsured coverage, against their own auto insurance policy to cover the remaining damages.

In summary, as you can see from the examples above, it is very important to have Uninsured and Underinsured coverage on YOUR auto policy to protect yourself from others who do not have adequate insurance! If Driver 1 did not have Uninsured or Underinsured coverage he/she would not have been able to collect for the full amount of their damages.  Therefore, check your auto insurance policy and determine if you have Uninsured or Underinsured coverage and if it is sufficient.

New Study: Quality Lacking in For-Profit Nursing Homes

December 7th, 2011

Poor care at nursing homes can lead to serious injury and death.  Nursing home negligence is a serious problem in Nebraska.  Nursing homes are designed for elderly residents to have a safe, clean environment to live and rehabilitate their injures.

Nursing home care is expensive.  Nursing home’s receive thousands of dollars per month in payments from either the government, through Medicare, or the resident through the depletion of their life savings.  An average nursing home with 80 beds, charging a base price of $4,000.00 per month for each resident receives at least $320,000.00 a month or $3.84 million a year in compensation.

Nursing homes are a big business.  They should be comfortable, clean and safe.

Our Nebraska nursing homes provide some of the best care for our aging population in the entire United States.  Unfortunately, not all of our nursing homes are owned and operated by Nebraskans.

Many of our state’s nursing homes are owned by large, national, for-profit, corporations.  These corporations can be motivated to place their international corporate profits over quality care.  The results can be devastating.

A new study by the University of California at San Francisco proves what our Hauptman O’Brien lawyers already know, putting corporate profits over quality care results in injured residents and devastate families.  Please read a summary of this important study here.

If you believe you or a loved one has been the victim of corporate nursing home abuse or nursing home neglect, contact our firm to have your questions answered.