If you’ve been in a car accident that wasn’t your fault, it’s important to know that you have the right to pursue financial compensation for your medical bills, property damage, pain and suffering, and other damages you have endured as a result of the accident. The law is on the side of injury victims, regardless of what the other driver’s insurance company would have you believe.
However, the journey from understanding this right to receiving compensation can be difficult and complicated. There are many obstacles ahead, including the statute of limitations. This refers to the amount of time you have to file a claim after a car accident, after which you will not be able to pursue compensation.
The Statute of Limitations on Car Accident Cases in Nebraska
Statutes of limitations are very common laws that have existed for centuries. They differ from state to state, but the reason for their existence remains the same: to keep plaintiffs from delaying to file claims. Old, forgotten claims would be extremely difficult legal cases since evidence can be lost and much may have changed since the incident took place.
That said, the statute of limitations can be complicated for car accident victims. Furthermore, there is always the chance that a misunderstanding of these laws could diminish their chance of receiving the compensation they need and deserve.
The first thing Nebraska car accident victims should know is that, according to Nebraska Revised Statute 25-207, you have 4 years to file a lawsuit to recover compensation for the damages you have incurred. Again, once these 4 years have elapsed, the legal system will not allow you to pursue a lawsuit pertaining to your accident.
However, there are some exceptions to this law, such as when there is a death involved (2 years, as with other wrongful death claims) or if the injured party was a minor at the time of the accident (4 years from when the child turns 19).
Why You Shouldn’t Wait to Contact a Lawyer
While 4 years might sound like a long time, we strongly advise you not to wait to hire an attorney. It is in your best interest to begin the process of pursuing compensation as soon as possible.
While the state might give you 4 years to file a lawsuit, car insurance companies are not so patient. They generally require notification of the accident soon after the incident, which may begin the claims process.
Also, there are several things your attorney needs to do to prepare a strong case and give you the best chance of achieving maximum compensation. Let’s take a closer look:
Investigating the Accident
Preparing a case starts with a thorough investigation of the accident itself. Your attorney will seek to answer questions such as:
- Who was involved in the accident?
- Were there any witnesses?
- What physical evidence exists that could help prove the other driver’s negligence?
- Is there any evidence that they were driving distracted?
- Would an accident reconstruction expert be needed to show how the accident unfolded?
- And much more
Investigating a car accident takes time, and you don’t want to put your lawyer in a position of having to hurry to complete the investigation because you waited too long.
Also, even when there is enough time to perform an investigation, delay will make it harder to find and compile evidence and find reliable witnesses. The accident scene may be completely cleaned up, and witnesses – if you can even find them – may not have a clear memory about what took place.
Calculating the Full Extent of Your Damages
Knowing how much you should demand in compensation also takes time. While you likely have some immediate expenses that are easy to calculate – medical bills and property damage, as examples – what about the future costs related to your accident? What if your injuries require ongoing therapy, or you need the help of a therapist to deal with the psychological trauma of your accident?
In some cases, car accident injuries mean that you need to modify your home. Who should pay for those modifications? And what about the time you lost away from work? What if your ability to earn a living in the future has been affected by your injuries?
It’s imperative that you ask these questions and, with the help of an attorney, come to a full, realistic understanding of how much you should pursue. This will involve a deep look at the relevant laws, as well as precedent – that is, what have others in accidents similar to your own received in compensation? It could also involve the opinion of medical professionals who can accurately diagnose your injuries and provide an estimate for how much the injury will cost you long-term.
As you can see, there are many elements involved in building an effective car accident claim. It may be tempting to take the insurance company’s offer and move on, but you owe it to yourself to leave no stone unturned.
Filing Your Claim on Time
Once your lawyer has had a chance to fully investigate your accident and calculate your damages, he or she will then make sure all of the appropriate paperwork is filed on time. Generally, before you file a lawsuit, your attorney will negotiate with the insurance company to reach an appropriate settlement without having to go to court.
If the insurance company is unwilling to compensate you fairly for your damages, you and your attorney must be willing to escalate the claim to a lawsuit. This is the only way you can ensure that the insurance company will not take advantage of you.
Learn How Our Car Accident Lawyers Can Help
Car accidents are often terrible, traumatic experiences that can upend your life in a split second. While it should be encouraging that you may be able to recover compensation to cover your expenses, it is not practical for most accident victims to try to navigate the legal system and negotiate with insurance companies on their own.
That’s why we’re here. At Hauptman, O’Brien, Wolf & Lathrop, we have over 233 years of combined experience representing accident victims. We are honored to help you pursue the compensation you need and deserve to get back on your feet.
If you’ve been injured in a car accident in Nebraska or Iowa, don’t hesitate to contact Hauptman, O’Brien, Wolf & Lathrop at (402) 241-5020 today. Your initial consultation is free.