If you were in an accident that gave you a significant injury or took the life of a loved one, you have the right to file a lawsuit against the party that caused your accident in Nebraska. A lawsuit could give you the peace of mind, justice and closure you need to finally move forward. It could also provide your family with the financial ability to pay off your medical bills, property repairs and other damages related to the accident. If you have grounds for a lawsuit, however, you must act quickly to file your claim before the deadline. Otherwise, an expired statute of limitations could bar you from recovery.
What Are Statutes of Limitations?
Statutes of limitations are laws that place deadlines on when plaintiffs can file claims. All states have statutes of limitations for civil and criminal cases. The point of a statute of limitations is to keep the justice system as fair and efficient as possible for everyone. Without a law imposing a deadline to file, claimants could potentially take as long as they wanted to come forward with their claims. This could lead to problems such as lost evidence and unreliable eyewitness accounts due to so much time passing. The courts also deemed it unjust to hold the possibility of a lawsuit over a defendant’s head indefinitely. Statutes of limitations are the solution for encouraging prompt claims filing.
What Is the Time Limit in Nebraska?
Statutes of limitations are different depending on the state where you are filing the claim. Every claimant in Nebraska has a responsibility to know his or her deadline for filing. You can discover your exact deadline to file by talking to a personal injury lawyer in Omaha. In the meantime, learning the general statutes of limitations for different types of lawsuits in Nebraska could give you an idea of how long you can wait to file.
- Breach of written contract: 5 years
- Breach of oral contract: 4 years
- Personal injury: 4 years
- Product liability: 4 years
- Property damage: 4 years
- Fraud: 4 years
- Medical and legal malpractice: 2 years
- Wrongful death: 2 years
- Assault and battery: 1 year
- Slander or libel: 1 year
Nebraska’s statutes of limitations have some exceptions, although they are rare. In most cases, the countdown begins on the date of the incident. You might qualify for a deadline extension, however, if you did not discover your injuries or damages until a date after that of the accident. In these cases, the clock typically starts ticking on the date of injury discovery rather than the date of accrual of the damages. Other exceptions exist for injured minors, as well as for cases involving criminal activities. Contact a lawyer to learn your specific statute of limitations.
Why You Should File as Soon as Possible
The courts in Nebraska are not lenient with the state’s statutes of limitations. Generally, if you try to file a lawsuit after the expiration of your statute of limitations, the courts will refuse to hear your case. You will lose any eligibility you might have had to compensation from the defendant for missing your deadline. Even if the courts agree to pass your case onto the next stage, the defendant will most likely bring up the expired statute of limitations in a motion to dismiss your case. Protect your right to file a lawsuit by never waiting to take legal action.
Regardless of how long you have to file under the statute of limitations, initiate a lawsuit as quickly as you can after a personal injury or property damage. In general, a plaintiff will not benefit from waiting to file. In fact, waiting could hurt your chances of winning the case through the loss or destruction of key evidence. Your eyewitnesses might not remember exactly what they saw, for example, or a company might have erased its records. Prompt legal action can ensure you meet your deadline and enable you to bring a stronger case against the defendant.
When you rent an apartment, you take over certain responsibilities in terms of premises safety. Anything you add or modify in the apartment will become your responsibility. Your landlord or building owner, however, will retain many duties over the safety and livability of your apartment. If something goes wrong with the inherent structure of the building, heating, water, plumbing, common areas or grounds that causes an injury, your landlord could be liable.
Landlord Responsibilities in Nebraska
A landlord does not escape all property owner duties when he or she hands the keys of an apartment over to a tenant. As the legal building owner, the landlord still has certain responsibilities in terms of the safety and environment of the apartment and surrounding premises. In Nebraska, the Landlord Tenant Act outlines several duties of care all landlords owe their tenants for the duration of the landlord-tenant relationship.
- Ensuring the habitability of the apartment
- Fulfilling building code requirements
- Repairing problems with the building’s structure
- Preventing and controlling pests, insects and vermin
- Preventing exposure to hazardous substances such as mold and asbestos
- Providing clean running water and hot water
- Providing receptacles for trash and managing trash removal
- Repairing and maintaining heating appliances
- Keeping all electrical, plumbing and other systems in good working order
- Keeping the apartment building reasonably secure from criminals
In general, a landlord must inspect a property regularly, repair discovered problems or hazards, respond to tenant complaints within a reasonable time, and maintain a fit and habitable premises. If your apartment building’s landlord breaches any of these duties of care, he or she may be guilty of negligence. If this negligence gives you an injury, illness or property damage, you may be able to file a liability claim against your landlord in Nebraska.
When Is a Landlord Liable for Accidents?
After an injury or serious illness that occurs in your apartment, find out who may be liable with help from an attorney. A discussion with an Omaha premises liability lawyer can give you free advice as to whether or not you have a claim. A lawyer can listen to how your injury or illness happened, inform you of your rights as a tenant, and let you know if your landlord should be liable for your damages. In general, you will need four elements for a successful premises liability lawsuit in Nebraska.
- The person responsible for causing the injury (the defendant) owned, leased or lived on the property in question at the time of your accident.
- The defendant breached a duty of care owed to you as the property owner, leaser or landlord.
- The defendant’s breach of duty is why your accident happened. You would not have your injuries or damages were it not for the defendant’s negligence.
- You have damages. The defendant’s actions or omissions gave you specific and damages, such as lost wages or medical bills.
Your landlord will most likely carry insurance to cover disasters such as fires, floods and burglary. This insurance may also pay for the landlord’s liability over an apartment accident. If your landlord negligently caused or failed to prevent your injuries, file a claim with his or her insurance provider as soon as possible. Then, work with an attorney for assistance with settlement negotiations. If your landlord’s insurer refuses to handle your claim reasonably, a lawyer can help you bring a premises liability claim to court.
File a Claim Today
In Nebraska, you generally have four years to ask the county courts for a civil remedy for your premises-related personal injuries or property damages. Acting quickly can help you collect evidence against your landlord while it is still available. Contact an attorney as soon as you can after an accident in your apartment that results in serious injuries. Prompt action can help you protect your rights. A lawyer can explain your legal options as a tenant and help you bring a claim against a negligent landlord.
A property owner’s duties of care in Nebraska change according to the type of visitor. An invitee receives the highest standards of care, while a licensee receives slightly less. A trespasser, on the other hand, does not lawfully have the right to expect any duties of care from a landowner. If you own property in Nebraska where a trespasser suffered an injury, in most cases, the trespasser cannot hold you liable for damages. Important exceptions to the rule exist, however. To learn more about how to deal with an injured trespasser, contact our premises liability attorney in Omaha.
You Intentionally Injured the Trespasser
If you were unaware the trespasser was on your land without permission, the only duty of care you owe him or her is not to act in a willful, reckless or wanton manner to injure the trespasser. You do not have a duty to maintain a safe premises, but you do have a duty not to cause an intentional injury to a trespasser that does not appear to pose a threat. Acting in self-defense is a plausible justification for causing a trespasser an injury, and you likely would not be liable for damages in this situation.
Your duties of care change, however, when you become aware of the trespasser on your property. You must treat a discovered trespasser with ordinary care. This includes protecting the trespasser from a foreseeable hazard, such as a hole on your property or an aggressive dog. If you fail to warn the trespasser about the hazard and he or she suffers an injury as a result, you could potentially be liable for his or her damages, even if the trespasser did not have your permission to be on the property.
The Trespasser Is Under 18
Your duties of care are also different toward trespassers who are under the age of 18. Child trespassers deserve the same degree of care as invitees on your property in the eyes of the law. Your duties will include maintaining a safe premises, checking for hidden hazards, repairing known defects and warning of foreseeable risks. You must, therefore, take steps to reasonably prevent injuries to children who may trespass on your property – namely by putting barriers around attractive nuisances.
An attractive nuisance is a dangerous property element that is inherently attractive to children, such as a swimming pool, trampoline, old well, antique car, heavy machinery or farm animals. By putting an attractive nuisance on your property, you take on added responsibilities to keep trespassing children safe from potential related dangers. The law will expect you to take reasonable steps toward preventing foreseeable injuries, such as placing a fence around a swimming pool. If you fail to do so, you will most likely end up liable for a child’s injuries, even if that child was trespassing.
You Failed to Control Your Dangerous Dog
Cases involving known dangerous dogs are also unique. A dangerous dog according to Nebraska Revised Statute 54-617 is one with a record by an animal control authority stating that it has killed a person, inflicted a serious injury (one requiring medical treatment) on a person, killed a domestic animal or has previously achieved dangerous dog status by another animal control authority. Owners of dangerous dogs have greater duties of care to protect the public than typical pet owners. This includes keeping the dog on a leash in public places and not moving the dog out of the county.
If the trespasser on your property suffered a serious injury in a dog attack, and animal control has previously designated your dog as dangerous, you could be liable for the damages. You may have to pay for the trespasser’s medical bills and other losses if an investigation finds that you were negligent in the control of the dangerous dog under the state’s related laws. In most cases, you will be liable for any damages your pet causes if you knew of the dog’s dangerous propensities but failed to take proper precautionary measures.
Premises liability claims involving injured trespassers are complex. If you need help refuting liability for a trespasser’s injuries on your property, speak to an attorney in Omaha.