Medical Malpractice Law in Nebraska

Medical malpractice law in Nebraska stipulates a strict 2-year statute of limitations, and the state's courts have yet to address whether ostensible or apparent agency can be used to hold a hospital liable for the acts of its physicians.

Statutes of Limitations in Nebraska

Medical malpractice actions must commence within two years of the act or omission that provides the basis of the action, or within a year of discovery (or within a year of when the act or omission could reasonably have been expected to be discovered). In no case may an action be commenced more than 10 years after the act or omission. If the claimant is under the age of 21, the limitations period begins at 21; if the claimant is mentally disabled the limitations period does not begin until the disability is removed. Wrongful death actions must be brought within two years of the decedent's death.

Nebraska State Malpractice Laws at a Glance:

Nebraska State Tort Law
Statute of Limitations Two years from date of original injury or one year after injury was discovered.
Damage Award Limits $500,000 limit to health care provider liability, any excess to be paid out of the Excess Liability Fund. Total damages not to exceed $1, 750,000.
Joint Defendant Liability Proportionate liability for defendants where noneconomic damages are concerned. Joint liability in the case of economic damages.
Expert Witness No stipulations for witnesses
Attorney Fees No limits on attorneys fees, however court can intervene if thought unreasonable.

Contributory or Comparative Negligence in Nebraska

Nebraska observes a form of comparative negligence doctrine in which a claimant's negligence bars recovery only if it is equal to, or greater than, the total negligence of all defendants. Claimant's damages are reduced by the percentage which they are negligent, and slight negligence on the part of the claimant can reduce what the claimant may recover.

Joint and Several Liability in Nebraska

The liability of each defendant in a Nebraska medical malpractice action is joint and several, but liability for non-economic damages is several only and these damages are allocated by percentage of negligence. The exception is when the act or omission was part of plan to cause harm, in which case all damages are considered both joint and several. The right to contribution becomes enforceable in Nebraska when one tortfeasor discharges more than her or his proportionate share of the judgment.

Vicarious Liability is Nebulous in Nebraska

Nebraska courts have not yet addressed whether the theories of ostensible or apparent agency can be used to hold a hospital liable for acts of its independently-contracted physicians.

No Expert Testimony in Nebraska

Nebraska law doesn't stipulate expert testimony in medical malpractice cases.

Damage Caps in Nebraska

Nebraska generally imposes no limits on recoverable compensatory damages.

Arbitration in Nebraska

A medical review panel must review all malpractice claims against qualified health care providers before an action can be brought, unless the claimant affirmatively waives the review in writing.

The sole duty of the medical review panel is to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to support the conclusion that the defendants acted or failed to act in such a way that damages were proximately caused by medical malpractice. The panel's decision is non-binding; but its opinion is admissible in any subsequent proceedings.

If you have questions or concerns regarding medical malpractice in Nebraska, contact a local attorney who can help.

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