Is there a cap on medical malpractice damages in Nebraska?
Yes. Like a lot of states, Nebraska has a law on the books that limits the amount of compensation that a plaintiff can receive in a medical malpractice case, even after the plaintiff has been successful at trial and the jury has issued a finding that the defendant's medical negligence caused significant harm to the plaintiff.
Nebraska's damages cap is pretty unique among states. That's because most states place a cap only on one category of medical malpractice damages: non-economic damages, which includes compensation for things like pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, anxiety, emotional distress, and other subjective harm caused by the malpractice.
But in passing Nebraska Revised Statutes section 44-2825, the state legislature has placed a total cap on damages in medical malpractice cases. This includes the plaintiff's economic damages -- meaning payment for past and future medical care, lost income, and future lost earnings or harm to earning capacity -- as well as non-economic harm. The cap number that will apply in a given case varies depending on when the underlying malpractice allegedly took place.
For malpractice that allegedly occurred after December 31, 2014, the cap is $2.25M.
For malpractice that allegedly occurred after December 31, 2003, but on or before December 31, 2014, the cap is $1.75M.
For malpractice that allegedly occurred after December 31, 1992, and on or before December 31, 2003, the cap is $1.25M.
Another wrinkle in Nebraska's med mal damages cap is that health care providers who qualify under the state's Hospital-Medical Liability Act won't pay more than $500,000 in total damages, and any amount above that $500,000 is paid out from the state's Excess Liability Fund (up to the relevant cap number, of course).
by: David Goguen, J.D.