Saturday, November 10, 2007

Nebraska Supreme Court leaves jurisdictional and other questions unanswered in underinsured motorist case where the State was a defendant and worker compensation subrogee. Nebraska Supreme Court holds that § 44-6413 RRS Neb (barring uninsured/underinsured motorist claims when the statute of limitations on the underlying claim has expired) did not bar injured state employee's underinsured motorist action because the plaintiff settled her negligence claim against the primary tort-feasor within the four year statute of limitations period § 25-207 RRS Neb. Reimers-Hild v. State, S-06-203 274 Neb. 438 . The State of Nebraska and its underinsured motorist carrier raised the defense of 44-6413 that the Plaintiff sued after the statute of limitations had expired. Plaintiff was injured in an automobile accident while in the scope and course of her employment with the State of Nebraska. She received worker compensation from the State and also settled for the primary tort-feasor's liability insurer liability limits of $25000. The State had uninsured/underisnured coverage on the state vehicle the Plaintiff was in at the time of the accident but self-insured damages of up to $300000. The plaintiff did not file a tort or contract claim against the State. Instead the Plaintiff sued the State more than four years after the accident and later added its underinsured carrier . The Nebraska Supreme Court reverses, refusing to consider the defendants jurisdictional claims. "we hold that § 44-6413(1)(e) does not apply when an insured has settled his or her claim against an uninsured or underinsured motorist before the statute of limitations applicable to that claim would have expired. T he district court erred in concluding otherwise." The Surpeme Court noted several of the future questions it will no doubt play with: what will be the correct statute of limitations? Did the Plaintiff need to file either a tort, contract claim or both against the State before filing suit Did sovereign immunity or worker compensation immunity apply?

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