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How Does the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Court Work?

The Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Court is a limited jurisdiction non-jury trial court, created to administer and enforce the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Act. Workers’ compensation refers to the benefits provided to employees injured either by accident or through an occupational disease that was sustained due to, and during the employees’ employment, and was not caused by employee’s willful negligence.

The Workers’ Compensation Court holds original jurisdiction over all cases involving claims from workers’ compensation benefits resulting from occupational injuries or illnesses. Also, all industrial accidents that occur in Nebraska are required to be reported to this court. All employees in the state of Nebraska are covered by the state’s Workers’ Compensation Act, except the following:

  • Federal and railroad employees
  • Independent contractors and most volunteer workers
  • Household domestic servants and employees of agricultural operations that do not have workers’ compensation insurance provided for them by their employers
  • Self-employed individuals, sole proprietors, partners, and limited liability company members that are engaged in the business on a substantially full-time bases, but do not elect to be covered under the Act
  • Executive officers of Nebraska corporations that own at least 25 percent of the corporation’s common stock and do not elect to be covered by the Act
  • Executive officers of Nebraska nonprofit corporations that receive annual compensation of $1,000 or less, and do not elect to be covered by the Act

The Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Court consists of seven judges nominated by the Nebraska judicial nominating commission and appointed by the state governor. Parties that wish to be appointed as judges in this court must meet the following criteria:

  • Must be a citizen of the United States and residents of the state of Nebraska
  • Must be at least 30 years old
  • Must be licensed to practice law in the state of Nebraska, and must have practiced for at least five years (time served as a judge in different court can be included)
  • Must remain residents of the state throughout service

The judicial nominating commission consists of nine members, eight of whom have voting powers. The eight voting members are four lawyers elected by the state’s bar association and four non-lawyers appointed by the state governor. In contrast, the non-voting member is the Nebraska Supreme Court’s chief justice or an associate Justice of the same court. The justice also acts as the chairperson of the court. When there is a vacant position available on the Workers’ Compensation Court, the judicial nominating commission takes the following steps:

  • Announces the vacancy and issues a notice for a public hearing to be held within 60 days after the announcement
  • Accepts applications from interested parties, which must be submitted at least 21 days before the public hearing (during this time, the judicial nominating commission can also seek out and persuade unwilling individuals to submit applications if it feels that these individuals would be suitable for the position)
  • Publishes a list of approved applicants at least ten days before the scheduled public hearing
  • Allows the public’s opinions on the approved applicants during the public hearing (here, the applicants are allowed to speak for themselves or have other people do so on their behalf)
  • Conducts a private interview of the applicants, if it deems it necessary to do so
  • Holds a closed session meeting and votes on the applicants (all voting members of the judicial nominating commission must be present for this stage)
  • Forwards the names of the applicants that received at least five votes to the state governor

Once the State Governor receives the nominees’ names, an appointment should be made within 60 days. If the Governor fails to appoint a judge to fill the vacancy before the end of this time, then the appointment is made by the Supreme Court’s chief justice. After the meeting, the judge serves a term of three years before participating in a retention election. Retention elections are elections where eligible voters answer “yes” or “no” to the question of whether the judge should remain in office. If most of the electorate votes “yes,” then the judge remains in office and stands in a subsequent retention election every six years. However, if a vote of “no” is returned, then the judicial nominating commission begins the selection process. Note that the state of Nebraska does not have a mandatory retirement age for judges.

The Workers’ Compensation Court also has a presiding judge. This judge is elected by the members of the court, subject to the approval of the state’s Supreme Court, and serves for a term of two years.

The time frame before a decision is issued in the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Court depends on the parties involved. Parties that wish to file a lawsuit with the court are generally required to do so no later than two years after the accident in question occurred or no later than two years after the last date an employer or insurer made a medical or indemnity payment. After the Workers’ Compensation Court reaches a decision, parties that wish to appeal this decision must do so no later than 30 days after the decision is issued. Appeals from this court are directed to the Nebraska Court of Appeals.

Members of the public that wish to access court records from the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Court may do so through the court’s online records request page. Note that a fee may be charged for some of these requests. Alternatively, requests can be made by contacting the court through the following contact information:

Workers’ Compensation Court

1010 Lincoln Mall

Suite 100

P. O. Box 98908

Lincoln, NE 68509

Phone: (402) 471–6468

Phone: (800) 599–5155 (toll-free)

(All court filings must be made at this office)

Workers’ Compensation Court—Administrative Offices

1221 N Street

Suite 420

Lincoln, NE 68509

Workers’ Compensation Court

Hall of Justice

1701 Farnam Street

Omaha, NE 68183

Phone: (402) 471–6468

Phone: (800) 599–5155 (toll-free)

The Workers’ Compensation Court has statewide jurisdiction, and so it travels to various locations across the state to hear cases.

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