Recovery under act; limitation; additional sources for recovery.
The total amount recoverable under the Political Subdivisions Tort Claims Act for claims arising out of an occurrence after November 16, 1985, shall be limited to:
(1) One million dollars for any person for any number of claims arising out of a single occurrence; and
(2) Five million dollars for all claims arising out of a single occurrence.
If the damages sustained by an innocent third party pursuant to section 13-911 are not fully recoverable from one or more political subdivisions due to the limitations in this section, additional sources for recovery shall be as follows: First, any offsetting payments specified in subsection (3) of section 13-911 shall be reduced to the extent necessary to fully compensate the innocent third party; and second, if such reduction is insufficient to fully compensate the innocent third party, the right of reimbursement granted to the political subdivision in subsection (2) of section 13-911 shall be reduced to the extent necessary to fully compensate the innocent third party.
Source:Laws 1985, Second Spec. Sess., LB 14, § 2; R.S.Supp.,1986, § 23-2419.01; Laws 1996, LB 952, § 2.
When the damages suffered by an “innocent third party” are not fully recoverable because of the damages cap in this section, a political subdivision’s right to reimbursement must be reduced “to the extent necessary to fully compensate” the party. Werner v. County of Platte, 284 Neb. 899, 824 N.W.2d 38 (2012).
Parents of an injured minor have one damage cap, and the minor has a separate damage cap. Connelly v. City of Omaha, 284 Neb. 131, 816 N.W.2d 742 (2012).
The damage cap applies to each person having a claim arising from a single occurrence. Connelly v. City of Omaha, 284 Neb. 131, 816 N.W.2d 742 (2012).
The Legislature had a rational basis for enacting the damage cap in this section, and the cap does not violate an injured party’s right to substantive due process. Connelly v. City of Omaha, 284 Neb. 131, 816 N.W.2d 742 (2012).
The damage cap embodied in this section applies to all political subdivisions of the State of Nebraska, which together create a single class of tort-feasors to which the Legislature has chosen to apply uniform rules and procedures governing tort liability. By limiting the tort liability exposure of all political subdivisions in exactly the same manner, the Legislature has enacted a general law which does not contravene the constitutional prohibition of special legislation. Staley v. City of Omaha, 271 Neb. 543, 713 N.W.2d 457 (2006).
The fact that an insurer provided liability insurance coverage for that portion of a county's potential liability for a single occurrence which exceeded its legal liability to a single claimant cannot be viewed as creating any rights on the part of injured persons to recover more from the insurer than its insured was legally obligated to pay. Molina v. American Alternative Ins. Corp., 270 Neb. 218, 699 N.W.2d 415 (2005).
When a county's "legal obligation" to an injured party has been paid by the county and its underlying insurer, the county's "legal obligation to pay" has been fully satisfied under subsection (1) of this section, and an insurer providing the county with a commercial umbrella policy could have no contractual liability to an injured party for that portion of his or her proven damages which exceeded the statutory cap. Molina v. American Alternative Ins. Corp., 270 Neb. 218, 699 N.W.2d 415 (2005).