Nebraska Small Claims Court Process

Nebraska Small Claims Court Process

Last Updated: March 16, 2023 by Ashley Porter

Quick Facts Answer
Small Claim Maximum $3,900
Deadline to File 4 Years: Oral lease agreement

5 Years: Written lease agreement

Filing Fees $29
Appeal Deadline 30 Days

Small Claims Court Basics in Nebraska

Small Claims Court is an informal court designed for minor cases limited to a maximum claim amount. The trial does not involve a jury. Instead, the plaintiff and defendant present their case to the judge, who makes a decision.

Common suits filed by landlords include:

  • Recovery of unpaid rent
  • Damages that exceed the amount of the security deposit
  • Failure to uphold the responsibilities of the rental agreement
  • Early termination of a lease

Common suits filed by tenants include:

  • Failure to return the security deposit correctly
  • Failure to uphold the responsibilities of the rental agreement
  • Overcharging for damages

How Long Does the Small Claims Court Process Take in Nebraska?

A typical small claims case in Nebraska takes one to two months, from the date of filing, but can be longer if there are problems serving the defendant, the trial is continued, or other delays occur.

How Much Can You Sue For in Small Claims Court in Nebraska?

In Nebraska, the maximum amount that can be recovered through Small Claims Court is $3,900.

To attempt to recover an amount of more than $3,900, the suit must be filed as a civil case in County Court.

How Long Do You Have to File a Small Claim in Nebraska?

In Nebraska, you have up to 5 years from the date of the dispute to file a small claims case if the tenancy was governed by a written lease agreement. If the lease was oral, the case must be filed within 4 years.

Are Lawyers Needed or Allowed in Small Claims Court in Nebraska?

Small Claims Court is designed to be simple and not require an attorney in most situations. Nebraska Small Claims Court does not permit the use of an attorney except to perform limited court functions.

An attorney may be used to transfer a case out of Small Claims Court, file a motion for a new trial, or set aside, vacate, or modify a default judgment.

Where are Small Claims Cases Filed in Nebraska?

In Nebraska, Small Claims Court is a division of County Court. A small claims case should be filed in the County Court where the rental property is located or where the defendant lives or works.

How to File a Small Claims Case in Nebraska 

Step 1: Complete page 1 of the Claim form. The court clerk will complete page 2 when you file.

Step 2: File the Claim by mail or in person at your local County Court.

Step 3: Pay the filing fee.

How Much Does it Cost to File a Case in Small Claims Court in Nebraska?

The fee for filing a case in Small Claims Court in Nebraska is $29.

What if You Can’t Afford to File a Case?

You can still file a case if you cannot afford the fees by filing an Application and Order to Proceed in Forma Pauperis.

Small Claims Court Process in Nebraska

After filing a small claims case in Nebraska, the court clerk will schedule a trial date and the appropriate documents are served on the defendant.

Step 1: Serve the defendant. After you file the Claim, you will need to serve all three pages of the Claim form on the defendant no later than 5 days before the trial.

Service on the defendant can be completed by:

  • Certified mail restricted delivery
  • Private process server
  • Sheriff or constable

If you choose to complete service by certified mail, you will need to submit a Certified Mail Return to the court clerk at least 5 days before the trial. Instructions for completing service are listed on page 2 of the Return form.

Step 2: Gather witnesses. If you think it would help your case, ensure that any witnesses are available to attend the trial. For example, you may ask the apartment manager to serve as a witness to how clean you left the apartment after moving out.

You may need to subpoena a witness if you are unable to get them to attend voluntarily by filing and serving a Subpoena.

Step 3: Attend the trial. On the trial date, you should bring copies of any evidence you have to support your claim. The judge will give you and the defendant an opportunity to provide your arguments before deciding to dismiss the case or issue a judgment.

If the defendant does not attend the trial, the judge will issue you a default judgment.

Winning a Small Claims Judgment in Nebraska 

If you win the judgment in Nebraska, the other party may appeal the case, you may be paid the judgment within the allotted time period, or you may need to pursue additional actions to recover the debt.

If the defendant disagrees with the outcome of the trial, they have 30 days after the entry of the judgment to appeal to District Court by filing a Notice of Appeal.

When the judge issues the judgment, they may determine a time period for repayment. In the best case, the judgment debtor pays their debt within this period.

If the debtor is delinquent on their payment or refuses to pay, there are multiple court actions available to recover the debt. The most common methods of enforcing a judgment are garnishment of wages, bank garnishment, or property seizure. To initiate these processes, you would need to file a case through the County Court to seek court-enforced repayment of the judgment.

A judgment gains annual interest at a rate based on the bond investment yield published by the Secretary of the Treasury. You have 5 years to collect a judgment before it expires. However, a judgment can be revived within 10 years after it expires.