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Police Captain's Widow Sues New Jersey City for Crash Involving Police Captain

A woman involved in a car accident with a Trenton police captain has filed a lawsuit against the city.

Nancy Beth Orsini was driving on I-295 north in Burlington when she said Captain Paul Messina of the Trenton Police Department lost control of his vehicle and hit her Lexus, causing it to spin out of control and smash into two trees.

Orsini said her car was totaled in the accident. She is seeking $41,536 in damages, including the cost of replacing the car. However, she refused medical treatment at the time of the crash and has not filed a claim for personal injuries.

(Coincidentally, Orsini is herself the widow of a retired Trenton Police Captain. Captain Carlo Orsini died suddenly in 2011 at the age of 49, on Father's Day, while he and his wife were in the Dominican Republic to renew their wedding vows.)

Messina was driving a city-owned Ford Crown Victoria at the time of the accident with Orsini. Messina was authorized to drive the vehicle but a local ordinance prohibits city-owned vehicles from leaving the city. The law is rarely if ever enforced.

Another recent accident involving a Trenton-owned vehicle also happened on I-295 north near Burlington. In August, a city recreation van flipped over, injuring the 15 passengers on their way home from an amusement park. The van only had 11 seats and seatbelts, and the driver was not licensed to drive the van.

In many cases, the doctrine of sovereign (or governmental) immunity protects government entities and employees from liability for injuries and damage they cause. However, motor vehicle accidents are an exception.

In general, to bring a motor vehicle accident claim against a government entity or employee a person must show that:

  • The vehicle involved was owned or leased by the government.
  • The vehicle was operated by a government employee performing his or her job.

Also, potential plaintiffs in cases against a government generally must file an administrative claim before bringing a lawsuit. This claim must be filed within a limited time after an accident - often 30 to 180 days. Failure to file the claim on time will likely make it impossible to seek damages in court.

If you've been involved in a vehicle accident, whether or not a government employee or vehicle was involved, contact an experienced personal injury law attorney at the New Jersey Law Offices of Greenberg, Walden & Grossman, LLC.

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