• May 27, 2022

James Jenkins Struck, Killed by 18-Wheeler on Carolina Beach Rd in Wilmington, NC

Wilmington, NC -- May 26, 2022, 36-year-old James Jenkins was struck and killed by a tractor-trailer along Carolina Beach Road in Wilmington.

Authorities say the incident happened around 7:15 a.m. on the 2600 block of Carolina Beach Road. Preliminary investigation suggests Jenkins was sleeping or lying in a blanket, possibly partway in the road, when he was fatally struck by a passing 18-wheeler. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The crash remains under investigation. No further information is currently available.

Commentary on James Jenkins Accident on Carolina Beach Rd in Wilmington

People may be fairly divided when it comes to questions of fault in this situation. On the one hand a truck hit a person while passing along the roadway, but on the other reports suggest the victim may have been lying in the path of traffic. One could argue he shouldn't have been where he was, but obviously that still doesn't make him "open season" for motorists in the eyes of the law.

It's important to learn more facts about the situation before drawing conclusions about who's to blame for it. Questions of visibility, road conditions, the condition of the truck, the status of both parties (awake? alert? paying attention?), where precisely the victim was in relation to the road, and many other variables have to be considered. That kind of careful investigation is important after just about any crash, but even more so when one happens in North Carolina.

James Jenkins Struck, Killed by 18-Wheeler on Carolina Beach Rd in Wilmington, NC

The Tar Heel State uses an antique (and frankly unfair) system of liability called pure contributory negligence. In a nutshell, it says that a victim may only collect damages if they can prove someone was 100% responsible for an accident. If defense can show the victim was even slightly to blame for their injuries, the case is thrown out. As we can see from the limited information in early reports, the trucking company might already have an edge if they can convince a jury that the victim was sleeping in or too close to the road. It would fall to his loved ones to demonstrate he actually wasn't, and that would need forensic evidence and hard facts to prove.

It's not impossible to make a claim in a "pure contrib" state, but it requires plenty of ironclad evidence usually only found through diligent analysis of an accident. Unfortunately, that "extra mile" philosophy isn't always part of the work police put into a traffic accident--even a fatal one. That's why after these incidents I almost always suggest an independent investigation to make sure all the facts are found. Whatever they reveal, those involved and the loved ones of the person killed deserve to know that every effort was made to uncover all the answers. If any other action should be taken, knowing that will depend largely on investigators' findings.

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