Residents of Stonecrest have the same right to feel safe, and be safe, as residents of any other city. No matter how often that right is violated, it doesn’t go away. Not legally, and certainly not morally.
The fact that preventable deaths are so common in Stonecrest is no reason to accept or ignore them. Companies and organizations that operate in Stonecrest have a responsibility to prioritize safety, and this responsibility is actually greater due to the intense local history of injuries and death.
Below, we’ll discuss some common scenarios Stonecrest families might face, which would warrant wrongful death suits. If at any point you would prefer to speak directly with a wrongful death lawyer about your case, feel free to reach out by phone or chat.
Stonecrest Businesses Must Do Their Part to Stop Violent Crime
It’s no secret that criminal violence, particularly gun violence, is a serious ongoing threat to life for U.S residents. Violent crime worsened with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, rising by as much as 20% here in Georgia. Stonecrest in particular has an even higher rate of violent crime than the state average, ranking among the most dangerous 10% of all U.S cities.
The connection between criminal violence and negligent property management is often ignored, but property owners do have significant influence over local crime rates. When landlords invest in making their properties unwelcoming to violence, they’re not only protecting the people who live, work, or visit within the property limits. Statistically, they’re keeping their neighbors safer too.
This seems to be because violent criminals are more likely to continue a spree of violence, after finding an appealing first opportunity, than they are to go looking for a better opportunity after being deterred.
Stonecrest has had repeated problems with crime starting around gas stations.
On June 26th, 2022, police responded to reports of a fight at the Citgo gas station, at the corner of Woodrow Drive and Evans Mill Road. By the time they arrived, that fight had escalated to a fatal shooting.
Just four days later, two young men were shot and killed in Stonecrest on the same night, less than a mile from each other. The first shooting happened at another gas station, the Chevron station on Covington Highway, near Phillips Road. The next was in a residential area just off Phillips Road to the north, along Stablewood Way. Police believe the two shootings may be connected, meaning the one on Stablewood Way would be a continuation of the incident that started at the Chevron.
Parking Lots Around the Mall at Stonecrest Have Proven Particularly Vulnerable
In September of 2019, a man was shot and killed in the parking lot of The Mall at Stonecrest. That would have been an excellent time for the Mall to invest in security guard coverage for the parking lot area, if not sooner. Instead, the area has remained a convenient venue for further violence.
In May of 2022, there was an altercation in front of the Chapel Beauty in the smaller nearby strip mall, which shares its parking lot with the Mall itself. It allegedly started when a boyfriend and girlfriend entering the store heard two men in a nearby car making offensive comments. Based on security footage of the incident, the boyfriend shot both of the other men in the legs. The couple then got back in their car and fled.
Even businesses in the Mall area that do have security guards may need to step up their efforts. In February of 2022, there was a fatal shooting at the Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram dealership on Mall Parkway. The 24-year-old victim was a security guard. A 16-year-old suspect was later arrested for the shooting.
Apparently, a sole, probably inexperienced security guard simply wasn’t enough.
Violence in Rented Homes Is a Management Issue Too
Crime hotspots can pop up around residential buildings just as easily as businesses, if the owners aren’t willing to invest in appropriate security. Just like commercial landlords who refuse to deter violence, residential landlords who do the same are endangering their residents, guests, and neighbors.
The residential area near the corner of Fairington Parkway and Fairington Road is an unfortunate example.
Back in 2020, someone fired into a moving car, hitting the two men inside. As a result, the car crashed into Rue Fontaine Condos, landing on top of an elderly woman inside. The car’s passenger was killed, and the driver and the woman were both seriously injured. Three people were arrested in connection with the incident, as well as for miscellaneous drug charges, including intent to distribute.
Then, in March of 2022, a man was shot and killed during an alleged gun sale gone wrong in a residence on Place Fontaine, right next to Rue Fontaine.
Less than five months after that, and about half a mile away, a shooting at the Quarry Apartments ended with one man dead, another in critical condition, and a woman with minor injuries caused by bullets striking her car. The shooting apparently arose out of an argument in the middle of a social gathering in the complex’s parking lot.
Violent crime may cluster around this area because one of these properties allows it a foothold, or because all of them do. In either case, property owners in this area have no excuse for not noticing that violent crime is a serious threat to their tenants. At this point, any refusal to provide thorough security is a fairly clear example of negligence.
Landlords Are Responsible for Other Property Hazards Too
When a landlord invites visitors onto a property, or rents it out to tenants, the landlord is responsible for making sure the property is as safe as reasonably possible.
Crime is just one of the many types of hazards that landlords are supposed to address, but often don’t, particularly when the people who use the property are classified as low-income or belong to a marginalized group.
This year in Stonecrest, vendors at a new mall, The New Black Wall Street, have called out the property’s owner for alleged neglect. The company that operates the mall, Allen Entrepreneurial Institute, claims that its mission is to support minority and woman-owned businesses. Multiple vendors report, however, that they were given retail spaces that leaked severely in the rain, and that they were kicked out in retaliation when they requested repairs.
The complaints focused primarily on ruined inventory, but unchecked leaks are also a danger to life and health. Water damage can lead to electrical shorts, mold, and even structural collapse. In the shorter term, leaks also increase the risk of slip-and-fall accidents, which can result in serious and even fatal head injuries. If any of these types of incidents were to occur, Allen Entrepreneurial Institute would likely be liable for the results.
Another major threat to life on poorly maintained properties is fire.
The International Building Code and Fire Code require building owners to meet some fairly specific safety standards, not only to prevent fires from starting, but to minimize casualties when they do.
In February of 2022, a fire started in a second-floor unit of the four-story Wesley Providence Apartments building, on Wesley Providence Parkway. The fire climbed the walls to the roof, where it spread across the full width of the building, destroying it beyond repair. The damage was so severe that investigators say they may never discover the cause.
Thankfully, everyone did get out safely. However, interviews with survivors mention a rush to warn each other by pounding on doors. There is no mention of whether the building had working smoke alarms. Disturbingly often, burning buildings turn out to be lacking even this most basic safety measure.
When fatalities do happen in residential fires, families and investigators should question not just how the fire started, but how it was able to spread as fast as it did, and why the victim was unable to escape in time. Very often, landlord negligence is the answer to at least one of these questions.
Caregivers and Employers Have Unique Safety Responsibilities
The more control an entity has over a person, the more legal responsibility that entity has for the person’s wellbeing. Whereas landlords only control the safety precautions for the spaces they own, caregivers and employers control many day-to-day details of people’s lives.
This control is often abused.
In May of 2014, before Stonecrest was even a city, a 16-month-old boy was rushed to the hospital from the local, now-defunct, Angela’s Little Daycare. He had suffered serious brain injuries consistent with shaken baby syndrome, an easily avoidable condition typically caused by abuse, and one that every qualified caregiver for children should know how to prevent. The owner of the daycare was sentenced to 15 years for cruelty to children.
Though there is no word of the family filing a suit, they would have had a strong case.
Unlike daycares, which are supposed to be safe havens for children, some adult workplaces understandably carry inherent dangers. Even so, employers are required to mitigate those dangers wherever possible. High-risk industries, like construction, are regulated by extensive, detailed OSHA guidelines. When workplace accidents do happen, they’re usually brought on by the employer’s indifference and noncompliance.
In July of 2022, a landscaping crew was removing trees from a lot on Serenity Lane, near Evans Mill Road, to make way for construction of a new house. During the process, a heavy tree limb fell on top of one of the workers, fatally injuring him.
Though the victim was part of the crew working on the lot, he was not one of those working on the specific tree that crushed him. This means he should not have been standing within range to be hit by it. It would have been a supervisor’s responsibility to establish and enforce a safety zone around any work that involved heavy objects suspended overhead, but this apparently didn’t happen.
Although employers are legally responsible for following safety regulations and common sense, worker’s comp law can make suing them more difficult than it would be with other negligent parties.
That’s not to say that it’s impossible to sue for full compensation after a workplace fatality. A skilled wrongful death lawyer can help you identify the options for your unique situation.
What to Do If You’ve Lost a Loved One to Negligence in Stonecrest
The period immediately after a death in the family can be many things, none of them easy. You might be swamped with tasks, or feel paralyzed and helpless while waiting for police, doctors, utilities, and government organizations to complete various parts of the process.
Filing a wrongful death suit might or might not be one of the first things on your mind.
While you don’t have to make a decision right away, a little planning can help you avoid losing an option you might value later. If you think there’s a chance you’ll be interested in filing a wrongful death suit:
- Keep all documentation relating to the death or associated costs.
- Do not answer questions or accept money from any potentially negligent parties.
- As soon as you feel comfortable, have a talk with a qualified wrongful death lawyer, preferably one who has experience with similar deaths in your area.
The attorneys at The Stoddard Firm are well-versed in wrongful death law, employment law, premises liability, product liability, driver negligence, medical malpractice, and many connected areas of law. We know Stonecrest, which means we know when a death here is unprecedented, and when it’s part of a long pattern of negligence.
We also have experience coordinating with local funeral homes, including Henry Funeral Home & Cremation, Tri-Cities Funeral Home, and Divine Mortuary Services, to make sure thorough investigations interweave harmoniously with peaceful farewells.
To get started speaking with a wrongful death lawyer in Stonecrest, just reach out by chat or at 678-RESULTS for a free consultation.