Formerly an unincorporated area of DeKalb County, and often confused with the neighboring small town of Lithonia, Stonecrest is a young city in the process of developing independent infrastructure and public services.
Most of Stonecrest’s roadways, however, long predate its cityhood. Traffic in Stonecrest is much the same today as it has been for years, and so are its hazards, accidents, and tragedies.
While the responsibility for regulating traffic in Stonecrest may be in flux, state traffic and liability laws apply here just as they do everywhere in Georgia. Survivors of accidents in Stonecrest have the same right, need, and ability to fight for fair compensation as their neighbors in Conyers or Ellenwood.
Below, we’ll discuss some of the common causes of traffic accidents in Stonecrest, and what you can do if your family has been harmed by one. If at any point you would prefer to speak directly with a car accident lawyer in the Stonecrest area, feel free to reach out by phone or chat.
Mixing Intoxicating Substances with Driving Puts Everyone at Risk
While intoxicated driving is occasionally caused by unexpected reactions to medication and other substances, most of the time, it’s a choice. A person becomes intentionally intoxicated and then gets behind the wheel of a vehicle, knowing that their irresponsibility could hurt or kill someone. The decision to drive may be made while already in an impaired state, or the person may know full well that they intend to drive before becoming intoxicated.
Whatever a person’s reasons for driving while intentionally intoxicated, doing so is a crime, an act of negligence, and a serious threat to public safety.
One drunk driving incident here in Stonecrest ended in a four-car pileup at the intersection of Klondike Road and Mall Parkway. This was in October of 2018. The at-fault driver crashed into the back of a car that was stopped at a red light, apparently without making any attempt to brake. The car that was struck was propelled forward, impacting with two others, and the young woman inside suffered a traumatic brain injury. She died in the hospital two days later.
The intoxicated driver pled guilty and was sentenced to 16 years.
In drunk driving cases like these, where the fault is obvious and extreme, courts will usually side strongly with the victim’s family. Often, the drunk driver’s liability insurance will be ordered to pay significant compensation, plus possible punitive damages.
Without diminishing the responsibility of drunk drivers, the details of that specific driver’s confession also point to another possible negligent party in his case. He reportedly told police that he had been drinking at a Ruby Tuesday’s while watching a football game, and that he took a shot for every time UGA scored, on top of six other drinks.
Under Georgia law, a business that continues to serve alcohol to a visibly intoxicated guest, while having reason to believe that the guest will soon be driving, can be held liable for the damage that guest causes on the road.
Proving that a business knew about a guest’s intent to drive can be difficult, but it’s an angle worth examining, especially when a drunk driver has consumed such an enormous quantity of alcohol at a single location.
Fleeing Drivers Cause Some of the Worst Damage
Using a vehicle to physically run away from legal trouble rarely ends well, for the person running, and especially for those around them.
One of the main reason drivers flee is because they have already caused a serious traffic accident. This is called hit-and-run. It’s a crime, a form of negligence, and a sadly common occurrence in Georgia.
In January of 2022, a woman’s body was discovered on Marbut Road, near Lithonia Industrial Blvd. Her injuries suggest that a vehicle struck her from behind while she was walking to work in the morning. The driver then presumably abandoned her there, and the family is still searching for any information about them.
The reason fleeing an accident site is such a serious transgression is not just because it leaves the victims without closure, or because it denies them access to the most obvious source of compensation. It’s because the first responsibility of anyone involved in a car accident is to make sure everyone who needs emergency medical care receives it.
So, for example, if the woman above could have been saved with timely medical intervention, then the driver’s choice to flee, instead of calling an ambulance, caused her death.
Drivers who are already fleeing something also tend to be more reckless and more likely to cause further damage.
In September of 2022, a driver of a stolen car hit at least three other vehicles while fleeing police, before crashing into the entrance of the Tiburon Condominiums complex on Fairington Road. The driver of one of those other vehicles later described being struck at the exit of the Wendy’s drive-thru on Panola Road, and thrown into the middle lane. One of her passengers was pregnant at the time.
Thankfully, no one seems to have been seriously injured, but if they had, the fleeing driver or their insurance would have been liable.
Like driving under the influence, causing an accident as part of a larger crime spree or escape attempt tends to erase any doubt over assigning fault to the driver in court.
The Bigger the Vehicle, the More Attention It Requires
Obviously, driving any vehicle, from a scooter to a truck with an oversized load, is a dangerous activity that deserves close attention. Even pedestrians need to exercise caution to avoid endangering others, such as by forcing a car to swerve around them.
That said, the more mass a vehicle has, the more destruction it’s capable of causing with a single wreck, and the more lives the driver is potentially responsible for.
In vehicle-versus-pedestrian accidents, such as the one that killed the woman walking to work on Marbut Road, the pedestrian almost always suffers worse harm than the driver. Likewise, when multi-car accidents happen, the person in the smaller vehicle is far more likely to be killed or seriously injured than the person in the larger one.
Case in point, in September of 2022, a woman was driving home along Hillandale Drive, when her car was struck head-on by an SUV. The woman was killed, and her three children, all in the vehicle at the time, required hospital care. As is so often the case in this type of collision, there are no reports of harm to the SUV driver.
As dangerous as larger personal vehicles can be, commercial vehicles can be many times more massive, which is part of why they require special licenses and training to operate. Even with this training, commercial vehicle accidents do happen.
In July of 2022, a big rig veered off of the I-20, through a sound barrier, and into the backyard of a house on Shire Drive. The driver was found unconscious with non-life-threatening injuries. Thankfully, no one else was hurt, but as one resident noted, he and his wife could easily have been in the yard together if she hadn’t gone out that day. If that had happened, the results would almost certainly have been deadly.
What to Do If You’ve Been Harmed by a Traffic Accident in Stonecrest
As soon as an accident happens, there are several things you’ll need to do fairly quickly, to protect your health and the health of others, to avoid taking on legal liability that isn’t yours, and to prepare for the rebuilding process.
- Stop. Remove yourself from immediate danger, such as oncoming traffic, but do not move any farther away from the accident site than necessary. Otherwise, you could be considered a hit-and-run perpetrator, even if it was not your intent to avoid responsibility.
- Call 911. This step is a legal requirement in Georgia whenever there are visible injuries or major property damage. Although the city of Stonecrest does not yet have its own police department, the dispatcher will be able to connect you with county services for your area. You do not need to describe the accident in detail, but be sure to request the specific services you will need, depending on the apparent extent of the injuries, the presence of fire, etc.
- Provide your contact and insurance information to anyone else involved in the accident, and collect the same from the other drivers. If another driver flees before this step, write down the license plate number if you can. Do not discuss fault with anyone.
- If the accident requires an emergency response by paramedics, cooperate and allow them to examine you. This is often the first step in documenting your injuries, as well as treating them.
- Take your own pictures of the accident site, if feasible, or ask someone to do this for you.
- Only after the information exchange is taken care of, make your arrangements to leave. This might involve calling a local tow company, such as Tows R Us or By Grace Towing, driving away in your own vehicle if the level of damage allows this, or simply getting in the ambulance.
- Document all accident-related expenses as they occur, but do not delay medical care while anticipating a settlement. Schedule a full exam if you did not receive one on site, and keep all recommended follow-up appointments.
- At your earliest convenience, write down your experience of the accident as well as you can remember it, and begin looking for a car accident attorney who covers Stonecrest. Do not speak with any insurance representative without legal counsel. It’s important to consult with a qualified car accident lawyer in Atlanta to protect your rights and ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.
The Stoddard Firm Has Lawyers for Stonecrest Accident Survivors and Families
Finding a qualified lawyer after a car accident can make the difference between receiving full compensation for your financial and emotional losses, or a token settlement that doesn’t even cover a replacement vehicle.
In addition to expertise in traffic law, personal injury, and wrongful death cases, it’s a good idea to check how much experience a lawyer has with the Stonecrest area itself. Hiring someone local is not just convenient but extremely useful when it comes to gathering and analyzing evidence.
At The Stoddard Firm, we’re familiar with Stonecrest’s traffic patterns, as well as its legal quirks as a young city formed out of a formerly unincorporated area. We can coordinate with Emory Hillandale Hospital or Piedmont Rockdale to establish the nature of your injuries. If you’ve lost a loved one, we can work with any of Stonecrest’s many funeral homes, including Henry, Tri-Cities, and Divine, to make sure the remains have been fully examined in time for your memorial service.
To learn more about how we can help make your recovery from a Stonecrest traffic accident as successful and stress-free as possible, reach out to our injury attorneys any time at 678-RESULTS or through our online chat function for a free consultation.