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Why You Should Work with a Columbia Workers’ Compensation Lawyer

A Columbia, SC workers’ compensation lawyer can make sure you and/or your dependents receive what you’re entitled to if you get sick or injured on the job. Let’s look at how workers’ compensation works and when a Columbia lawyer can help you receive the benefits you deserve.

How Does Workers’ Compensation Work?

The Workers’ Compensation Act in South Carolina allows an employee who suffers an injury or illness by accident arising out of and in the course of employment to receive benefits. The injured worker must provide notice of the injury to the employer and file the claim. Benefits include medical expenses, compensation for lost time or diminished income, and disability benefits if he/she suffered a permanent injury. You may forego these benefits if you fail to file a claim or if the claim is denied. We can help you through the claim procedures, including a complicated appeals process. 

Insurance companies are rarely motivated to look out for workers’ interests, and they will often do whatever they can to disprove claims and refuse to give out funds, even if the claims are legitimate. One reason the insurance company may deny your claim is if the cause of the injury is unclear. They may argue that the injury was sustained outside of the workplace, or was a pre-existing condition. A workers’ compensation lawyer can gather evidence to support your claim and protect your rights. 

Do I Need a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer?

A lawyer isn’t always necessary when you want to claim a workplace injury to receive benefits. If the injury is minor and heals completely, is clearly related to your work, and/or doesn’t require you to miss a long period of work, your claim is likely to be smaller and unlikely to be disputed.

More complex cases, however, can be more difficult to navigate, for both workers and insurance companies. These might include your case if:

  • You have a pre-existing condition
  • You have an injury that is difficult to define
  • You are being accused of fraud
  • You are unable to work for the long term or indefinitely
  • You receive Social Security disability or other government benefits
  • You have not yet received benefits after submitting your claim
  • You are unable to receive the medical care you need without workers’ compensation benefits
  • You have an repetitive motion injury
  • You have an occupational illness or disease
  • You have a serious brain injury
  • You have a mental injury

Or, if you’re currently disputing or appealing your claim, a lawyer may be necessary to expedite the process.

Why Work with a Columbia, SC Workers’ Compensation Lawyer

A workers’ compensation lawyer can offer you a better chance of receiving the benefits you deserve, even if your claim is denied. They will help gather documentation and evidence, recommend experienced and qualified doctors and medical personnel, represent you at your hearing, and negotiate on your behalf to earn the best possible outcome. 

Here are three reasons why you should work with a Columbia, SC workers’ compensation lawyer:

There’s a Time Limit to Make Your Claim

In South Carolina, if you are a victim of a workplace accident and suffer an injury, you have up to 90 days to report the incident, and up to two years to file a claim. This may sound like a long time, but if you’re unsure if your injury qualifies you for workers’ compensation or are facing other pressures, the clock can run out surprisingly quickly. It’s best to contact a Columbia, SC workers’ compensation lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your case, collect evidence, and make your claim.

You Can Recover More with a Columbia, SC Lawyer

People who are represented by a workers’ compensation lawyer are likely to recover more than those who approach the process alone. Insurance companies are working to save their own money and may try to talk you out of pursuing your claim, try to discredit your case, or dispute minor inconsistencies to convince you to settle for less than you deserve. 

When you work with an experienced attorney in Columbia, SC, you’ve got a local professional in your corner to advocate for your best interests. They can help you present a solid case and receive the benefits for which you’re entitled.

You Don’t Owe Anything Up Front

Many workers’ compensation lawyers work on a contingency basis, so you don’t owe anything upfront. Their fee will come out of what you are awarded for your permanent disability, either in a settlement or as determined by the Workers’ Compensation Commission. This means you won’t ever have to worry about paying out of pocket for an attorney. By law, you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits in the case of a legitimate workplace injury, and a Columbia, SC lawyer will make sure the law is upheld.

Workers’ Compensation Lawyers in Columbia, SC

Looking for help with your worker’s compensation claim? The workers’ compensation attorneys at Bernstein & Bernstein are your source for thorough and responsive legal action. We handle each case personally to ensure that you’re taken care of — throughout the legal process and after. Give us a call to get started.

Warrantless Searches Based on Outstanding Warrants Permitted

In a recent 5-3 decision, Utah v. Strieff, the United States Supreme Court ruled that police can seize evidence from an unconstitutional search so long as the person has an outstanding arrest warrant.

The High Court ruled that even if police violate the Constitution by stopping someone without suspicion, an arrest warrant entitles them to conduct a search. In that circumstance, they said, there is no “flagrant police misconduct.”

In writing the majority opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote, “Evidence is admissible when the connection between unconstitutional police conduct and the evidence is remote or has been interrupted by some intervening circumstance.”

In her dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor said, “The court today holds that the discovery of a warrant for an unpaid parking ticket will forgive a police officer’s violation of your Fourth Amendment rights. This case allows the police to stop you on the street, demand your identification, and check it for outstanding traffic warrants — even if you are doing nothing wrong.”

At this juncture, the impact of the High Court’s most recent decision on searches and seizures in South Carolina is unknown. However, if you or someone you know has outstanding warrants for traffic tickets or criminal charges, or was arrested following a dubious search or seizure, contact the law offices of Bernstein & Bernstein, LLC, to see if we can help.

States Cannot Criminalize a Defendants’ Refusal of Blood Test in DUI Arrests

In a recent decision, the United States Supreme Court held that states cannot criminalize the refusal to take a blood test without a warrant, but also ruled that it was acceptable for states to punish the refusal to take a breath test. The Court went on to say that states can force suspected drunken drivers to take breath tests without first obtaining a warrant but cannot require them to take a more invasive blood test.

Lawyers for three defendants convicted of refusing to take tests in North Dakota and Minnesota had argued that the laws in those states violated the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment, which prohibits unlawful searches and seizures, because police did not have to obtain warrants first.

In writing the majority opinion, Justice Alito said, “Because breath tests are significantly less intrusive than blood tests and in most cases amply serve law enforcement interests, we conclude that a breath test, but not a blood test, may be administered as a search, incident to a lawful arrest for drunk driving,”

The states which were parties to the suit garnered support from advocacy groups such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving and The Foundation for Alcohol Responsibility, which argued that public safety is a compelling reason that justified the laws. But civil liberties groups contend that states cannot criminalize the assertion of a constitutional right.

This recent ruling affirms the 2013 decision in Missouri v. McNeely wherein the Supreme Court limited the ability of police to take involuntary blood samples from suspected drunken drivers without a search warrant.

If you or someone you know has been penalized for refusing a breathalyzer or blood test following a DUI arrest, call the law offices of Bernstein & Bernstein, LLC, to see if we can help.

Juveniles Convicted and Sentenced to Life Imprisonment

Montgomery v. Louisiana

For the second time in 4 years, the United States Supreme Court handed down a major ruling in an Eighth Amendment juvenile sentencing case with its decision in Montgomery v. Louisiana (2016).

Miller v. Alabama

In 2012, the Court ruled in Miller v. Alabama, 567 U. S. ___ (2012), that mandatory sentencing schemes requiring that “all children convicted of homicide receive lifetime incarcerations without the possibility of parole” violate the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment. A few years later in Montgomery, the Court was presented with another case involving the sentencing of an offender who was a juvenile when his crime was committed, but whose conviction predated the Miller decision by 50 years. In a 6-3 decision in favor of Montgomery, the Court ruled that its decision in Miller was retroactive – hence, deeming life sentences without the possibility of parole for juveniles preceding Miller as violative of the Eighth amendment.

Bernstein and Bernstein Can Help Juveniles Convicted and Sentenced to Life Imprisonment Without Parole

If you know someone that has been convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole as a juvenile, please do not hesitate to contact the law offices of Bernstein & Bernstein, LLC, to see if we can help.

Phone App That Assists Drunk Drivers Launches in SC

COLUMBIA, SC (WLTX)- It’s called Duey Dialer, and it’s here in the Midlands.

The app is available for free download in eight states, including South Carolina. But it’s stirring up controversy because of its target audience: drunk drivers.

You download the app, and if you’re ever pulled over for a DUI, you press the button and it instantly records your conversation with law enforcement. It then sends the recording and your location to an attorney in your area.

Columbia Attorney Overture Walker is not a fan.

“It jumped out to be as a bit superfluous or a bit unnecessary,” he said, “when you consider that we already have laws on the books in South Carolina that actually require all traffic stops, particularly traffic stops involving DUIs, to be recorded.”

Sergeant Brian Dowdy with the Richland County Sheriff’s Department says that officers are already on high alert when they pull someone over, so people should be aware of that before they reach for their phones.

“If someone reaches for something quickly were concerned because they could be reaching for a weapon,” he said. “Weapons can be hidden anywhere now. There’s actually guns disguised as phones.”

In a statement Thursday, Duey dialer spokesperson Nate Leding said: “People in the Midlands will really benefit from the Duey Dialer app. It’s like insurance. Nobody expects to get pulled over by law enforcement, but if that happens, your rights will be protected. It’s like having an attorney in your pocket.”

Local attorneys need to register with the app in order to be notified.

But Walker says he won’t be one of them.

“I think the app at least originally seems to be superfluous, maybe even disingenuous” he said. “But I think the law we currently have on the books, I believe it works, and it works very well.”

And while he doesn’t think the app makes much sense, he does stress that recordings play an important role in DUI arrests.

“When you have a DUI case so much of it is subjective,” he said. “It’s based on what the officer perceives. An officer often times share his or her observations with the jury in an effort to procure a conviction. So you have a defendant who is basically stuck with the officer’s observations without anything to really counter or counteract what the officer says in court.”

And Sergeant Dowdy says even though there’s an app for that, he hopes people always drive sober.

“We prefer they use their phones before they get in the car and call a safe ride home,” he said. “That’s what we want to see. I’d rather them do that then go out and get hurt or get pulled over and have to use that app.”

Driving Privileges Under Suspension for Accumulating Too Many Points

Are your driving privileges currently under suspension for accumulating too many points? If so, call the law offices of Bernstein & Bernstein, LLC, because you may eligible for a special driver’s license.

Under South Carolina law, the Department of Motor Vehicles may suspend a person’s driver’s license upon a showing that the licensee has been convicted with such frequency of offenses in violation motor vehicle traffic laws as to indicate a disrespect for the laws and a disregard for the safety of others on the highways. This disrespect and disregard is reflected by the number of points, specifically 12 points, assessed against a driver as determined by the values designated by statute for individual traffic offenses. The suspension periods for excessive accumulation of points against a driver’s license are as follows:

  • 12 to 15 points – 3 months
  • 16 to 17 points – 4 months
  • 18 to 19 points – 5 months
  • 24 points and over – 6 months

If you are a college student or gainfully employed, don’t miss out on future career opportunities by quitting school or risking job termination, hence, putting your family in a financially perilous position over suspension of your driver’s privileges. You may be eligible for a special restricted driver’s license that allows you to travel to and from school or your place of work during the period of suspension. So, no more unnecessary angst over finishing college or job security, call the law offices of Bernstein & Bernstein, LLC, today and see if one of our experienced lawyers can help.

The Youthful Offender Act in South Carolina

Are you currently facing criminal charges in  General Sessions Court that are punishable by a term of imprisonment in the Department of Corrections? Have you exhausted all diversionary programs from Pre-Trial Intervention (“PTI”) to a Conditional Discharge plea? Are you worried about having up a criminal conviction follow you for the remainder of your life?  Do you  had a criminal conviction appearing  on your  background report or “RAP sheet”?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, you should contact the law offices of Bernstein & Bernstein, LLC, because you may be eligible for sentencing pursuant to the Youth Offender Act (YOA) and for the expungement of criminal charges.

In South Carolina, a person is eligible for a YOA sentence if they are 25 years of age or younger, charged with a non-violent offense, and his or her case has been bound over for proper criminal proceedings. Most misdemeanor and non-violent felony offenses bound over for trial in  General  Sessions Court are eligible for disposition pursuant to the Youthful Offender Act. Although a person would have to plead guilty to criminal charges pursuant to the Act, he or she is entitled to have record of the conviction expunged five years from the date of completion of  his or her  sentence, including probation or parole.

Whether you are facing non-violent felony charges in  General  Sessions  Court with no diversionary program options or you have a conviction on your record which has impeded your ability to find a well-paying job, contact the Bernstein & Bernstein, LLC, and see if one of our experienced lawyers can help.

The Effect of Having an Identifying Code on Your License After Being Convicted of a Crime of Violence

When you ask someone about the possible reasons that a person could lose his or her driver’s license, most people think of –

  • Unpaid traffic tickets
  • A DUI conviction
  • Accumulation of  the maximum number of points allowed

What most people don’t know is that if you have criminal charges against you for a “crime of violence,” you could be at risk of losing your driver’s license if convicted. In South Carolina, “crimes of violence” are classified by statute and are distinct from “violent crimes.” Crimes of violence range include, but are not limited to –

  • Burglary
  • Robbery
  • Assault with intent to commit any offense punishable by imprisonment for more than one year

In the event that you are convicted for a “crime of violence,” you are required to surrender your driver’s license to the Department of Motor Vehicles. Failure to submit your driver’s license to the Department will result in cancellation of your driving privileges. However, if you surrender your driver’s license to the Department, in exchange, you will receive a new license with an identifying code affixed to the reverse side.

The purpose of the identifying code is to alert law enforcement of your criminal background in the event of an encounter with a police officer.

Although the statute prohibits law enforcement from using the identifying code as grounds to extend the detention of a person in their custody, this part of the law is susceptible to abuse considering that a police officer’s suspicions are often elevated during an encounter with an individual with a known criminal history. Further, the identifying code remains on your driver’s license for five (5) years following the completion of your sentence (i.e. imprisonment, probation, or both).

If you or someone you know finds yourself facing this legal quandary, please contact the attorneys at Bernstein & Bernstein, LLC. We will advocate robustly on your behalf to protect your constitutional rights along with your driving privileges.

Workers Compensation for Back Injuries

Workers Compensation for Back Injuries

The Facts About Workplace Back Injuries

Back injuries on the job are reported as the most common reason for workplace absenteeism, which can result in loss of wages and opportunities for millions of workers. Recent figures from the US Department of Labor and OSHA indicate that as many as 80% of working adults experience at least one significant back injury in their lifetime, with about 10% suffering a re-injury in the future.

It doesn’t actually matter what kind of work you do. People suffer from work related injury to the back for all types of occupations, from factory workers to executive secretaries. While those who handle materials on a repetitive basis are the primary source of compensable injuries in the American workforce, even employees who sit at computer workstations for eight hours a day report back injuries serious enough to miss work. Four out of five back injuries will affect the lower back, while the rest occur in other areas of the spine and neck.

Know Your Workers’ Compensation Rights When Back Injury Occurs

Workers’ compensation is available to protect employees who have experienced back injuries on the job, enough that they must miss work for medical treatment or recovery time. As soon as an injury happens, it’s important to file an incident report with your employer’s human resource department. Failure to do so can and may result in a loss of workers’ compensation benefit and wellness support.

What if you experience resistance when trying to file workers’ compensation for a back injury? That’s where Bernstein and Bernstein, LLC. can help. Our trained legal team is here to help you through the often confusing process of filing for workers’ compensation benefits. If you are not able to work due to your back injury, we can make sure you get access to the medical care and financial support to help you recover. Don’t leave this up to your employer, who may not have your best interests at heart.

Bernstein and Bernstein, LLC. and our experienced team of workers’ compensation lawyers can help you get the benefits you deserve. Call us today at 803-799-7900, for a free, no obligation consultation.

Come back soon for more articles about workers’ compensation, with the help and advice you need to get back on your feet.

Charged with a DUI in South Carolina?

Dealing with a South Carolina DUI Charge

If you’ve recently been pulled over for a traffic violation and charged with Driving Under the Influence in South Carolina, try not to panic. Every year, South Carolina rakes in billions of dollars from citizens in the form of traffic tickets and DUI’s. With the average DUI costing $10,000 or more in fines, court costs, and increased insurance premiums, not to mention lives lost; it’s really no surprise that law enforcement officers in South Carolina are diligent about busting people who have been drinking and driving.

How DUI’s Happen in South Carolina

DUI’s are most prevalent during weekends and holidays, when people decide it’s ok to have a few drinks and then drive. Most DUI’s are preventable, but even so there are always going to be folks who think it’s ok to drive a short distance with a buzz. Or those who get a DUI’s while trying to drive their more-drunk companions home. There are also people who get a DUI for being under the influence of medically prescribed treatments, being too tired to drive and other circumstances, which are misinterpreted by the police.

Why You Need a Qualified DUI Attorney in South Carolina

Whatever your case happens to be, you are better off consulting with a seasoned DUI defense attorney who can advise you on what to do to take care of this matter. If this is your first offense, there’s a good chance that you can successfully have the DUI charges dropped, or your fines reduced significantly. This can add up to thousands of dollars, so it’s actually worth it to fight in a court of law to have your DUI reduced to a misdemeanor.

A vast majority of traffic and DUI offenders never bother to appear in court, which is really a poor way to handle this serious matter. Failing to obtain legal representation and protect your legal rights can cost you a lot more than just money. You’ll likely have to answer to future employers, creditors and acquaintances because a DUI is a felony that will stay on your permanent record for life. It’s not a good thing to just ignore a DUI or wish it will go away.

Why live with the stigma of being a “criminal” when you can talk to a lawyer who cares about your situation? There are ways you can fight a DUI and win in a court of law when you hire the seasoned DUI defense lawyers at Bernstein and Bernstein, LLC. in Columbia, South Carolina. Remember, you are not guilty until it’s proven in court. Get the right legal advice when you talk to us!

For expert legal representation with any DUI case, call Bernstein and Bernstein, LLC. at 803-799-7900 before you lose out.

Check back soon for more helpful advice and information about DUI topics!