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5 FAQs About Medical Malpractice in Columbia SC

medical malpractice in SC

It’s generally assumed that you can trust doctors and other medical professionals to provide you with the best care possible. However, an unfortunate reality is that, sometimes, a healthcare provider’s negligence leads to needless harm and suffering (such as a new or worsening medical condition). This is known as medical malpractice, and it is punishable under South Carolina law.

If you feel that you or a loved one has been a victim of medical malpractice in Columbia, SC, you likely have many questions about potential recourse. In this article, we’ll be addressing five frequently asked questions about medical malpractice, including:

  • What qualifies as medical malpractice in Columbia, SC?
  • Can I sue my doctor?
  • What damages can I expect to receive from a medical malpractice lawsuit?
  • How long does a medical malpractice lawsuit take?
  • How to file a medical malpractice lawsuit in Columbia, SC

01. What Qualifies as Medical Malpractice in Columbia, SC?

By definition, medical malpractice refers to an instance in which a medical professional’s actions (or lack thereof) do not meet the accepted standard of care, resulting in harm to the patient. This extends beyond doctors to include other healthcare practitioners such as nurses, pharmacists, dentists, physical therapists, chiropractors, etc.

It’s important to note that not every mistake made by a medical professional can be considered malpractice — only those that are outside of the accepted standard of care. To many, this definition will seem fairly ambiguous. Indeed, medical malpractice law in South Carolina is very complex and nuanced — which is why you should consult a Columbia medical malpractice lawyer to help you assess your unique situation. 

02. Can I Sue My Doctor?

In short, yes, you can sue your doctor. As mentioned above, you can file a medical malpractice lawsuit against any licensed healthcare professional (doctors, nurses, dentists, physical therapists, chiropractors, etc.). That being said, you must file the claim within a certain timeframe known as the statute of limitations.

According to Section 15-3-545 of the South Carolina Code of Laws, medical malpractice lawsuits must be filed within 3 years from the date of the treatment/omission, or, in some cases, 3 years from the date you discovered that harm had been done. In all cases (excluding rare exceptions), the lawsuit must be filed within 6 years from the date of treatment/omission — regardless of when you discovered that harm had been done. If you try to file a medical malpractice lawsuit after the statute of limitations has passed, you will, unfortunately, have no legal recourse.

03. What Damages Can I Expect to Receive from a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?

Medical malpractices damages can be divided into two overarching categories: punitive damages and compensatory damages. 

Punitive Damages for Medical Malpractice

Punitive damages are intended to punish the defendant (reserved for egregious cases in which willful, wanton, or reckless behavior can be proved). 

Compensatory Damages for Medical Malpractice

Compensatory damages, on the other hand, are monetary awards that serve as compensation for the financial loss, pain, and suffering you’ve experienced as a result of medical malpractice. Compensatory damages can be further divided into two types: economic and non-economic. 

  • Economic damages reimburse objective financial losses that you’ve incurred, such as medical bills and lost wages due to an inability to work. 
  • Conversely, non-economic damages account for subjective or speculative harm/loss, such as pain, emotional distress, future medical bills, future lost wages, etc.

In South Carolina, there is a limit of $350,000 for non-economic damages against a single defendant. If multiple defendants are involved, that limit increases to $1.05 million. However, this limit only applies to non-economic damages; there is no cap on economic damages. On that note, working with an experienced Columbia medical malpractice lawyer will help you maximize the amount of compensation you receive.

04. How Long Does a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Take?

Medical malpractice lawsuits are complicated processes with many steps. As such, they can last anywhere from a few months to multiple years. To better understand this timeframe, we can break down the primary phrases of a case…

The process begins when you select a Columbia medical malpractice attorney to work with. Your attorney will start by reviewing your medical records, bills, and other relevant documents. After sufficient examination, your attorney will then file the lawsuit. However, it can take up to 1-3 years for your case to go to trial

Once the lawsuit has been filed, a “discovery” phase ensues in which both parties request information to build their cases. Three to four months after filing the lawsuit, you’ll be required to participate in mediation to see if the case can be resolved out of court. During this time, it is common to negotiate a settlement before the case goes to trial (which can reduce the amount of time it takes for you to receive compensation). 

If a settlement is not agreed to, the case will then go to trial. Trials can last months or even years depending on the complexity of the case. But, keep in mind that a settlement can still be negotiated at any point during the trial.

05. How to File a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit in Columbia, SC

Medical malpractice lawsuits in South Carolina begin with a Notice of Intent to File Suit (and other required documents). However, given the complexity of these cases, you should consult a Columbia medical malpractice attorney before you attempt to do anything on your own. An experienced attorney will guide you through the legal process, help you build the strongest case possible, and act as your advocate during both the trial and settlement negotiations.
Planning to pursue a medical malpractice lawsuit? Trust Bernstein & Berstein to help you receive the compensation you deserve. Our attorneys’ experience extends across a wide variety of medical malpractice claims and we’ll work tirelessly on your behalf. Contact us today to learn more about how Bernstein & Bernstein can assist you with your case.

How Do I Find a Public Defender in Columbia SC?

How Do I Find a Public Defender in Columbia SC? 1

Under the Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, all criminal defendants have the right to legal representation. This means that if you’re involved in a criminal case and cannot afford a lawyer, you may be appointed a public defender to advise and represent you (free of charge).

If you’re facing criminal charges in Columbia, SC and are concerned about the cost of hiring a lawyer, obtaining a public defender may be an appropriate course of action. So, in this article, we’ll be addressing some key considerations to take into account when seeking a public defender in Columbia, SC, including:

  • How to find a public defender in Columbia, SC
  • Qualifying to receive a public defender in South Carolina
  • Should you use a public defender or private attorney?

How to Find a Public Defender in Columbia, SC

To begin the process of obtaining a public defender in Columbia, SC, you can contact the Richland County Public Defender’s Office (see contact information below). You can still qualify to receive a public defender even if you’re in jail. However, it should be noted that qualification is not automatic.

Contact information for the Richland County Public Defender’s Office:

Telephone: (803) 765-2592

Office Hours:

8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.


To determine eligibility, a judge or official will assess your income level, assets, debt, household size, and other relevant factors — as well as the crime you’ve been charged with. Once your eligibility has been confirmed, you may then have a public defender assigned to you.

Qualifying to Receive a Public Defender in South Carolina

As mentioned above, your eligibility to receive a public defender in South Carolina depends on several factors (primarily related to your financial circumstances). To better understand what that entails, we can start by referring to Section 17-3-10 of the South Carolina Code of Laws, which states:

Any person entitled to counsel under the Constitution of the United States shall be so advised and if it is determined that the person is financially unable to retain counsel then counsel shall be provided upon order of the appropriate judge unless such person voluntarily and intelligently waives his right thereto. The fact that the accused may have previously engaged and partially paid private counsel at his own expense in connection with pending charges shall not preclude a finding that he is financially unable to retain counsel.

In this excerpt, we see that, in order to receive a public defender:

  • It must be determined that you are financially unable to afford a lawyer.
  • A judge’s order is required for a public defender to be appointed to you.

In South Carolina, public defenders are typically reserved for people whose income falls below the Federal Poverty Line. However, judges can grant exceptions at their discretion.

To apply for a public defender, you’ll need to submit an affidavit that declares your assets and affirms your financial inability to hire a lawyer. There’s a $40 application fee to submit this affidavit, although it’s possible to have this fee waived if you cannot afford it.

Should You Use a Public Defender or Private Attorney?

Choosing your legal representation is a very important decision — one that can have a profound impact on the outcome of your case. To help inform your decision, here are some notable pros and cons to keep in mind when weighing the option of using a public defender or a private attorney:

Public Defender Advantages & Disadvantages

The main advantage of working with a public defender is the fact that you won’t pay a fee for their services. For this reason, a public defender often seems like the best option to those with financial constraints — and some may feel it’s their only option.

That being said, public defenders often have very heavy caseloads — and this can detract from the time and energy they’ll be able to dedicate to your particular case. Furthermore, since public defenders are assigned, you won’t be able to choose which one you’ll work with.

Private Attorney Advantages & Disadvantages

Private attorneys often have lighter caseloads than public defenders, which can equate to more time spent on each individual client or case. This additional time can be used for 1-on-1 meetings, research, and other activities that could potentially benefit your case.

Private attorneys also tend to have access to more resources (e.g. paralegal staff, funds to hire expert witnesses and labs, etc.) — which can allow them to be more efficient and effective. However, this all comes at a cost. Unlike public defenders, private attorneys charge fees for their services.

At Bernstein & Bernstein, we’ve been helping people since 1943. We understand that criminal charges are daunting — and you may feel that you cannot afford a lawyer. In addition to providing criminal defense services as a part of our standard practice areas, our firm regularly works with local government to provide free legal services for criminal cases. We’re here to asses you however we can. If you need a lawyer in Columbia, SC but are worried about the cost, give our office a call or contact us to learn more about how we can help you. 

Who Files for Wrongful Death in Columbia, SC?

Who Files for Wrongful Death in Columbia, SC? 2

Losing a loved one is always a heartbreaking situation. But losing a loved one due to another person’s (or another entity’s) actions can lead to even more devastating effects. 

If your loved one died as a result of someone else’s misconduct or negligence, and you are one of their family members or survivors, you may consider filing a wrongful death lawsuit. Below, we’ll walk through what wrongful death lawsuits are, who can file for them, and how a Columbia, SC wrongful death attorney can help you get the compensation you deserve. 

What Is Wrongful Death? 

Wrongful death is a claim against a defendant who has caused someone’s death, either through negligence or as the result of intentional action. This claim is filed in an effort to seek compensation for the losses suffered by the survivors of the deceased. These losses could include lost companionship, lost wages, funeral expenses, and more. 

Wrongful Death Case Examples

Wrongful death lawsuits are applicable in scenarios where a victim could have filed a valid personal injury claim but was instead killed at the fault of the defendant’s wrongful action. Some of the most common examples of this include:

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Columbia, SC?

Depending on which state you live in, different people are allowed to file a wrongful death lawsuit — whether that be the victim’s spouse, parents, or someone else. In South Carolina, the only person allowed to file a wrongful death lawsuit is the executor or administrator of the victim’s estate. 

If the victim has a will, the executor’s name will likely be listed in it. If the victim doesn’t have a will, then the court can appoint someone to file. It’s also important to remember that even though only one person is allowed to file the claim, the damages recovered are still split between each of the victim’s survivors. 

How Are Wrongful Death Claims Proven?

In order to prove the defendant liable in a wrongful death claim, you must be able to prove that their negligent or intentional actions were the cause for your loved one’s death. You must also be able to provide the following things:

  • An estate representative to file the claim
  • Monetary damages for the surviving family members, related to the victim’s death
  • A claim filed within the statute of limitations, which is three years in South Carolina

How Are Wrongful Death Settlements Determined, and How Are They Paid Out?

The amount of your wrongful death settlement depends on the number and severity of damages caused. Possible wrongful death damages could include: 

  • The victim’s pain and suffering before they died
  • The victim’s treatment costs before they died
  • Funeral and burial costs
  • Loss of income and benefits due to the victim’s death
  • Loss of inheritance due to the victim’s death
  • Loss of care, guidance, and nurturing that the victim would have provided
  • Loss of love and companionship that the victim would have provided
  • Loss of consortium

Based on the calculation of each of those damages, the court will come to a settlement agreement. Once the settlement is determined, the defendant’s insurer will send a check with the full value to your lawyer. Your lawyer will then deduct the fees for their services and other legal costs, then send a check with the remaining money to the estate’s executor, who will then divide the money between themself and the rest of the victim’s survivors. 

Talk to a Columbia, SC Wrongful Death Attorney to Start Your Case

If you need assistance navigating the process of filing for wrongful death, Bernstein & Bernstein is here to help. Our Columbia, SC attorneys take care of all the details, so you can receive the benefits you’re looking for without having to extend your pain and loss. To get started on your claim, contact our firm today. 

Can I Get Workers’ Compensation in Columbia, SC for Chronic Pain?

Can I Get Workers’ Compensation in Columbia, SC for Chronic Pain? 3

If you’ve suffered a workplace injury, you know how serious the effects can be for you and your loved ones. Luckily, workers’ compensation benefits are in place to ensure that you get the medical treatment you need, you can heal properly, and you can resume your normal routine quickly — all of which should be covered by your employer. 

And, for many, that’s how the process usually goes. However, for others left with chronic, debilitating pain even after their injury is treated, the process gets a little more complex. 

Although fully legitimate, chronic pain is more difficult to claim in workers’ compensation cases, mostly because its causes are not completely understood. But if you can prove it’s directly caused by a clearly documented workplace accident, you have a good case. Below, we’ll break down more about chronic pain — including what it is, how it’s diagnosed, and how a workers’ compensation attorney in Columbia, SC can help you get the compensation you deserve. 

What Is Chronic Pain? 

After a workplace injury, some people may continue to experience pain even after they’ve reached maximum medical improvement (MMI). Chronic pain is any pain that lasts at least three months from the initial onset of symptoms, and cannot be resolved by various forms of treatment after reaching MMI. 

2 Common Types of Chronic Pain

In many cases, chronic pain is attributed to a condition called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS). CRPS presents itself in one of two forms: CRPS-1 and CRPS-2. 

  • CRPS-1 – Also known as Reflect Sympathetic Dystrophy, it involves soft tissue injuries like burns, tears, sprains, and strains with no underlying nerve damage. It includes chronic conditions like arthritis, tendonitis, and bursitis. 
  • CRPS-2 – Also known as causalgia, it involves injuries to major nerves, usually as a result of blunt force trauma or a penetrating wound. It can present itself immediately, or it can arise months to years after the injury. 

The symptoms of CRPS-1 and CRPS-2 can vary from person to person, and can even change over time. Some of them include:

  • Stiffness in affected joints
  • Muscle coordination problems
  • Abnormal limb movements
  • Changes in skin texture of the affected area
  • Abnormal sweating pattern in the affected area
  • Changes in nail and hair growth patterns

How Is Chronic Pain Diagnosed and Treated?

In order to receive workers’ compensation benefits for chronic pain, you need a professional diagnosis. There are many diagnostic methods that healthcare professionals use, including blood tests, ultrasounds, thermography, electrodiagnostic testing, x-rays, and MRIs. 

If you’re experiencing chronic pain from a workplace accident, it’s important that you get these tests done and documented as soon as possible. The documentation of the results of these tests is critical in getting the compensation you deserve for treatment, which could include various forms of physical therapy, psychotherapy, medications, nerve blocks, spinal cord stimulations, and more. 

Understanding the Complexity of Workers’ Compensation for Chronic Pain

Unfortunately, many people who suffer from workplace injuries find it difficult to manage their chronic pain symptoms. This is mainly due to three reasons: the severity of the pain, the skepticism they face from employers and insurers, and/or the difficulty of proving their chronic pain stems directly from the workplace accident. 

Treatment of chronic pain can last for several years, sometimes even the workers’ entire life. Therefore, employers and their insurers have to pay significant costs to cover them — and since that negatively affects their profits, they’ll usually work hard to find a way to deny the claim. Without proper diagnosis, documentation, and legal counsel, it can be difficult to prove how your injuries and pain are still derived from the accident, especially after months or years have passed. 

How a Workers’ Compensation Attorney in Columbia, SC Can Help You

If you’ve suffered a workplace injury and are experiencing any form(s) of chronic pain because of it, you deserve to receive workers’ compensation benefits from your employer and their insurer. Hiring a Columbia, SC workers’ compensation attorney can help ensure you make the best case for yourself. 

By understanding the neurological and psychological impact of chronic pain in your life, and by maintaining up-to-date knowledge on American Medical Association (AMA) guidelines, a workers’ compensation attorney can aid in the fight to get the benefits you’re entitled to. They’ll guide you in getting the proper diagnosis and documentation you need, and they’ll always work with your best interests in mind. They can help take a little bit of the stress out of what can be a very stressful, painful process. 

Looking for help with your workers’ compensation claim? Contact Bernstein and Berstein. Our team is your local, Columbia, SC source for thorough and responsive legal action. We handle each case personally to ensure that you’re taken care of both during the legal process and afterward. 

Truck Accidents in Columbia, SC: What You Need to Know

Truck Accidents in Columbia, SC: What You Need to Know 4

Sharing the road with large trucks can be scary for some drivers — and, unfortunately, truck accidents do happen. But, even though they occur on the road, truck accidents are a bit more complicated than run-of-the-mill traffic accidents. 

In case you’ve recently suffered injury from one, or you’re involved in one in the future, here’s everything you need to know about truck accidents in Columbia, SC. 

Are Truck Accidents Different from Car Accidents?

Yes, for a couple of reasons. 

First of all, large trucks have more weight and force (at least 25x more than a typical car), which can often result in greater damage in the event of a collision. This can lead to serious, lifelong injuries and emotional suffering for survivors — or, even worse, it could lead to death. 

Also, large trucks carry a variety of materials, some of which can be hazardous or flammable. This can also make the impact of the collision more severe. 

Finally, truck accidents involve professional drivers who are held to higher standards on the road. These drivers are usually associated with employers who are governed by federal law and will often bear the responsibility for any accidents that occur. This makes the litigation process a bit more complicated. 

All that said, truck accidents are usually much more complex than car accidents, and are therefore treated differently in the eyes of the law. 

What Is Considered a “Large Truck”?

The term “large truck” can be rather subjective, but in the legal world, it includes the following vehicles:

  • Tractor-trailer
  • 18-wheeler
  • Large freight truck
  • Delivery truck
  • Tanker truck

What Are the Common Causes of Truck Accidents?

There’s an infinite number of things that can lead to a truck accident. However, some of the most common causes are: 

  • Employer negligence 
  • Employer liability
  • Truck driver fatigue
  • Inexperienced or untrained truck drivers
  • Distracted driving
  • Speeding
  • Truck equipment failure
  • Weather conditions
  • Improper loading

It’s important to understand the causes of truck accidents because many of these can be used to prove your case and assign fault in a personal injury claim. For your personal injury claim to be valid, someone other than you needs to be at fault. Understanding what caused the accident can help you determine if it’s the employer, the trucker, the truck manufacturer, and so on. 

What to Do If You’re in a Truck Accident in Columbia, SC

If you’re involved in a truck accident in Columbia, SC, you should first examine yourself for any medical attention you may need. If you don’t need immediate medical treatment, you should do the following:

  • Check your passengers and the truck driver to make sure they’re safe.
  • Call the police, inform them of the incident, and request medical attention. 
  • Obtain the truck driver’s insurance and contact information. Ask them if they’re employed by a trucking company, work as an independent contractor, or operate the vehicle under a lease.
  • Take photos of the accident and any damage with your phone. Try to capture any logos on the truck.
  • Make note of the road conditions, weather conditions, or any other conditions that could have contributed to the crash.
  • Get the names and contact information of any witnesses.

Once you leave the scene, you should also get in contact with a Columbia, SC truck accident lawyer as soon as possible. They’ll help you sort out the details of your case, advocate for your needs in court, and ensure you receive the maximum compensation you’re entitled to for your injuries. 

If you’ve been in a truck accident, you’ll need trustworthy attorneys by your side to help you recover what you’ve lost. Contact Bernstein & Bernstein and we’ll help you through the process.

5 Common Mistakes in a Personal Injury Case in South Carolina

5 Common Mistakes in a Personal Injury Case in South Carolina 5

If you’ve suffered harm from an accident or injury and somebody else may be legally responsible for that harm, you may be entitled to legal compensation. Your first step to getting that compensation is filing a personal injury claim. 

Personal injury is the legal term used to describe any case that involves injury to your body, mind, or emotions — and if you’re the plaintiff, you may be able to recover compensatory damages, either economic or non-economic, for what you’ve endured. 

However, in order to make sure you get the compensation you deserve, it’s important that you follow all the right steps and avoid making mistakes before or during the claim filing process. To cue you in on what you should be aware of, here are five common mistakes to avoid while filing your personal injury case in South Carolina. 

5 Common Mistakes in a Personal Injury Case in South Carolina

Personal injury lawsuits are meant to protect you and your future — but if you miss any key components in the process, you may risk not getting the compensation you deserve. Here’s a list of five common mistakes you should avoid during your personal injury case in South Carolina. 

1. Not Calling the Police or Obtaining a Police Report

Whether you end up in court or at a settlement table, the truth of your case only matters to the extent in which you can prove it — and obtaining a police report is the critical first step in doing so. 

People’s viewpoints on the accident can change once they’ve had time to reflect or be advised on the situation. This is why it’s important to have a police officer document the situation right away. The evidence found in that report will help you prove your case. So don’t forget to call or choose not to call the police, and don’t let the defendant talk you out of it either. 

2. Not Speaking to Witnesses

As time goes by, witnesses’ memories fade and change. In fact, the mere passage of time can be used to discredit a witness’s testimony in court, even if they can still recount it all perfectly. On top of that, sometimes witnesses will move out of town or be difficult to locate. 

The bottom line here? Speak to witnesses and get their statements as soon as possible. Their testimonies can help preserve and prove the important details of your claim, further ensuring that you receive the amount of compensation you’re entitled to. 

3. Not Going to the Doctor or Following Doctor’s Recommendations

When it comes to going to the doctor to treat your injury, there are a few mistakes that can be made. 

  1. The first, of course, is not going to the doctor at all. 
  2. The second is lying to your doctor and exaggerating symptoms to get more compensation. 
  3. And the third is failing to follow up on appointments or your doctor’s recommendations. 

In a personal injury case, your doctor’s diagnosis, treatment plan, and recommendations are just as important as the police report. You need to get an honest and professional medical evaluation, obtain documentation of what’s wrong and what it will take to heal, and follow through with it all. Otherwise, your credibility can suffer and the value of your claim can drop significantly. 

4. Posting on Social Media

While you’re in the midst of a personal injury claim, insurance companies will do everything they can to discredit your claim — even monitor your social media profiles. If you post anything that could affect the credibility of your testimony and claim, they can and will use it against you. 

Say, for instance, you were injured in a car accident, and two days later you post a photo of yourself drinking alcohol at a party. Even if the party occurred long before or long after your accident, they could find a way to use it against you and deny or discredit your claim. Therefore, it’s best to refrain from any type of posting while your case is pending. 

5. Waiting Too Long to File

If you want to file a personal injury lawsuit in South Carolina, you need to do it as quickly as possible. The sooner, the better. 

There’s a time limit in every state to file, known as the statute of limitations. In South Carolina, the statute of limitations is generally two to three years — with the clock starting on the day of your incident. And since it can take time to gather documentation and prepare your case, it’s better to start the process early. 

How a Columbia, SC Lawyer Can Help You in Your Personal Injury Case

Those five mistakes can significantly reduce your ability to get full compensation for what you’ve suffered — but perhaps the biggest mistake of all is not working with a Columbia, SC lawyer. 

While you can choose to legally represent yourself, the process will go much smoother if you have a lawyer to help you. Working with an experienced lawyer in Columbia, SC gives you a knowledgeable professional to advocate for your needs and maximize your compensation. And they’ll make sure you don’t commit any of these five common personal injury case mistakes. 
Ready to pursue your personal injury suit? Trust Bernstein & Berstein to help you get the compensation you’re entitled to. We’re experienced in claims just like yours and are ready to earn you the peace and relief you need after your experience. Contact our firm today.

Can I Be My Own Lawyer in Columbia, SC?

Can I Be My Own Lawyer in Columbia, SC? 6

No matter what kind of charge you’re facing or claim you’re filing, you’re going to need legal representation — but that representation can come in a variety of forms. In this article, we’ll answer one of the most common questions we get about the legal process: “Can I be my own lawyer?”

Do You Need a Lawyer in Columbia, SC?

No, generally you are not required to hire a lawyer in Columbia, SC. All adult citizens have the constitutional right to represent themselves in court. If you represent yourself, you’re called a “pro se,” “pro per,” or “self-represented” litigant — all of which mean you’re acting as your own attorney. 

However, being your own lawyer isn’t recommended. You’ll rarely achieve better results than you would if you worked with a licensed and experienced attorney — if you receive any results in your favor at all. Licensed, experienced professionals know the complex laws and processes specific to Columbia, SC so well that it’s difficult to proceed without them. 

Some believe that there are benefits to self-representation. In most cases, these are false benefits. Let’s take a look at a few of them: 

Myth #1: You’ll Save Money by Representing Yourself

While you may save money on lawyer fees by choosing to represent yourself, you’ll likely sacrifice a lot of money you could have earned with better representation. In most cases, the outcome you receive by representing yourself is less than ideal. Depending on the situation, you’ll either receive much less compensation than you deserve, or you’ll end up spending a lot more in fines that the judge imposes on you.

Myth #2: You Can Represent Yourself Best Because You Know Your Situation Best

Many people follow the thought process of “I know my situation best, so I can represent myself best.” While it’s true that you were the one who experienced the details of your case first-hand, it’s not always true that you can represent yourself best. Your familiarity with the circumstances doesn’t mean you are familiar with the legal system. You need someone who knows the details of laws and how they apply to your case. 

What You Need to Be Your Own Lawyer in Columbia, SC

If you do decide to be your own lawyer in Columbia, SC, you’ll need to prepare yourself properly for court. To do so, you’ll want to follow these guidelines:

  • Read about the law and how it applies to your case
  • Prepare the evidence that you will use in your case
  • Understand and follow all court rules and procedures
  • Keep track of all documents and deadlines
  • Know where your courtroom is located
  • Act and dress professionally in the courtroom
  • Be realistic about what the judge or jury can and cannot do

5 Main Reasons to Hire a Columbia, SC Lawyer for Legal Help

Being your own lawyer can be overwhelming, and it can often lead to less-than-ideal legal outcomes. In most cases, it’s much more beneficial to hire a Columbia, SC lawyer to represent you. Here are a few main reasons hiring a lawyer is often better than representing yourself: 

  1. The law is complicated and always changing. A licensed lawyer will be informed and up-to-date on it. 
  2. Lawyers know how to leverage evidence. While you may have evidence, they’ll know how to present it most effectively. 
  3. Lawyers are trained in negotiation. They’ll always work to get you the best outcome, whether that be minimized consequences or maximized compensation. 
  4. Lawyers have access to witnesses and experts you need on your side. They’ll know where to go, who to talk to, how to subpoena necessary witnesses, and how to prepare them for a court appearance that works in your favor. 
  5. The other party probably has legal representation. This would give them a big advantage if you chose to represent yourself. 

Looking for some legal help? Talk to our team at Bernstein & Bernstein. We’ll listen to you and make recommendations that best suit your needs. To get started working with one of our Columbia, SC lawyers, give our firm a call or contact us online

Do You Need a Closing Attorney in Columbia, SC?

Do You Need a Closing Attorney in Columbia, SC? 7

If you’re looking to buy or sell a home or commercial property, you know that it’s a pretty complicated process. And with a lot of money and assets exchanged in the process, you want to do everything you can to ensure things go according to plan. 

For this reason, many homeowners and business owners choose to hire a real estate lawyer to help with closing. In fact, it’s even required in some states. Let’s take a look at whether closing attorneys are required in Columbia, SC, and what benefits they can bring to your real estate transactions. 

Do You Need a Closing Attorney in Columbia, SC? 

Yes, South Carolina is one of the few states that requires a licensed closing attorney. They’ll handle many major components of the closing process and work with you to ensure the transaction goes smoothly. This requirement is applicable to both residential and commercial real estate transactions. 

The Role of a Closing Attorney in a Real Estate Transaction 

A Columbia real estate lawyer has many functions that help buyers and sellers during the closing process. We’ll outline their main five responsibilities below: 

  • Gather necessary information from buyers and sellers (mortgages, deeds, loan payoffs)
  • Supervise the title search, commitment, and insurance
  • Communicate with both parties to agree on a closing date and time
  • Instruct both parties on what needs to be accomplished and signed
  • Supervise the escrow process and disbursement of funds

From these responsibilities, you can tell that having a lawyer is imperative to the success of the transaction. They’re truly there to help you throughout all stages of the process, leaving you with peace of mind that all of your assets are protected. 

3 Benefits of Working with a Closing Attorney in Columbia, SC

Yes, closing attorneys are required by law in Columbia, SC — but they’re also just nice to have. That requirement is there for a reason: they’re knowledgeable professionals who will help reduce the risk of something going wrong during the process. Even homeowners who live in states that don’t require them still choose to hire them. Here’s a little insight as to why:

1. A Closing Attorney Will Ensure All Documents Are Organized and Accurate

There are so many documents involved in real estate transactions. Just for the closing process, there are at least nine that need to be reviewed and signed. 

Luckily, your South Carolina real estate lawyer will keep track of them all. They’ll also read them over line-by-line, ensuring that they’re accurate and that they offer comprehensive legal protection. All you have to do is sign where they tell you to and ask questions when you have them. 

2. They’ll Help You Work Through the Legal Jargon

The real estate industry is full of confusing documents and legal jargon — most of which you won’t have time to decode, and your real estate agent won’t think to decode for you. With a South Carolina real estate lawyer, you’ll get to work alongside a professional with a robust knowledge of the industry. They’ll go through all documents to make sure they serve your best interest, and they’ll help you make sense of it. 

3. They’ll Negotiate to Get You the Best Deal Possible

In many real estate transactions, buyers want to negotiate repairs after the inspection comes back with issues. By working with a South Carolina real estate lawyer, you have a trained negotiator on your side. They can help you save thousands of dollars in repairs, so you’re not paying anything more than you need to. 

Trust the Columbia, SC Real Estate Lawyers At Bernstein & Bernstein

Bernstein & Berstein’s real estate lawyers have the experience to facilitate your home closing and/or commercial real estate transactions in South Carolina. Give our office a call or contact us online to further discuss the details of your upcoming sale or purchase, as well as how we can help you with it. 

How to Win a Slip and Fall Case: Information from a Columbia, SC Lawyer

How to Win a Slip and Fall Case: Information from a Columbia, SC Lawyer 8

“Slip and fall” is the legal term used for a personal injury case where someone trips, slips, or falls and is injured on someone else’s property. Usually falling under the broad category of premises liability claims, slip and fall cases claim that an at-fault party (usually the property owner or lessee) is responsible for injuries caused, due to negligent care of their property.

If you’ve suffered an injury on someone else’s property, and it was the result of an at-fault party’s negligence, you may be entitled to legal compensation. That said, slip and fall cases can be tricky to win, so it’s important that you know what information you need to prove your claim. Here’s some useful information from our trusted, experienced Columbia, SC lawyers. 

2 Key Factors In Winning a Slip and Fall Case

Slip and fall cases can be tough, but they’re by no means impossible to win. In order to get the results you want and the compensation you deserve, you need to accomplish two things:

  1. Prove that another party was negligent, and therefore liable for your injury
  2. Prove that you didn’t cause or contribute to the accident with your own actions or carelessness

By keeping these things top-of-mind, you’ll have a higher likelihood of winning your case. We’ll break down each of them a little further below. 

How to Prove Negligence and Liability in a Slip and Fall Case

In order to hold another party responsible for your injuries in a slip and fall accident, you must prove that either 1) a reasonable person would have, or should have, noticed the hazardous condition and repaired it, but the party failed to do so, or 2) the party actually caused the hazardous condition leading to the accident, and it was reasonably foreseeable that someone would be injured because of it. 

The term “reasonable” is important here, as it comes up in many stages of a slip and fall case. In order to be held negligent, and therefore liable, the party must have failed to act as a reasonable person would have acted under similar circumstances. It’s a bit of a subjective concept, but most juries and judges consider the following questions in their decision-making process:

  • Did the dangerous condition exist long enough for a reasonable person to take action and eliminate it?
  • Did the owner or operator have actual or constructive notice of the hazard?
  • Was there a reasonable justification for the creation of the potential hazard?
  • Could the dangerous condition have been made less dangerous through preventative measures like relocation, signage, or access prevention?
  • Were any warnings provided?

How to Prove You Didn’t Cause or Contribute to the Accident

In many slip and fall cases, the defendant (property owner or operator) will argue that you are partially responsible for the accident and your injuries. This argument is made under the legal term “comparative fault”, which is codified into each state’s comparative negligence and contributory negligence laws. 

In South Carolina, the legal doctrine “modified comparative negligence” applies to all shared fault situations in a personal injury case. Under this law, your own shared fault doesn’t act as a barrier to recovery, so you can still get compensation from other at-fault parties — as long as your own negligence isn’t more than their combined negligence. Your compensation will be reduced in proportion to your share of the fault. 

For example, if the court or jury sets your damages at $50,000, but finds you 50% responsible, you’ll only receive $25,000 from other involved parties. 

In order to avoid losing any of your entitled damages, you need to prove that you didn’t contribute to or cause the accident in any way. Here are some things juries and judges will look for when determining this:

  • Did you engage in an activity that may have prevented you from noticing the hazard, when an otherwise reasonable person would have noticed it?
  • Did you have lawful access to the location where the accident occurred?
  • Did you ignore or fail to notice adequate signage or safety measures that were utilized?
  • Was the hazard open and obvious?

Work With a Columbia, SC Lawyer to Win Your Slip and Fall Case

Ready to win your slip and fall case? Bernstein & Berstein is your source for thorough and responsive legal action from some of the best attorneys in Columbia, SC. We handle each case personally to ensure that you’re taken care of — throughout the legal process and after. Contact our team to get started today. 

What’s the Difference Between Economic and Non-Economic Damages?

What’s the Difference Between Economic and Non-Economic Damages? 9

What’s the Difference Between Economic and Non-Economic Damages? 

Personal injury is the legal term used to describe any case that involves injury to your body, mind, or emotions. If you’re a plaintiff in a personal injury case, you may be able to recover compensatory damages for the suffering you’ve endured. 

Usually, these compensatory damages consist of some combination of economic and non-economic damages. Below, we’ll clarify the difference between the two types of damages, as well as how a Columbia, SC lawyer can help you recover both of them.

What Are Economic Damages?

Economic damages include any compensation you recover for the verifiable monetary losses that stem from your injury. Economic damages are sometimes referred to as “specific” damages because they’re concrete, can be readily documented, and are easily calculated — as long as you are diligent about saving all relevant bills and receipts. 

The most common form of economic damages is medical expenses, but can also include other specific, tangible monetary losses like:

  • Loss of past and future wages
  • Loss of business opportunities as the result of injury suffered
  • Costs of repairing or replacing damaged property
  • Costs of any domestic services that are necessary, but unable to be provided by the plaintiff due to injury

What Are Non-Economic Damages?

Non-economic damages refers to compensation for non-monetary losses that stem from your injury. The concept is a bit more subjective because it includes types of harm that’s value is intangible. These types of damages don’t have receipts or verifiable information, and so the value of them has to be assessed and argued for by your attorney. 

Non-economic damages can come in many forms, including (but not limited to):

  • Pain
  • Suffering
  • Inconvenience
  • Emotional distress
  • Injury to reputation
  • Loss of society and companionship
  • Loss of consortium (companionship of a spouse)
  • Loss of enjoyment of life

How Are Non-Economic Damages Calculated?

Although non-economic damages can’t be measured monetarily, they are real challenges you may experience as a result of your injury. Therefore, the law considers them compensable and a dollar amount is subjectively assigned to each of them, depending on what the jurisdiction allows. 

There is no concrete rule for calculating the value of non-economic damages, so it’s up to the jury and judge to determine, based on relevant factors in the injury, like level of loss, degree of negligence, and projected effects on the plaintiff’s future. 

For pain and suffering, the most common non-economic damages, there are two methods that are frequently used to determine the value:

  • Multiplier method – The plaintiff’s economic damages are multiplied by a specific number, which is based on the injury and its impact on quality of life. For example, if the economic damages totalled $25,000, and the multiplier is 3, the value of damages for pain and suffering would total $75,000. 
  • Per diem – Calculates non-economic damages based on each day the plaintiff has suffered pain related to the injury. For example, if the plaintiff were to suffer permanent pain and suffering due to injury, a daily rate calculation could be made based on the judge’s or jury’s determination of a dollar amount for one day of damages, multiplied by the number of days remaining in that person’s life (using average life expectancy tables).

Is There a Limit for Non-Economic Damages In Columbia, SC?

Some states cap how much compensation you can recover when it comes to non-economic damages. South Carolina is not currently one of these states, and therefore there is no limit to monetary compensation you can be awarded.

However, there is one exception to this. In South Carolina, there is a non-economic damages limit for personal injury cases resulting from medical malpractice, which is $350,000 per claimant. 

Hire a Columbia, SC Lawyer to Help You Recover Damages

If you’re planning to file a personal injury claim, hiring a Columbia, SC lawyer can help you recover the damages to which you’re entitled. While economic damages are fairly easy to verify and receive, you may need help effectively communicating the complexities of your case to receive appropriate non-economic damages. This is where the knowledge of a trusted Columbia lawyer can be beneficial. 

The attorneys at Bernstein & Bernstein understand that every situation is multi-faceted, and the proper response should be just as complex, which is why we consider all possible damages when evaluating cases for our clients. To work with an attorney who cares about your experience and relieves the pain you survived, contact Bernstein & Bernstein today.