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Do You Need a Closing Attorney in Columbia, SC?

Do You Need a Closing Attorney in Columbia, SC? 1

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 2

“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? 3

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.

Is It Too Late to Report a Workplace Accident? What You Need to Know When Filing for Workers’ Compensation in Columbia, SC

workplace accident

If you’ve been injured on the job in a workplace accident, you’re likely entitled to workers’ compensation. Workers compensation is a state-mandated insurance program that provides financial reimbursement for lost wages, help for medical treatments, and payment for permanent disability or death — all as a result of injuries in the workplace. 

However, workers’ compensation does have a timeline you need to adhere to in regards to reporting and receiving benefits. In this article, we’ll outline who can file for workers’ compensation, how long you have to report an accident, and how to get the best representation in your case with a Columbia workers’ compensation lawyer. 

Who Can File for Workers’ Compensation in Columbia, SC?

Workers’ compensation in Columbia, SC is available to all employees who have suffered work-related illnesses, accidents, injuries, or deaths. This is the case regardless of who was at fault, whether that be the employer, a coworker, a customer, or the employee themself. 

Although you have the right to workers’ compensation, you should not rely on your employer or the insurance company to help you file for it. In these cases, their best interests are not in mind, so it’s up to you to find the information and resources you need to protect your rights and receive your compensation benefits. 

How Long Do You Have to File for Workers’ Compensation in Columbia, SC?

Workers’ compensation is only available for a certain amount of time after your workplace accident occurs. In South Carolina, you typically have up to 60 days to report the accident, so it’s important to file your workers’ compensation claim as soon as possible. If you are unable to meet this deadline, you’re likely to have a more difficult time receiving the benefits you were originally entitled to. 

Why Should You Hire a Workers’ Compensation Attorney in Columbia, SC?

Unfortunately, your employer and workers’ compensation insurance agency don’t always care that you receive fair compensation for your work-related illness or injury. The compensation just isn’t in their best interest. Therefore, you’re responsible for gathering information and resources to file and get the most out of your benefits — which can be tricky and confusing without the help from an experienced Columbia workers’ compensation attorney. 

At Bernstein & Bernstein, our workers’ compensation lawyers can be trusted to help you understand your rights and get the care and compensation you need, fast. While we’re experienced in all aspects of workers’ compensation cases, we specialize in the following instances and programs:

We also know that a fast turnaround is important for you to take full advantage of your benefits, so we’re committed to doing our legal work quickly and efficiently. We promise to promptly respond to your concerns, swiftly complete your insurance claim, and quickly schedule a hearing if your claim is denied and requires legal action. 

Whether you’re preparing to file a claim for workers’ compensation or fear you’ve missed your filing window, reach out to Bernstein & Bernstein. Our legal team is dedicated to ensuring you get the benefits you’re entitled to.

3 Signs of Nursing Home Abuse & What You Can Do About It

nursing home abuse

Placing an elderly loved one in a nursing home is a difficult decision for many families, but knowing that they’ll be adequately cared for can help make the process easier. And in most cases, every person within a nursing home does receive the care they need on a day-to-day basis. 

Unfortunately, some facilities fall short and nursing home abuse in Columbia, SC does happen — and when it happens to one of your loved ones it can be especially devastating. That’s why, in order to make sure they’re safe and taken care of, it’s important to know what to look out for. Below, we’ll discuss three signs of nursing home abuse, as well as what you can do about it here in Columbia, SC. 

3 Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

While most nursing home abuse cases are obvious, there are some that can go unnoticed without proper attention. And when identifying and reporting these issues can often be the difference between life and death for elderly individuals, it’s important to spot them early on. Here are three of the most common signs to watch for:

1. Malnutrition/Dehydration

Malnutrition and dehydration are some of the most common signs of nursing home abuse. Your loved one may be suffering from malnutrition and/or dehydration if you notice any of the following indicators:

  • Sudden weight loss
  • Dry mouth and/or cracked lips
  • Swollen tongue
  • Reduced urination
  • Overall sense of weakness

Some of these indicators may be a result of your loved one’s normal aging conditions. However, if any of them occur without reasonable explanation, it’s important to figure out the cause. 

2. Unexplained Injuries

If you find any signs of injury on your loved one’s body that don’t have an explanation, they could be a result of nursing home abuse. In the most extreme cases, unexplained broken bones and dislocations could occur from rough handling during transfers, medicine administration, or repositioning. However, it’s also important to look out for small bruises, scrapes, and scratches, as they could also be one of your first indications that something is wrong. 

3. Withdrawn or Agitated Demeanor

In cases of nursing home abuse, some individuals will become withdrawn, lack interest in their favorite activities, or refuse to talk due to poor mental stimulation or fear of retaliation. It’s also possible that they become agitated, fearful, or anxious from experiencing emotional abuse and being ignored when they ask for help. If you notice that your loved one’s demeanor has suddenly changed without reasonable explanation, it’s important that you determine the root cause.

What You Can Do About It in Columbia, SC

If you believe that your loved one has been abused in a nursing home, it’s important to speak up. Communicating your concerns with authorities can start the healing process and help you and your loved one get justice for their mistreatment. There are a few different steps you can take. 

First and foremost, if you believe your loved one’s abuse is an immediate, life-threatening emergency, you should always call 911

If you’re unsure whether your loved one’s injuries, behavior, or condition stems from nursing home abuse, you can contact your state’s branch of Long-Term Care Ombudsman or Adult Protective Services. Representatives from these agencies can do welfare checks to see if your loved one is receiving the safe, kind care they need. 

Get Help From a Columbia SC Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer

After you report the case of abuse to proper authorities, it may be in your best interest to get help from a Columbia nursing home abuse lawyer. They’ll help you better understand how your loved one’s rights have been affected by their case. 

There are various federal and state laws regarding nursing home abuse that ensure your loved one has the right to a safe living space, the right to participate in decisions regarding their care, and the right to file a lawsuit if they are mistreated. A Columbia nursing home abuse lawyer can help navigate through those and help you get the justice and compensation your loved one deserves. 

If you suspect that someone you love is being abused or neglected in a nursing home or senior care facility, contact Bernstein & Berstein right away. We won’t stand for elder abuse. We can help you resolve the situation with legal means.

How to Bring a Personal Injury Claim Against Someone You Know in Columbia SC

How to Bring a Personal Injury Claim Against Someone You Know in Columbia SC 4

If you’ve suffered a personal injury, you have a right to expect compensation from the party responsible for your injuries — but that process can get a little complicated if the responsible party is someone you know.

Especially if it’s a friend or family member, bringing a lawsuit against someone you know can come with additional emotional challenges. From a trusted Columbia, SC law firm, here’s some information on if it’s worth it, what to do, and how to make the process easier for yourself. 

Is It Worth It to Bring a Personal Injury Suit Against Someone I Know?

You may be wondering if getting personal injury compensation is worth the risk of harming your relationship. You may choose to do a cost/benefit analysis of things like the extent of your injuries and the conditions of your relationship to help you decide. Ultimately, this is a decision you’ll have to make for yourself

However, to help you make an informed decision, we can provide you with some more detail on filing personal injury claims. First and foremost, you should know that if your injury was caused by another party’s negligence, it’s your right to file a personal injury claim or lawsuit. Second, you should know the possible damages you may be entitled to, including:

  • Relief from medical expenses 
  • Relief from rehabilitation expenses
  • Compensation for pain and suffering 
  • Reimbursement for lost wages from short or long-term disability

Tips For Filing a Personal Injury Suit Against Someone You Know in Columbia SC

If you’ve made the decision to file a personal injury suit against someone you know, you want to make sure you do it as effectively and with as little emotional damage as possible. Here are a few tips you can follow to help minimize some of the emotional aspects of the process. 

1. Don’t Wait to File Your Personal Injury Claim

It’s better to file a personal injury lawsuit in Columbia, SC sooner rather than later. Filing quickly is important for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Statute of limitations – There’s a time limit for filing in every state, known as a statute of limitations. In South Carolina, you generally have two to three years before you can no longer file your claim, and the clock starts on the day your incident occurred.
  • Clearer memory – If you begin the process soon, you’ll remember more of the key facts you need to provide evidence for your claim. You’ll be able to discuss the injury and the conditions that caused it, like names, dates, witnesses, weather, or other details with certainty. 
  • Reduced emotional suffering – You can minimize harm to the relationship with the responsible party if you start sooner. It’s better to file when the incident is relevant and in both parties’ minds. If you wait, it can be like reopening a sore wound and lead to more emotional distress.

2. Provide Strong Evidence and Facts

Every lawsuit needs strong evidence, but when there is a personal factor added to the case, it’s especially important to provide strong facts instead of just strong emotions. Have a detailed account of what occurred, what injuries were caused, and how the event affected you physically, psychologically, and financially. Using this information will help guide you toward winning the case without becoming overwhelmed with the feelings you may have about it.

3. Work with a Columbia Lawyer

While you can choose to legally represent yourself, the process is likely to go smoother if you work with a local Columbia, SC lawyer. Working with an experienced lawyer can help maximize your compensation, while also removing some of the personal, emotional aspects of your case. With a Columbia lawyer, you’ve got a local professional in your corner to advocate for your needs. 

Bernstein & Bernstein is a trusted, local Columbia, SC law firm that understands that every civil case is personal, and it can be difficult to navigate the process when feelings are involved. While we can’t promise that certain relationships won’t be complicated, we can help you pursue legal action so you can get what you deserve. Reach out to our team to get started.

How to Prepare for Your DUI Defense in Columbia, SC

DUI Defense

There are strong consequences for DUI charges in Columbia, SC, such as fines, jail time, loss of driver’s license, and limited job opportunities. If it isn’t your first offense, those consequences could be even more severe. 

In order to defend yourself well and minimize your penalties, you’ll want to prepare for your DUI defense in Columbia, SC appropriately. Here’s an overview of how the process works, what you’ll need, and how working with a Columbia DUI lawyer can help you achieve better results. 

DUI Defense Process in Columbia, SC

After you’re arrested for DUI in Columbia, SC, the defense process can take many months to years to complete. If it’s your first offense, the process will generally follow these steps:

Implied Consent Hearing

If you refused the breathalyzer (DataMaster) test, or if your test concluded a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% or higher, your driver’s license may be immediately suspended. You may request to challenge this with an Implied Consent Hearing. The hearing must be requested within 30 days after the incident, is independent of your DUI charge, and costs a $200 filing fee. 

Bench Trial

After your arrest, you’ll be scheduled for a bench trial. You’ll stand before a judge in court and either plead guilty or let the judge decide your case. 

However, it’s important to keep in mind that you have a constitutional right to a jury trial if you are accused of a crime. Rather than letting a judge decide, defendants usually prefer six jurors to make the decision, so depending on your situation, it may be best to request a jury trial. Upon request, your initial bench trial date will be rescinded and you will be put on the jury trial roster, meaning your court appearance and trial will usually be rescheduled until a later date. 

Preparation and Pre-trial

While you wait for your trial date, you’ll prepare your defense with your Columbia, SC DUI lawyer. There will be an investigation into your arrest records, sobriety tests, possible witnesses and other circumstantial evidence. 

Some courts allow pre-trial hearings, where you can meet with the arresting officer and/or prosecutor to negotiate with them before going to trial. In other courts, pre-trial hearings aren’t used, so you can call the officer or prosecutor to negotiate. If you are unable to reach a plea agreement, your defense continues to a jury trial.

Jury Trial

Your jury trial will start with jury selection and pre-trial motions, including potential motions to dismiss and motions to exclude evidence. After that, opening statements are made to the jury, and evidence is examined. After all witnesses have been called and closing arguments are made, the jury discusses the evidence until they reach a verdict. The jury trial process usually takes a full day. 

What You’ll Need for Your DUI Defense In Columbia, SC

To prepare yourself for your DUI defense in Columbia, SC, you should have and review the following things:

  • The police report
  • Breathalyzer test records
  • All videos — including dashcams, roadside, and Datamaster room videos
  • An honest, detailed account of the incident, with details like names, dates, times, places, witnesses, etc.
  • Information about any past offenses and penalties
  • An understanding of the law, your rights, and your responsibilities
  • An experienced Columbia DUI lawyer

How Working With a Columbia DUI Lawyer Can Help You

While you can choose to legally represent yourself, working with a DUI defense attorney in Columbia can help you achieve a better outcome. Whether that means clearing your charge completely or minimizing your penalties, they’ll advocate for your best interests. They’ll also be able to help by:

  • Having a clear understanding of the law, your rights, and your responsibilities
  • Investigating your arrest record thoroughly in order to find any flaws in the prosecution’s case or errors made by law enforcement
  • Helping the jury acknowledge the facts of the case, instead of being swayed by emotional tactics
  • Potentially reducing your charges and saving you from the harshest consequences

Facing a court appearance for your DUI? Face the courtroom with Bernstein & Bernstein at your side. Our experienced defense attorneys will personally assist and walk you through the process so you know what to expect and how we plan to defend your case. Contact our office to get started.

What to Do After a Car Accident in Columbia, SC

What to Do After a Car Accident in Columbia, SC 5

Car accidents happen every day, and they all result in varying degrees of damage or injury. While some accidents bring only minor injuries, others can completely alter the lives of those involved. 

If you’ve been injured in a car accident in Columbia, South Carolina, and surrounding areas, negotiating your personal injury case with an insurance company is a must. But that process can be challenging and stressful, especially if you’re still in treatment and recovery. 

In order to get all the details sorted, you may find it helpful to speak with a Columbia, SC attorney who specializes in car accidents. In the meantime, here’s a basic guide for what to do after a car accident in Columbia.

What Information Should I Document After a Car Accident in South Carolina?

After a car accident, you’ll want to document any important information that could help you prove your case and allow you to get a good settlement. Here’s a list of things to make sure you have:


If you are able, take pictures of the vehicles involved before they are removed from the road. Make sure you get pictures of your car, the other driver’s car, and any debris or marks still on the road. All of these pictures could help determine where the vehicles first made contact and who was at-fault. 

Police Report

Always call the police and get a police report filed. Some at-fault drivers will try to convince you that the police aren’t needed and they’ll personally handle everything without getting insurance involved. This usually won’t work, and they won’t reimburse you fairly. 

Contact Information

For future reference, you’ll want to get contact information from the other driver(s) and any witnesses involved. Make sure to get their name, address, phone number, license plate number, and insurance policy number.

Hospital or Doctor Records

If you’ve suffered an injury related to the accident, get the medical care you need and make sure the doctor accurately records all of your injuries. Do this as soon as possible, as some insurance companies may reduce the value of a personal injury claim if there is a gap in treatment. 

Expense Reports

Document all of the expenses you pay or owe related to the accident. This could be medical or chiropractic treatment and expenses, physical therapy, medications, lost wages, and/or travel expenses and mileage.

How Do I Determine Fault in a South Carolina Car Accident?

When it comes to car accidents, South Carolina is a fault state. This means that the driver determined to be at-fault is responsible for all the damages caused by the collision. In order to prove another drive was at-fault, you need to prove the following information:

  • Duty – The other driver had a duty to behave according to a certain standard of care.
  • Breach – The other driver violated that duty and standard of care.
  • Damages – There are injuries and/or damages caused by the breach of duty.
  • Causation – The damages you want reimbursement for were a direct result of the other driver’s negligence.

Negligence can be difficult to prove, especially if multiple drivers made mistakes. According to South Carolina law, there are different types of negligence:

  1. Negligence – The other driver failed to act like a reasonable person would have under the same or similar circumstances, thereby causing injury and damages. 
  2. Per se negligence – The other driver violated a statute, ordinance, or regulation and someone was hurt as a result.
  3. Modified comparative negligence – If you’re partially at-fault, but not more than 50%, you may still file a claim for compensation, but your reimbursement may be reduced by the percentage of fault assigned to you.

How Do I Pursue Legal Action After a Car Accident in South Carolina?

If you’d like to pursue legal action after a car accident in South Carolina, the statute of limitations (“SOL”)  generally allows you up to three years from the date of the accident to do so, however, in some circumstances the SOL is only two years. Regardless, you should check with a qualified attorney immediately to pursue and protect your claim. For injury and property damage cases, this clock starts running on the date of the accident. For a wrongful death claim, this clock generally starts running on the day of the victim’s death. 

Pursuing legal action can be a lot to manage on your own. Even if you think you have the knowledge to do it yourself, the law can throw curveballs at you. It’s best to get in touch with a local Columbia car accident lawyer.

What Are Mistakes to Avoid Making After a Car Accident in South Carolina?

In order to get a good settlement, there are some mistakes you’ll want to avoid making after a car accident. Here are a few of them to be aware of:

  • Don’t go without a police report. You need this documentation in order to get a reasonable insurance settlement, and anybody who tells you they’ll handle it personally probably won’t do it right. 
  • Don’t put off medical attention. The longer you wait, the less reimbursement money you may get for it. 
  • Don’t accept a settlement offer from the at-fault driver’s insurance company too soon. It’s best to wait at least a month or more after the accident to ensure you don’t have any lingering injuries that should be accounted for. Obviously do not settle the claim if you are still treating and you do not know what your future medical treatment and expenses will be.Don’t write about the accident on social media. Sometimes defense lawyers will hunt on social media for something to use against you. 

If you’ve been in an auto accident, it can be difficult to remain calm and be able to collect all the information you need for your insurance, car repairs, and/or personal injury claim. Bernstein & Bernstein has experienced, local Columbia, South Carolina car accident lawyers ready to help you. Give us a call or contact us online and we’ll help you through the process.

Consequences of a DUI in Columbia, SC and How to Avoid Them

Consequences of a DUI in Columbia, SC and How to Avoid Them 6

Driving under the influence (DUI) can result in serious repercussions. Specifically, some common consequences of DUI charges in Columbia, South Carolina include:

  • Fines
  • Jail time
  • License suspension or revocation
  • Raised car insurance rates
  • Court-mandated community service
  • Permanent blot on legal record
  • Limited job opportunities

However, depending on a variety of factors, these consequences can vary in terms of degree, length, and dollar amount. This is why we always recommend speaking with a DUI defense attorney in Columbia, South Carolina for help. 

Below, we’ll take a look at how DUI consequences are determined and how to avoid getting harsher penalties. 

Tests to Determine DUI Consequences

Officials use a variety of tests to determine whether to charge you with driving under the influence, and to what degree. These tests are split into two categories: 1) Field Sobriety Tests (FST) and 2) Blood Alcohol Concentration (“BAC”) tests (breath, blood and/or urine tests)

Field Sobriety Tests.

Law enforcement officers use FST to determine if there is probable cause to charge you with a DUI. Your FST usually will include at least three standardized tests, and they must all be videotaped. In Columbia, South Carolina, you may refuse to participate in FST, but you could still be arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence. 

Standard FST tests include: 

  • Horizontal gaze nystagmus (“HGN”) test – The officer moves an object in front of your face while you follow it with your eyes. The officer notes any unusual behavior.
  • Walk the line test – While counting your steps, you take 10 (or the amount the officer instructs) heel-to-toe steps, turn around, and walk back. The officer notes any unsuccessful steps. The officer also will write down anything you do outside of his specific instructions.
  • Stand on one leg – You stand on one leg and count to a certain number as instructed by the officer. The officer will note any problems you have completing the task and anything you do different from his exact instructions

The results of your FST may determine if you’ll be asked to take a Breathalyzer test. However, even if you do walk straight and stand on one leg for 30 seconds, the officer may note a failure to follow instructions or other factors in placing you under arrest for suspicion of driving under the influence 

Datamaster Test

The Datamaster is the only breath testing device that provides court-admissible evidence in South Carolina. It’s a desktop device that measures alcohol content in your breath. You must first be offered a breath test to determine your BAC. If your BAC is at or above .08%, there is an inference that you are  driving under the influence of alcohol. If you register between a .05 and .08, you still may be charged with DUI and the BAC may be considered along with other evidence of guilt or innocence. If you register below a .05, it is conclusively presumed that you are not under the influence of alcohol.

Blood Test

In some circumstances, such as if you are physically unable to provide a breath sample, you may be asked to provide a blood sample to measure your BAC.

Urine Test

When the officer has reasonable suspicion that you may be under the influence of drugs other than alcohol, or under a combination of drugs and alcohol, the officer may order that a urine sample be collected for testing.

Different DUI Consequences in Columbia, SC, Based on Circumstance

DUI consequences vary depending on a multitude of factors, including number of prior offenses, related injuries, and the BAC of the offender. Here’s a look at the differing consequences in Columbia, South Carolina:

First DUI Offense

For  a first DUI offense, you’ll face a fine of at least $400 (actual fines are much higher than listed because of court costs and other fees) or imprisonment for 48 hours – 30 days. However, if your BAC is .16 or above, you will be fined $1,000 or imprisoned 30 – 90 days. The court may also require the installation of an ignition interlock device to prevent you from operating your vehicle under the influence. The installation is at your expense. 

Second DUI Offense

For a  second DUI offense, you’ll face a fine between $2,100 and $5,100 AND imprisonment for 5 days – 1 year. However, if your BAC is between .10 and .16, the fine is $2,500 to $5,500 AND imprisonment for 30 days – 2 years. If your BAC is .16 or higher, the fine is $3,000 – $6,000 AND imprisonment for 90 days – 3 years. Your driver’s license will be suspended and .when you are eligible to get a new driver’s license, you will be required to install an ignition interlock device.. The installation is at your expense.

Third DUI Offense

For your third DUI offense, you’ll face a fine between $3,800 and $6,300 AND imprisonment for 60 days – 3 years. However, if your BAC is between .10 and .16, the fine is $5,000 to $7,500 AND imprisonment for 90 days – 4 years. If your BAC is .16 or higher, the fine is $7,500 – $10,000 AND imprisonment for 6 months – 5 years. Your driver’s license will be suspended and when you are eligible to get a new driver’s license, you will be required to install an ignition interlock   The installation is at your expense.

Fourth DUI Offense

For your fourth DUI offense, you’ll face imprisonment for 1-5 years. However, if your BAC is between .10 and .16, you must be imprisoned for 2 – 6 years. If your BAC is .16 or higher, you must be imprisoned 3 – 7 years. Your driver’s license will be suspended.  The court may also suspend your license, require you to surrender your vehicle registration and license plates, and/or require the installation of an ignition interlock device to prevent you from operating your vehicle under the influence. The installation is at your expense.

Felony DUI Offense

If you are driving under the influence and you cause great bodily injury or death to another person, you can be charged with Felony DUI

If you’re convicted of a Felony DUI that results in great bodily injury in Columbia, SC, the consequences are:

  • Fine between $5,100 and $10,100
  • Imprisonment for 30 days – 15 years
  • Driver’s license suspension during the term of imprisonment plus three years
  • Interlock device for 3 years

If you’re convicted of a Felony DUI that results in death in Columbia, SC , the consequences are:

  • Fine between $10,1000 and $25,100
  • Imprisonment for 1 – 25 years
  • Driver’s license suspension during term of imprisonment plus five years
  • Interlock device for 5 years

Underage DUI Offense

South Carolina has a Zero Tolerance Policy for underage drinking and driving, which means minors can be charged with an Underage DUI after just one drink. 

If you’re under 21 and have a BAC of .02-.08%, the consequences are:

First Underage DUI Offense in South Carolina

  • Driver’s license suspension for three months
  • Driver’s license suspension for six months if you refuse a chemical test

Second Underage DUI Offense in South Carolina

  • Driver’s license suspension for six months
  • Driver’s license suspension for one year if you refuse a chemical test

If you’re under 21 and have a BAC of .08% or higher, the consequences are:

First Offense

  • Driver’s license suspension for six months
  • $400 fine
  • 48 hours – 30 days of jail time
  • 48 hours of public service

These consequences get harsher with more charges. 

How to Avoid Harsh Consequences of DUIs

The best way to avoid harsh DUI consequences is to hire a local Columbia DUI defense attorney. Once hired, they’ll examine the handling of your arrest, results of chemical tests, and accuracy of officer recollections in order to help the court and/or jury understand all evidence. 

In many cases, Columbia DUI defense attorneys can help you reduce your drunk driving charge.

If you’ve been charged with a DUI, contact Bernstein & Bernstein via phone call or our website contact page. As experienced defense attorneys, we can help you navigate the process of court appearances and defending your case.

5 Things to Know Before You File a Personal Injury Case in Columbia SC


If you’re recovering from an injury, trying to afford medical bills, or dealing with the stress of your situation, pursuing a personal injury case in Columbia, SC may seem like an impossible task. You may not be sure how long it will take, how much it will cost, how much you can earn, or even if you have a case. Let’s talk about 5 things you should know before you file a personal injury case in Columbia, SC.

#1 Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit is Your Right

Personal injury lawsuits are meant to protect you and your future. If your injury was caused by another party’s negligence — a lack of care for your safety that would have prevented the injury — you may be entitled to damages. Damages can provide relief from medical expenses, compensation for pain and suffering, or reimburse lost wages from a short-term disability or long-term diminished earnings.

A Columbia lawyer can help make sure you receive what you’re entitled to, either through a trial or settlement out of court.

#2 A Columbia Lawyer Can Help You Recover More

People who work with a personal injury lawyer are likely to recover more than someone who goes through the process alone. It pays to work with a professional who understands personal injury cases. They know what you need to support your claim, how to present your case in court, how to negotiate in your best interests, and what qualifies as an adequate settlement. 

Trying to go through the process alone can be intimidating, especially if you’re still recovering from an injury. Insurance companies will be out to save money for the companies they represent and not looking out for you. A dedicated personal injury lawyer, on the other hand, will always be on your side. They will take the time to hear and understand your side of the story, and advocate for you to the court.

#3 Don’t Wait to File Your Personal Injury Suit in Columbia, SC

If you’re thinking about filing a personal injury lawsuit in Columbia, SC, the sooner you file, the better. There is a time limit in every state to file, known as a statute of limitations. In South Carolina, you generally have two or three years before you can no longer bring your claim. The clock starts on the day of your incident. Since it can take time to gather documentation and prepare your case, it’s better to start as soon as you can by working with a local Columbia, SC lawyer.

Also, the sooner you begin the process, the more likely you are to remember key information about the injury and the conditions that caused it, such as names, dates, witnesses, weather, or other details. Over time, memories can become muddled and it can be difficult to pursue a claim, even with an excellent lawyer representing you.

#4 It Won’t Cost You Anything Up Front

Most personal injury lawyers in Columbia, SC work on a contingency basis. Their fee is contingent on the outcome of the claim or lawsuit. This means that you don’t have to pay to work with an attorney upfront. Their earnings will come out of what you settle for or are awarded in the case. Contingency also works in your favor because you can trust that your lawyer is motivated to earn you top dollar. If you hire our firm, you will not pay anything unless we recover money for you.

#5 Personal Injury Cases in Columbia, SC Can Take Time

Personal injury cases are rarely a quick process, but it is worth it if compensation for your injury is justified. Before you file your claim, expect the process to take at least several months, but maybe even one or more years to complete, depending on the complexity of the case and severity of your injuries. 

It’s not uncommon for insurance companies to extend the case just to see if you will get impatient. You and your attorney share the same goal, so you can trust they are working to conclude the case as quickly and efficiently as possible, but they won’t encourage you to settle for less than your claim is worth.

Ready to pursue your personal injury suit? Trust Bernstein & Bernstein to help you get what you deserve. Your local Columbia, SC lawyers, we’re experienced in claims just like yours and are ready to earn you the peace and relief you need after your traumatic experience. Give us a call or reach out to our team online today.