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Referring medical negligence and personal injuries cases to Law Centre (Montague Court)

Law Centre (Montague Court) is a full-time law centre operating in Dublin which specialises in medical negligence and personal injuries cases. While, like all law centres, it may accept and process applications for legal services, the majority of cases are referred to it from other law centres.

Referring medical negligence and personal injuries cases
The following procedures should be followed where referring cases to Law Centre (Montague Court):

Procedure 6.4  - Referring a medical negligence case

  1. Applicants should complete an application form and be means tested at the law centre at which they apply and a determination should be made as to their financial eligibility.
  2. Applicants should be informed, in the usual way, if they are financially eligible and what their legal advice / potential legal aid contribution has been assessed at.
  3. Applicants should not be placed on the applications record. The workflow APP04.Refer to Medical Negligence Unit should be started.
  4. Law centres should complete the “applicant’s checklist” in this Chapter to form part of the referral to Montague Court. The complete file, to include all means test documentation, should be forwarded to Montague Court.
  5. Applicants should be furnished with the standard letter, information note and FOI letter in relation to their medical records.
  6. If it becomes immediately apparent to the law centre that the case is one where there is a possibility of it becoming statute barred, immediate steps should be taken to notify Montague Court via email to Law Centre - Montague Court. It is crucial in such circumstances that the applicant prepares a Statement of Facts with particular emphasis on the date of the incident or the date of knowledge. The Statement of Facts preferably, is to be attached to the application form before forwarding documentation to Montague Court.
  7. The application and financial eligibility determination together with all supporting documentation should be forwarded to Montague Court as soon as possible.
  8. The case on EOS should be transferred to Montague Court on EOS.

Procedure 6.5  - Referring a personal injuries case

  1. Applicants should complete an application form and be means tested at the law centre at which they apply and a determination should be made as to their financial eligibility.
  2. Applicants should be informed, in the usual way, if they are financially eligible and what their legal advice / potential legal aid contribution has been assessed at.
  3. Applicants should not be placed on the applications record. The workflow APP008.Refer to Personal Injuries Unit should be started.
  4. The applicant should be sent the letter below with an Information Gathering – Personal Injuries form (see Chapter 3) attached. Both of these are available as suggested templates in the APP008 workflow.
  5. If it becomes immediately apparent to the law centre that the case is one where there is a possibility of it becoming statute barred, immediate steps should be taken to notify Montague Court via email to Law Centre - Montague Court
  6. The physical application and financial eligibility determination together with all supporting documentation should be forwarded to Law Centre (Montague Court) as soon as possible.  
  7. The case on EOS should be transferred to Montague Court on EOS.
     

Law centres are asked to make their facilities available to staff in the event that the Law Centre (Montague Court) deem it appropriate to see an applicant in a location that is more convenient to them.

Transferring the case on EOS to Law Centre (Montague Court)

Cases referred to should be transferred on EOS to Law Centre (Montague Court).

Procedure 6.6  - Transferring a case to Montague Court

  1. Click the twisty beside the case number
  2. Click the link “Transfer case to law centre”
  3. Choose the following:
    1. Law Centre: Montague Court
    2. Resource: A member of staff (other than a solicitor)
    3. Reason: Enter an appropriate reason
    4. Click the Transfer Case button

Transferring a case screen grab

The case should be transferred to a member of staff who is not a solicitor. A staff member in Montague Court will allocate the solicitor to the case. The reason for this is that EOS will not allocate the Solicitor role to the receiving member of staff.

Statute-barred cases

In circumstances where it is evident that the Statute of Limitations has expired then the applicant should be informed at the point of entry i.e. the law centre, that any potential action is statute barred. The law centre is at liberty, at all times, to contact Montague Court prior to advising the applicant, in such circumstances.

Referral letter to applicant

The appropriate letter on the next page should be sent to applicants in medical negligence and personal injuries cases, informing them that their application has been referred to Law Centre (Montague Court). The “Note for the Information of the Applicant” on the following page should also be enclosed as well as the sample FOI letter.

APP04.Referral letter to Law Centre (Montague Court) – medical negligence
APP04.Refer to Medical Negligence Unit workflow

PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL

Mr. John Smith

1 Main Street

Ballymore

Co. Dublin                                                                                1 September 2016

RE: APPLICATION FOR LEGAL SERVICES

Dear

We note that you have applied for legal services in relation to a potential medical negligence matter. We confirm that you have been financially assessed and found to satisfy the financial criteria for legal services. You will be required to pay an advice contribution of €XX on or before your first appointment with a solicitor.

Private solicitors will often agree to take on medical negligence cases on the basis that they will not charge you unless a settlement to your benefit or judgement in your favour is obtained (in which case they will generally take their costs out of the settlement or judgement and will agree this in advance). You should arrange, at the earliest opportunity, to visit a private solicitor and ask them to take on your case on that basis. If (s)he refuses to do so you should obtain a letter or other evidence to that effect and visit a second private solicitor and repeat the process. If after this a private solicitor will not take on your case on this basis you should retain any letters or evidence you have obtained and bring them with you to your first consultation.

As medical negligence is a specialist area and with a view to improving the quality of its services to clients, the Legal Aid Board (“the Board”) has set up a  specialist service for cases of this nature. The service is based at 7-11 Montague Court, Montague Street, Dublin D02 FT96 and can be contacted by telephone at 01 4776208. We are referring your application forms to the specialist service and they will be in contact with you on receipt of your application.

In order for the Board to assess the merits of your case, you are required to provide the following documents.

1.         A written Statement of Facts setting out what happened to you and why you believe it is the responsibility of the hospital / doctor / medical personnel. In your Statement please specify the dates of your treatment.

2.         All of the relevant medical records.

3.         Where applicable a death certificate or the inquest file and/or the post mortem results.

For your information we attach an information note which provides you with information in relation to the time limit for taking cases against hospitals or medical personnel and how you should obtain your medical records.

Yours sincerely,

______________

Jane Jones

Law Centre (__________)

Note for the information of the applicant in medical negligence cases
 

You have applied to the Legal Aid Board (“the Board”) for services in relation a possible action against a hospital / medical personnel. There are a couple of issues that we wish to draw to your attention that are specific to cases of this nature.

The first is that proceedings for personal injury, and medical negligence cases come within that category, must be instituted within two years of the incident giving rise to the injury, or two years from the date the person became or ought to have become aware of their case. There is a considerable amount of preparatory work involved, which may include obtaining an expert medical opinion from abroad and/or an opinion from a barrister and also as the Legal Aid Board will need time to consider any application for a legal aid certificate to issue court proceedings on your behalf. Accordingly it is critical that you note and understand the time limits, referred to above and that you act promptly at all times. You should note in this regard that the Legal Aid Board may not be in a position to provide legal services where an application is made too close to the expiration of the two year period.

The second issue is the need to obtain full and complete copies of your medical records from the hospital, GP or institution that treated you. If you have not already got those medical records you should make a request in writing to the relevant hospital / Institution and you should make sure that you state in your letter that the request is being made on foot of the Freedom of Information Act 2014. The letter should be addressed to the hospital’s Freedom of Information Officer. You should make a simple written request to your GP for any records that he or she has. It will assist your solicitor considerably if you can make those records available to the Law Centre (Montague Court) before your first appointment with them. If you have the records you should contact Montague Court prior to your appointment with a view to arranging their delivery to them.

For your convenience we are furnishing you with a sample Freedom of Information letter that you should complete and send to the Freedom of Information Officer in the relevant hospital or institution.

If you have to obtain an inquest file and/or the post mortem results or a death certificate the following procedures apply:

You may apply in writing for a copy of an inquest file and/or the post mortem results from the local Coroner's Office. You should include the name of the deceased, the date of death, the hospital involved (if any) and the date of the inquest.

You may apply for a death certificate to the appropriate Registrar in any Registrar's District or you can apply to the General Register Office in Roscommon.

Small fees are payable in each case.

Coroner details are available at: http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Pages/Coroner_details

Registrar details are available at: http://www.groireland.ie/

Sample FOI letter to be sent by applicant to hospital.
APP04.Refer to Medical Negligence Unit workflow

Medical negligence cases only.  NB The below letter should be sent by the applicant and not the law centre. Therefore it should go in the client’s own name and address, and must not be sent on law centre headed notepaper.

                                                                                                       Mr John Smith

                                                                                                1 Main Street

                                                                                                Ballymore

                                                                                                Co. Dublin

Dr Jane Jones

Freedom of Information Officer

Dublin Hospital

North Road

Dublin D01 XY12

                                                                                                1st September 2016

Re: John Smith of 1 Main Street, Ballymore, Co. Dublin

Formerly of 1 New Street, Ballybeg, Co. Kildare A12 BC34.

Date of Birth: 1 January 1970.

Dear Dr Jones,

I wish to make an application for all of my medical records in connection with my admission/treatment at Dublin Hospital between the dates of 1st January 2009 and 7th January 2009.

I am making this application under the Freedom of Information Act 2014.

In relation to my medical records I require a complete and full copy of the following where appropriate:

  1. A&E Records/Triage Records
  2. Doctors Clinical Notes
  3. Nursing Notes/Kardex
  4. Blood Pressure/ECG Tracings
  5. Temperature, Pulse and Respiration Observation Charts
  6. Fluid Intake and Output Charts
  7. Drug Administration Records
  8. Surgeons Operative Notes
  9. Anaesthetist’s Records
  10. Post Operative Recovery Room Records
  11. Pathology and all Laboratory Test Reports
  12. All Radiological Imaging to Include X-Ray’s, Ultrasounds, MRI Scans, Films and Reports
  13. Discharge Summary
  14. Consultant’s Reports, Correspondence, Letters to other Treating Doctors/Hospitals

Please acknowledge receipt of this letter.

Yours sincerely,

______________

John Smith

Checklist
Medical negligence cases only.  The below checklist should be printed out (from the Documents                    tab in EOS) and placed on the inside cover of any medical negligence applications file.

Applicant Name:           

DOB:                           

Details of alleged medical negligence:  

Institutions/Medical Professionals etc:

Dates (of injury/treatment etc) i.e. statute of limitations info:

Previous LAB application re this matter:  Yes / No

If yes details:

Has the applicant had previous solicitor involvement in this matter:  Yes / No

If yes solicitor details incl fees outstanding/ lien on file:

Court Proceedings: Yes / No

If yes details of Proceedings:

Applicant provided with standard letter, information note and FOI letter re medical records. Reference the information note in relation to the statute of limitations and the limitation period and how to address obtaining medical records:

Other:

Date:

APP008.Referral letter to Law Centre (Montague Court) – personal injuries
APP008.Refer to Personal Injuries Unit workflow

PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL

Mr. John Smith

1 Main Street

Ballymore

Co. Dublin                                                                                1 September 2015

RE: APPLICATION FOR LEGAL SERVICES

Dear

We note that you have applied for legal services in relation to a potential personal injuries matter. We confirm that you have been financially assessed and found to satisfy the financial criteria for legal services. You will be required to pay an advice contribution of €XX on or before your first appointment with a solicitor.

[For prospective plaintiffs only: Private solicitors will often agree to take on personal injuries cases on the basis that they will not charge you unless a settlement to your benefit or judgement in your favour is obtained (in which case they will generally take their costs out of the settlement or judgement and will agree this in advance). You should arrange, at the earliest opportunity, to visit a private solicitor and ask them to take on your case on that basis. If (s)he refuses to do so you should obtain a letter or other evidence to that effect and visit a second private solicitor and repeat the process. If after this a private solicitor will not take on your case on this basis you should retain any letters or evidence you have obtained and bring them with you to your first consultation.]

With a view to improving the quality of its services to clients, the Legal Aid Board has a specialised service that specialises in personal injury cases and your application has been referred to that service.

We are attaching an Information Gathering form which you should complete at your earliest opportunity and return to the service at Montague Court, 7-11 Montague Street, Dublin D02 FT96. They will be in contact with you on receipt of your application, but if you have any queries in the meantime they can be contacted by telephone at 01 4776208.

Yours sincerely,

______________

Jane Jones

Law Centre (__________)

Queries in relation to medical negligence cases

Law Centre (Montague Court) will discuss with other law centres any queries the law centre may have with regard to medical negligence cases retained in the centre or in relation to new applications. It should be noted in this regard that it is not anticipated that medical negligence cases would be retained in other law centres. 

Up-to-date contact details for the Law Centre (Montague Court) are available on the Telephone Directory