Veterinary Contract Lawyer: Veterinary Contract Review for Employment Contracts
Chelle Law provides Veterinarian Contract Review for veterinary associates entertaining a new job or renegotiating an existing veterinary employment agreement. You have worked hard to develop your skills and deserve to advance in your professional career with a fair market value agreement.
So, when you are about to enter a veterinary agreement, getting veterinary agreement services before signing is vitally important.
I needed review of a medical employment contract. Rob Chelle and his staff responded quickly and within a week, I had my contract reviewed and a personal phone call with Rob. He was very accommodating and addressed all my questions/concerns. He even took the time to explain some of the specific legal verbiage. After our discussion, he sent an outline of our discussion points that I can take straight to my employer. I would strongly recommend!
The terms of the agreement will impact your practice and your day-to-day life.
Attorney, Robert Chelle, can analyze your agreement, identify the areas you could improve, and help you negotiate the best veterinary contract possible. Each veterinarian that requests Mr. Robert Chelle’s expert assistance receives:
- Available in any state
- Flat-rate pricing, with no hidden costs
- Review of your proposed employment agreement or agreements
- Phone consultation reviewing the contract term by term
- Follow up with a review of the needed clarifications
Do Vets Need Malpractice Insurance?
Yes, veterinarians should obtain malpractice insurance to safeguard their practice and reputation. As veterinary professionals are responsible for the health and well-being of their patients, they may face potential claims of negligence, errors, or omissions from pet owners. Malpractice insurance, also known as veterinary liability insurance, provides essential protection against these claims, covering legal defense costs, settlement negotiations, and awarded damages. To ensure comprehensive coverage tailored to their specific needs, veterinarians are advised to consult with an experienced insurance broker familiar with the veterinary field, who can guide them through the process of selecting the most suitable policy, ultimately providing peace of mind while delivering high-quality care to their patients.
Veterinary Liability Insurance
Veterinary liability insurance, also known as veterinary malpractice insurance, is a specialized form of coverage tailored to protect veterinarians and their practices from potential claims arising from allegations of negligence, errors, or omissions in the treatment of animals. This insurance safeguards veterinary professionals from financial losses and legal expenses in case a pet owner claims their pet was harmed due to the veterinarian’s actions or inactions. The coverage typically includes costs for legal defense, settlement negotiations, and any awarded damages. It is essential for veterinarians to obtain a suitable veterinary liability insurance policy to mitigate risks associated with their profession, ensuring peace of mind while providing high-quality care to their patients.
Veterinary Contract Negotiations
Veterinary contracts are a pervasive and obligatory part of every job search for veterinarians. Well-drafted veterinary contracts help enumerate the responsibilities of the involved parties. They also divide liabilities, protect legal rights, and ensure future relationship statuses.
These touchstones are even more crucial when applying their roles to the case of a veterinarian employed by a veterinary hospital. Or those employed in corporate-owned group, or private veterinary practice.
While veterinary contract drafting and negotiation can be long and arduous, searching for quality legal representation is a must. It ensures your rights are protected before you start your new job and sign a new veterinary contract.
The present-day conclusion is simple:
Veterinarians should only sign a veterinary contract with the agreement reviewed by legal counsel.
For example, concerns include:
- License defense
- Veterinary board policies
- Employee salary increases
- Attorneys fees
- Salary negotiations upon expiration on the associate agreement
- AVMA fees, etc.
Veterinary Practice Contract Checklist
Every veterinary employment contract is unique. However, every veterinary contract for health care professionals should have several essential terms.
If the agreement does not spell out these essential terms, disputes can arise. Especially when there is a disagreement between the employer and employee as to the details of the specific term.
Let’s say, the vet expects to work at the practice Monday through Thursday. While the employer expects the provider to work Monday through Friday. But the specific workdays are absent from the agreement. Who prevails?
Spelling out the details of your job is crucial to avoid conflicts during the term of your employment.
Below is a checklist of essential terms that veterinary contracts should contain (and a brief explanation of each term):
- Practice Services Offered: What are the veterinarians’ clinical patient care duties? Are you given time for administrative tasks?
- Patient Care Schedule: What days and hours per week are you expected to provide patient care and have patient contact?
- Locations: Which facilities will they schedule you to provide care at (outpatient clinic, surgical sites, in-patient services, etc.)?
- Outside Activities: Can you pursue moonlighting or locum tenens opportunities? Do you need permission from the employer before you take those medicine-related positions?
- Veterinary License: Will the veterinary practice offer reimbursement for your license or assist in license defense for the veterinary board?
- Practice Call Schedule: How often are you on call (after-hours office call, hospital call (if applicable)?
- Electronic Medical Records (EMR): What EMR system are they using? Will you receive training before providing care?
- Base Compensation: What is the annual base salary? What is the pay period frequency? Does the base compensation increase over the term of the agreement?
- Productivity Compensation: If there is productivity compensation, how is it calculated (wRVU, net collections, patient encounters, etc.)?
- Practice Benefits Summary: Are standard benefits offered: health, vision, dental, life, disability, retirement, etc.?
- Paid Time Off: How much time off do they offer? What is the split between vacation, sick days, CME attendance, and holidays?
- Continuing Medical Education (CME): What is the annual allowance for CME expenses, and how much time off do they offer?
- Dues and Fees: Which business expenses are covered (licensing, DEA registration, privileging)?
- Relocation Assistance: Is relocation assistance offered? What are the repayment obligations if the agreement terminates before the expiration of the initial term?
- Signing Bonus: Is an employee signing bonus offered? When is it paid?
- Professional Liability Insurance: What professional liability insurance do they offer: claims made, occurrence, self-insurance?
- Tail Insurance: If tail insurance is necessary, who will pay for it when the agreement terminates?
- Term: What is the length of the initial term? Does the agreement automatically renew after the initial term?
- For Cause Termination: What are the grounds for immediate termination for cause?
- Without Cause Termination: How much notice is required for either party to terminate the agreement without cause?
- Practice Post-Termination Payment Obligations: Will you receive production bonuses after the agreement terminates?
- Non-Compete: How long does the non-compete last, and what is the prohibited geographic scope?
- Non-Solicitation: How long does it last, and does it cover employees, patients, and business associates?
- Notice: How is the notice given? Contact via email, US mail, etc.?
- Veterinary Practice Assignment: Can the employer assign the agreement?
- Alternative Dispute Resolution: If a conflict arises, will mediation or arbitration be utilized?
Breaking an Agreement with a Non Compete
People initially considered veterinary non-compete contracts as restraints of trade. Thus, were invalid on the grounds of public policy at common law. However, the rule of reason became the basis for upholding many restraints on trade, incident to veterinary contracts now.
Restrictive covenants between veterinarians not to compete after the employment termination are generally enforceable as long as they are reasonable.
However, there are a few states which prohibit veterinary non-compete contracts. Please check your state laws for veterinary non-compete contracts to see the specific rules for your state.
The general test for reasonableness of non-competition agreements holds that on termination of employment, consider a covenant that restrains an employee from competing with his former employer reasonable if:
- The restraint is not more than required for protecting the employer.
- It does not inflict any untold of hardships to the employer, and
- The restraint is not injurious to the public.
For instance, a non-competition clause in Ohio was unreasonable when the state noted that the provider’s sub-specialty was uncommon. That it would be harsh if the employer enforced the restrictive covenant. The hospital where they precluded him from practicing was only one of the few institutions in the area where he could practice his specialty.
Thus, in Ohio, one can consider covenants restraining providers from competing with their employer on contract termination as unreasonable if:
- It inflicts untold hardship on the veterinarian.
- It is injurious to the public.
- If the demand for the veterinarian’s medical expertise is vital for the community people, and
- If the veterinarian’s services are essential for the health, care, and treatment of the public.
However, in general, non-competition clauses for veterinarians are enforceable as long as they protect some of the employer’s legitimate interests.
DVM Employees Concerns
Veterinarians face many risks when they take veterinary contract matters into their own hands.
Veterinary contract terms are highly negotiable and significantly impact professional life, lifestyle, family, and the future.
There are many crucial veterinary contract terms and clauses which can present new complex and diverse issues for any Vet, including:
- Unfavorable call schedules
- No assistance in license defense
- Small Production Bonuses
- Lack of Benefits
- Not enough paid-time-off
- Not enough vacation time
- Unfair Non-Compete
- Inadequate professional liability coverage
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Veterinary Contracts Lawyer
When an experienced attorney analyzes your veterinary contract, you will find that the financial benefits outweigh the review’s cost. Leave it to the experts. If you need assistance with a veterinary agreement or contract analysis, schedule a Veterinarian Agreement Review with Chelle Law today!