All franchise opportunities present certain legal issues. From your obligation to pay royalties to the franchisor’s right to terminate your franchise agreement, virtually all aspects of the franchise relationship have legal implications. In certain sectors, the nature of the business can give rise to legal concerns as well. Senior care is one of these sectors.
What are Some Potential Legal Risks for Senior Care Franchise Owners?
Whether you are considering an in-home care franchise, a medical staffing franchise, a franchise for a skilled nursing facility, or any other type of franchise focused on serving the elderly, it is important to have a clear understanding of the potential legal risks involved. Along with conducting your due diligence and negotiating your franchise agreement, this also means addressing the legal issues associated with:
1. Lease Negotiations
If you will be leasing a senior care facility or administrative office space, it will be important to put as much effort into negotiating your lease as you put into negotiating your franchise agreement. Similar to franchise agreements, commercial lease agreements are often heavily one-sided; and, in addition to ensuring that you can use the space as you intend, you will also need to make sure that you have adequate protections so that you can remain in the space throughout the term of your franchise.
2. Hiring and Employment
When hiring people who will be caring for seniors or who will have access to seniors’ places of residence, conducting adequate screening and background checks takes on heightened importance. As a franchisee, you are responsible for your business’s compliance with state and federal employment laws (including wage, hour and anti-discrimination laws) as well.
3. Medicare and Medicaid Compliance
Will you be billing Medicare or Medicaid (or both) for services and supplies delivered to your patients? The Medicare and Medicaid programs are subject to strict and voluminous regulations, and billing mistakes can potentially lead to civil (or even criminal) law enforcement action.
4. Patient Care Plans
Most, if not all, states have laws requiring nursing homes and other senior care providers to prepare and implement care plans that are customized to each individual patient’s medical needs. If you (or your staff) do not adequately follow patients’ care plans, this too could result in legal action against your senior care franchise.
5. Allegations of Neglect and Abuse
Litigation involving allegations of neglect and abuse against senior care providers has become prevalent in recent years. As studies reveal that far too many seniors are falling victim to neglect and abuse in skilled nursing facilities and while receiving care at home, care providers are increasingly being targeted in lawsuits filed by patients and their families.
Discuss Your Senior Care Franchise Opportunity in Confidence
Franchise lawyer Jeffrey M. Goldstein has more than 30 years of experience representing franchisees, and he has represented senior care franchisees in franchise agreement negotiations and litigation nationwide. If you are thinking about buying a senior care franchise and would like more information about the legal risks involved, you can call 202-293-3947 or contact our firm online for a free initial consultation.