Is There a Cooling-Off Period for Physician Contracts?

Q. I have been offered a contract for my services with a very short acceptance period — only five business days. I will not have time to have my legal counsel review its terms. Does Texas law have a “cooling off” period for contracts that would allow me to cancel the contract even after I sign it?

A. No, unfortunately, absent some other legal defect in the contract, a professional contract, once executed, is binding. This applies to contracts for employment, to sell a practice, and so forth.

It is always prudent to make the time to have legal counsel review such agreements. Texas does not have a general cooling off period that would allow a physician to undo his or her agreement and “rescind” the contract for professional transactions. To rescind means to unilaterally unmake a contract so it is as if its terms never applied.

There are state and federal cooling off periods for certain consumer sales. Under both state and federal laws, for a transaction to be considered a consumer sale it must be to an individual who seeks or acquires real property, money or other personal property, services, or credit for personal, family, or household purposes. So, this means contracts for professional purposes do not enjoy the cooling off protection. Also, state and federal laws require the transaction to occur somewhere besides the seller’s place of business for the rescission rule to apply.

There are exceptions even to this consumer protection. More information on your rights as a consumer is available from the Texas Office of Attorney General and the Federal Trade Commission.

Published March 28, 2012 


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