Tattoos are becoming more and more commonplace, but you can't get one without accepting a certain amount of risk. What happens if something goes wrong, however? Are you able to sue for a bad tattoo? 

Implied Assumption Of Risk

Over the centuries, the devices have changed but the process of getting a tattoo has stayed more or less the same: ink is scratched into your skin using a needle or other sharp, narrow tool, until you have the pattern or design that you want.

Knowing that, it's easy to see that there are some inherent dangers: you could get an infection, your tattoo might not heal right, or you could have an allergic reaction to the ink. There is no possible way that the tattoo parlor can make the activity 100% safe for all people, at all times. That means that you are taking on the assumption of risk, or the responsibility for your own risky behavior, should something like that happen.

In many cases, the tattoo parlor will actually inform you of the risks, and have you sign a waiver of liability saying that you understand. This alone, however, doesn't entirely absolve a tattoo parlor of its responsibility toward you.

A Standard Of Care

If the tattoo parlor is negligent in its actions, you can still sue, even if you signed a waiver acknowledging the risks associated with getting a tattoo.

In order for your claim to succeed, you would have to prove that the tattoo parlor didn't take the steps that were reasonably necessary to prevent your injury.

For instance, there are some people have medical conditions, like HIV, that make getting a tattoo extremely dangerous, and almost everyone in the tattoo industry is aware of that. Most tattoo parlors take proactive steps to make sure that their clients are safe to tattoo. They do that by making sure that their clients are:

  • healthy, with no known allergies to ink 
  • without a blood disorder like HIV or Hepatitis that can be easily transmitted
  • over age 18 and able to understand what they are signing
  • are able to understand and follow proper after-care procedures

A tattoo parlor also usually takes additional steps to keep clients from getting infections, including using new, sterile needles on each client, using ink from individual cups, cleaning tattoo equipment in an autoclave, carefully cleaning the chairs, and making sure that the artist uses sterile gloves when working.

Since all of these things are fairly standard for tattoo parlors today, you can reasonably expect the same type of care no matter where you get a tattoo. A tattoo parlor that doesn't follow these procedures is not meeting an appropriate standard of care for its clients.

What If Something Still Goes Wrong?

A tattoo parlor can still be found to be negligent despite any waivers that are used. Whether or not you have a valid claim depends on a number of things:

  • What was the nature of the injury? If it was an infection, could it have been easily prevented? Did the tattoo parlor employees forget to wipe down the chair you were in when you were tattooed? Did the artist drop the needle on the floor, and then transmit dirt or a foreign substance into the tattoo?
  • Was the design wrong? If you asked for a tattoo that said "Happiness" and the tattoo artist spelled it with only one "p" you might have a case - unless you were asked to view the design and approve it prior to application.
  • Was the injury partially your fault? If you have an infection, did you neglect proper after-care, or was the tattoo parlor alone responsible? If you were partially responsible, does your particular state bar any recovery action?

Most people get tattoos without any ill effects, but if something goes wrong when you get your next tattoo you should contact an attorney right away to determine if you can make a financial recovery for your injury. For more information, contact a company like The Gil Law Firm.