More Americans have tattoos now than ever before, the percentage of Americans with a tattoo is steadily rising. As tattoos become more and more popular, more people are suffering from infections from getting the tattoo. In some cases, these infections can become quite serious and cause you to miss work or incur hefty medical bills. You may be left wondering if you can sue for an infected tattoo. In some cases, such as negligence or defective product (i.e. the ink), you may be able to recover damages but it’s tricky so it’s important to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer.
How Do Tattoos Become Infected?
Tattoos can become infected due to the artist’s negligence or because of the tattoo owner’s failure to care for it properly.
A tattoo artist can cause their client’s tattoo to become infected if they:
- Reuse needles they previously used on another client
- Keep a parlor that is generally unsanitary
- Fail to wash their hands before tattooing someone’s skin
- Fail to sterilize their equipment properly
- Use contaminated ink
- Have open sores or a communicable disease
- Use a product that the client is allergic to without checking beforehand
Infections that can occur after getting a tattoo include herpes simplex and viral warts. Negligent tattoo practices could lead to infections of viral hepatitis, syphilis, HIV, and others. Infections are often caused by contaminated ink. While tattoo artists can contaminate ink themselves by diluting it with unsterilized water, sometimes the situation is out of their hands. Tattoo ink can become contaminated during manufacturing, and the FDA currently does not require tattoo ink to be sterile.
Negligence Claims for Infected Tattoos
Negligence is a common basis for a lawsuit due to an infected tattoo. This standard means that someone failed to use reasonable care under the circumstances. An infection alone is not usually reason enough to prove negligence, you must show that the artist failed to act reasonably. For example, reasonable behavior as a tattoo artist would mean performing basic safety measures like disinfecting the work area and using new or properly cleaned needles. In order for you to succeed in the lawsuit, you must have some evidence that these actions were not undertaken.
Do You Have a Negligence Claim?
Typically, when someone requests a tattoo, the artist requires them to sign a waiver. The waiver usually states that you won’t hold the parlor liable for injuries that result from the tattoo. These documents are generally enforceable so long as they were properly drafted and signed. For that reason, it’s important to have an attorney review your waiver to see how this affects your case.
That being said, a waiver is not enforceable if there is intentional misconduct or gross negligence. However, these cases are much harder to prove than those involving ordinary negligence. You would need to show that the artist had actual knowledge that he or she was doing something wrong and acted anyway. An example might be if the artist knowingly used dirty needles.
Even if you can prove that the tattoo artist was negligent, a court may determine that you were also negligent. For example, if you failed to take reasonable steps to avoid infection, such as not keeping the area clean or not following the artist’s instructions for care, this could be considered what is known as “comparative negligence.” Under New Jersey law, comparative negligence doesn’t necessarily prevent you from recovering money damages against the tattoo parlor but you may not be able to receive the full compensation amount.
Potential Compensation for Your Injuries
In calculating the damages you are allowed to receive under New Jersey law, the court will consider a few factors. First, there are economic damages such as medical expenses and lost income if you were unable to work due to the infection. Next, there are damages related to pain and suffering. These are more subjective and are available to compensate you for discomfort and loss of the ability to enjoy life.
Brandon J. Broderick Can Help You Recover Compensation
If you’ve suffered a serious injury due to an infected tattoo, contact us today for a free consultation. The expert [ersonal injury attorneys at Brandon J. Broderick are committed to client care and passionately fighting for the justice you deserve. One of our trusted team members will listen to your story, learn about your case, and can advise you next steps. Many of our clients feel a sense of relief once they make that first phone call.