Inks and needles used in tattoos can cause a variety of health problems including skin irritation and inflammation, toxic or allergic reactions, localization of skin disease, and transmission of infectious diseases. While most tattoo parlors require customers to sign a consent form and waiver of liability, they can still be held liable when they fail to meet their standard of care and their negligence results in injuries.
Tattoos and Health Risks
Tattoo artists use electric needles and other pointed objects to inject particles of pigment into various layers of the skin. In many cases, the injection of tattoo inks into the skin can result in a variety of adverse health effects including skin abscesses and lesions, dermatitis, allergic reactions, bacterial infections, and serious infectious diseases.
Acute inflammatory reactions are associated with physical tissue injury and the injection of pigment, dyes, or metals into the skin. Allergic sensitivity to red pigmented inks is the most common reaction among people who get tattoos. Typical symptoms include itching, rashes, inflammation and swelling. Bacterial skin infections are associated with symptoms like swelling, tenderness, pain and drainage of a pus like substance. Bacterial infections typically occur from unsanitary conditions and unclean needles. Staph infections, Hepatitis C and HIV, have been reported in people who received tattoos with used or non-sterile needles. Skin cancers including squamous cell carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma, and malignant melanoma have also been linked to tattoos.
Filing a Negligence Claim
Tattoo parlors and artists may be held liable for personal injuries if negligence can be established by a personal injury lawyer. To prove negligence, the victim must prove that the tattoo business or artist breached the duty of standard care and such breach of duty resulted in the injury. To enforce a reasonable standard of care, a tattoo parlor or artist must meet certain minimum requirements before beginning a tattoo:
- Displaying health and safety certificates in a visible place
- Checking legal age of clients ( it is illegal to tattoo people under 18)
- Inquiring about medical history and known allergies
- Using new, sterile needles
- Providing sterile working conditions
- Providing adequate instructions for after-care of tattoos
Although tattoo parlors and artists may be held liable for professional negligence, liability is not absolute. Skin infections and allergic reactions are known risks associated with tattoos, so most tattoo businesses ask their clients to sign a liability waiver or consent form that explains such risks before the tattooing procedure begins.