Can I sue a salon that used a chemical relaxer without my knowledge and consent?

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Can I sue a salon that used a chemical relaxer without my knowledge and consent?

I recently went to a local salon for a blow out and deep conditioner on my natural curly hair. After a few days, I washed my hair at home and I noticed that my hair was falling out it chunks. It smelled of a relaxer, is bone straight and very thin now. This was not the way it was when I went into the salon. I used to relax my hair but I stopped over 4 years ago, so I know what a relaxer smells like when being washed out. I’m sure the stylist mixed the relaxer into a deep conditioner. To stop the chemical process of relaxing you have to use a neutralizing shampoo, which I’m sure she didn’t. So for the

pas few days I’ve had a chemical processing in my hair which is causing it to fall out. I’m

beyond distraught at this point. What can I do?

Asked on January 2, 2017 under Personal Injury, New Jersey

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Yes, you can potentially sue, since this does appear to be negligence, or unreasonable carelessness--the question is, for how much? Here where I will betray my ignorance of relaxers and how they work--I don't know the long-term effects, never having used them. If the effect is more or less temporary, so that your hair will regrow or grow out, there is probably little point in suing, other than possibly for a very modest sum in small claims court, functioning as your own attorney. The reason is, if the hair regrows, then the "pain and suffering" you experienced is having partial or even total baldness for a few weeks, and considering that people might only get a few hundred or very few thousand dollars for a whiplash cervical injury or a broken bone, as you can imagine, the compenstion a court would give for temporary hair loss is slight. 
However, the damage is permanent--either a permanent loss of hair, or a permanent damage to hair health or texture--you might have an economically worthwhile lawsuit. In that case, you should consult with a personal injury attorney to see what the case might be worth.


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