What to do if I’mI a tattoo artist of 10 years and a client wants to sue me a result of the second time she has seen me for services?

UPDATED: May 31, 2013

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What to do if I’mI a tattoo artist of 10 years and a client wants to sue me a result of the second time she has seen me for services?

I have always held license and have no arrests, or fines under my name. Each visit with me, she filled out a consent form which states that I will not be held responsible for any and all unwanted risks associated with the tattoo (including pigment dispersion under the skin- which is what she is so displeased about) She is suggesting I pay for her laser removal, which at the time of her request she has already admitted to have been undergoing treatment of this kind. She has also had someone other than me tattoo over what I did thus changing its original condition.

Asked on May 31, 2013 under Personal Injury, Massachusetts


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

A waiver, like the one you describe, is good, though not fool-proof, protection from a lawsuit: you can have people waive their right to sue you for the ordinary risks of  the service, but not for injury, damage, etc. caused by you either deliberately or through "gross negligence"--gross negligence being more than ordinary carelessness, such as doing a procedure which you know you are unqualified for, doing a procedure on somone whose phsyiology poses unusual challenges or risks, doing a procedure while impaired (e.g. drunk), etc.

I don't know enough about the mechanics of tatoos to know if pignment dispersion is a normal risk commonly attendent upon getting a tatoo, but if  it is, then you should have a good defense against a lawsuit, based both on the waiver and also on the fact that people are generally held to accept (and not be able to sue for) the well-known and obvious risks of an endeavor. (For example: a marathoner can't sue the run's organizers because she pulled a hamsting or blew out her ACL--those or ordinary and well-known risks of running which the runner accepted by taking part in the marathon.)

This does not mean that the client could not file a lawsuit against you--it's almost impossible to block people from initiating a suit in the first instance--but if the pigment dispersion is a regular risk and you were not grossly negligent, you would seem to have a good defense to raise if/when sued.

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