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Tattoo (and Tattoo Removal) Fails: Can You Sue?

By Christopher Coble, Esq. | Last updated on

We all make mistakes, and some of those mistakes are more permanent than others. If one of your mistakes involved a bad tattoo or a bad tattoo removal, you may be wondering if you have legal recourse against the tattoo artist, the shop, or the clinic that tried to remove the tattoo.

So here are a few legal considerations if your ink has you irked:

Under Your Skin

Tattoo lawsuits are nothing new. In fact, they are so prevalent that most tattoo shops have insurance. The majority of these claims are based on injuries sustained during the tattooing process, so if you're upset with your tattoo artist's rendering of your late basset hound for your memorial thigh tattoo, you might not have much of a case.

Many shops have clients sign release forms, which could make a lawsuit based on artistic differences more difficult. These forms generally don't cover actual injuries, however, such as burns, blistering, or infections from bad ink.

If you are injured during the tattoo process, you may have to file a claim with the tattoo shop's insurer. If the shop is uninsured or unwilling to compensate you for your injury, you may have to file a case in small claims court or hire a lawyer. Many injury lawyers offer free consultations to discuss your case.

Getting the Ink Out

If something went wrong with your tattoo, the last thing you want is for something to go wrong getting that tattoo removed. But if your tattoo removal goes wrong, how can you set it right?

Generally, an injury lawsuit regarding the removal of a tattoo will be similar to one regarding the creation of the tattoo, especially considering many tattoo shops also offer laser removal. If you go to a licensed dermatologist or cosmetic surgeon for your removal, any injuries that result may be covered by the doctor's or the clinic's medical malpractice insurance.

With the initial tattoo or the removal, you may have signed paperwork that includes an arbitration clause covering any injury claims. Put simply, an arbitration clause means that instead of going to court to resolve an injury dispute, your claim would go to a neutral arbitrator. Note, however, that the arbitration process is different from a legal trial and could have an effect on your injury claim.

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