Tattoos have become an increasingly popular form of body modification. At the same time, they involve punctures to the skin that can lead to infections. In some cases, these infections can become quite serious.
Now, infections are typically caused by poor hygiene practices at the tattoo parlor. This means that if you are able to prove that the tattoo artist was negligent, you may have grounds for a lawsuit. But, there are many limitations to your ability to recover damages in these types of cases so it’s important to speak with a qualified personal injury lawyer.
Claim for Negligence
Now, the basis for a lawsuit due to an infected tattoo in Florida is what is known as negligence. This standard means that someone failed to use reasonable care under the circumstances. Note that the presence of an infection is not enough to prove fault. Instead, you must show that the artist failed to act reasonably.
Reasonable behavior as a tattoo artist would mean performing basic safety measures. Examples would be 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.
Limitations to Negligence Claims
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.
But, a waiver doesn’t bar a claim based on some 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.
Bear in mind that there is an implied assumption of risk associated with getting a tattoo. Now, signing a waiver indicates that you were made aware of the risks, but a court may find that you should have been aware of the risk of infection anyway. On the other hand, if your infection is serious, you might argue that you didn’t assume the risk of an injury this severe. As you can see, these cases are very fact-specific and can get complicated.
Further, 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 Florida law, comparative negligence doesn’t necessarily prevent you from recovering money damages against the tattoo parlor. You may have a claim even if you were 95% at fault for the infection. However, the amount you will be able to recover will be reduced by your percentage of fault. For example, if the court finds that you were 50% to blame for injuries that warranted $1000 in damages, the amount you would be entitled to receive would be $500.
In calculating the damages you are allowed to receive under Florida law, the court will consider a few factors. First, there are economic damages. These include 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.
Finally, there are punitive damages. These damages are meant solely to punish the wrongdoer for his or her acts. Note that punitive damages only apply in cases where there was evidence of intentional misconduct or gross negligence.
Deadline for Filing
Keep in mind that you have a limited time to file a lawsuit in Florida. This deadline is referred to as the Statute of Limitations, and it’s generally four years from the date of your injury. But, note that the statute doesn’t necessarily start running the day you get your tattoo. Instead, the clock starts ticking when you discover the injury. This means that if the infection doesn’t manifest itself for weeks or months, the statute of limitations period won’t begin until that time.
However, don’t delay in contacting an attorney. It’s important to start the process of filing a claim as soon as possible to help preserve evidence.