9545 Reseda Blvd. unit 2, Northridge, CA (818) 700-2818

Client Sueing

Can I get sued personally as a professional tattooist/ independent contractor working under a licensed shop?

From what I've read they have to prove without a doubt the infection came from the studio and not when they left the shop. Anyone else had to deal with this? Thank you for any help.


RE:Client Sueing

This question is a legal question... each state has slightly different laws. However a client can sue the tattoo artist the shop & even the owner personally for failure to supervise.

Whether or not a judgment is granted is up to the judge.

I would advise getting individual liability insurance.

Talk with a lawyer FREE Consultation. Also an insurance agent

Next look at having legal forums for the client to sign: such as a how to care for a new tattoo forum. A placement acceptance forum, for Stencil Placement, an Art Work Approval Forum, a questionnaire such as medicine the client is on etc,

Certain inks can cause allergic reactions, typically carbon based, you have Carbon Based Pigments, Vegetable Based Pigments, Acrylic Based Pigments. Also look at MSDS For ingredients in the carrier solutions.

Take Pictures of the finished tattoo it adds to your portfolio. Additionally it can help if you do get sued.

Follow generally accepted practices.

As a Shop Owner you have to error on the side of caution.
I personally have never had a client sue me. But I take steps to protect my business as well as my personal assets.

Note a judgment is not absolved through bankruptcy.

Prepare for the worst hope for the best! Applications Combat, Business.

Good Luck in your new venture! Bill Kearney. :-)
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RE:Client Sueing

Every shop I've been to around here has a client consent form that get's filled out before every (new) tattoo.
Latest one I read through freed the shop/artist of every possible liability. Basically it stated that "We are professionals, and it won't be our fault if your tattoo gets screwed up, follow our aftercare procedures, no free touch ups"
I'm paraphrasing of course.
If your client consent forms are up to snuff, there should be no legal way that a client can have you served with a lawsuit.
If your customer service and product are good, there shouldn't be any problems.
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RE:Client Sueing

2 Bomber
While I agree that consent forums are necessary. As I mentioned in my reply above yours. A consent fourm in no way stops you from being sued! Ask any lawyer, most will answer a question like that for free over the phone.

The Fourm merely helps to meditate any damages.

Take Care, Bill Kearney :-)
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RE:Client Sueing

All of the consent forms I've signed also doubled as release of liability.

No need to slam a customer with half a dozen legal documents when all they want is a tattoo.
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RE:Client Sueing

Thank you for all the responses! I appreciate it! Guess I'll be getting liability insurance to cover thine own ass.
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RE:Client Sueing

2 Bomber,
If the Client has to sign the release forum to receive the service,The Release is Null & Void! FACT!

They put the language in contacts to prevent idiots from suing! NOTE, Once an Attorney is Called.. They explain the fact that the release doesn't matter..

Additionally on Bulk Forums the language also adds to sales.

It can & only be useful in mitigating damages.

CALL AN ATTORNEY! ASK THEM probably answer it for FREE!

is so that at each point of the process, you have them sign & agree to The Tattoo Process, The Acceptance of the Art Work, Placement of Stencil. After Care Instructions. etc...

This will hold up better for mitigating damages. Additionally it demonstrates professionalism. Also typically reduces insurance premiums

Note: We have never as of yet been sued.. I'm proud of that.
But equally proud of the fact...
That Clients like the extra attention to details.
Comments like no one ever told us about that ..

Take Care, Bill Kearney. :-)
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RE:Client Sueing

2 K Daniels,

Good Move.. & You are Welcome!

Take Care, Bill Kearney. :-)
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RE:Client Sueing

I'd like to know what state you are in Bill. I've never heard of a document becoming void if someone has to sign it to receive a service. Not just in the tattoo business. I've had to sign all sorts of "legal" docs to get things like phone service, even had to sign different agreements to get a JOB!!! (Some of Which I felt were unethical at the time but I'll reserve further judgements)

The Point is, a person who is of sound mind (not sick, threatened, or intoxicated) can sign just about any legally binding document and the document won't lose any merit should it be called to the attention of a judge.

KDaniels. A $100,000 public liability insurance plan is required to play ball in washington state.
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RE:Client Sueing

2 Bomber,

The fact you sign an agreement to : Say Purchase a car, Get Phone Service is different than a an agreement not to sue, [IE] Waiver of Liability!

First of all all contacts have outs.. As a matter of a fact, some are not enforceable. Example : as you mentioned an employment contract. Now a Non Compete Clause, can hold up if someone leaves a shop & opens their own with in the described radius, if it is reasonable. NOTE: MAY HOLD UP!

EXAMPLES of contracts that do not hold up : WAIVER OF LIABILITY:
Business such as Gyms Health Clubs, Tattoo Studios, Hair Salons, etc... Have these.. THEY TYPICALLY DO NOT HOLD UP..

Reasons why they do not hold up : In Accordance with most States Annotated Codes, The Professionals providing the services are held out to be experts: & as such the Fiduciary Responsibility lies with them. To do their do diligence.

Note: A parking garage has a sign that says Not Libel for items left in the vehicle.. That under the law in all States depends on if the person took reasonable precautions.. [ ie ] acted in a prudent manner. SO IF YOU LEFT THE ITEMS IN THE VEHICLE IN PLAIN SITE ... LIKE THE CAR SEAT! Then in the eyes of the law you acted in a careless manner.. & as such the Parking Garage is not Libel.
NOTE: HOWEVER IF YOU PLACED THE ITEMS IN A TRUNK OF A CAR OR IN A SUV HIDDEN COMPARTMENT, Then in the eyes of the law you took reasonable steps to avoid break in.. & as Such the Parking Garage is Libel.. The Parking Garage is responsible for security since they provided a place to park in exchange for cash.

You can not tell someone you can not sue me .. before a service.. Most prudent individuals assume that you are a professional. Which is what the law says.

That being said if you have an apprentice & the apprentice tattoos a client.. & The Client Signs a Waiver Stating That they are Aware That the Apprentice is not an expert & is learning.. even though supervision is provided.. Then the law is on the establishments side.. Since any Prudent individual would understand that a apprentice is certainly more likely to make mistakes.

But a Waiver of Liability does not hold up otherwise. However if the Client say failed to follow the instructions for aftercare, & was verbally explained as well as written copy was provided.. & the problem was related to after care then, the waiver holds up. Due to the fact the Client did not fill their contractual obligations. [ie] Use the prescribed methods for aftercare.. The Waiver & the aftercare instructions have signature sections. Hence its a Contact.

Additionally if you have a Health & Medical Consultation section. & the Client fails to mention an Allergy or Medicines, health conditions.. Then The Waiver Holds up! Since the Client Failed to disclose relevant information.. You cannot be held responsible for something you should have been aware of but the Client Failed to provide..


Also if you failed to follow your States Health Departments Procedures, The Waiver is VOID!!

Having a liability policy, doesn't mean you cannot be sued.. or that the Client could receive recompensement for a Dollar Amount Exceeding the Policy's amount!!!

Additionally most insurance companies discounts for Shops that have good procedures in place.. SINCE IT REDUCES THE CHANCE OF THEM HAVING TO PAY A CLAIM.. example safe driver discounts.

I'm perplexed that this conversation has continued !

Just because you sign something doesn't mean it will hold up in court!

There's tons of contracts that are out there, for the sole purpose of keeping stupid people from suing. Doesn't mean that they are valid!

Each State is slightly different, However this is applicable to ALL STATES!

Further More, Federal Law Supersedes State Law, State Law Supersedes Local Law, [ County or City ] unless it some how is more beneficial to the consumer!

Take Care, Bill Kearney. :-)
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RE:Client Sueing

I'm always a little intrigued by the release forms you sign at tattoo stores in Australia. Some are OK, where they say you consent to your procedure, are of legal age, and have agreed to the art work etc.

But the forms where they say things like' you sign away all rights, including copyright, abilty to sue and no guarantee that they will do the job right are at best unenforcable and at worst, just plain obnoxious. I have seen forms which purport to contract out of their responsibilities under legislation. This cannot be done, you cannot contract out of the Trade Practices Act and Fair Trading Acts in Australia. Nor can you use a contract to get around Tax , superannuation, public health and employment law. The result of an illegal term in a contract will mean the court will just blue pencil the term out of the contract and try and make out the contract without that illegal term.

Secondly contracts are generally read seperate to tort law. So while you might purport to use a contract to protect your self from being sued, you cannot contract out of your own negligence. This would be a question of fact for the court (or insurer who would probably try and settle beofre going to court). So if you injure someone while tattooing, you are still liable regardless of the 'terms' of the contract.

From a marketing point of view. I'm not sure if being hit with a overly legal type contract would make your client feel at ease getting a tattoo. especially one which doesnt make any guarantee any level of service or professionalism.
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RE:Client Sueing

This has been a lively conversation. I myself have enjoyed reading your perspective.

I'm glad you brought up the parking garage scenario. As I had spent some of my afternoon wondering how a public swim area can be "liability free" thanks to their "no lifeguard, swim at your own risk" signage.
But it makes sense now. Thanks!
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RE:Client Sueing

Greetings to Rob!

In regard to copyright law; I could see where it would be very important for a tattoo artist to retain the rights to the work they have done. Along with a photo release form.

Why? Because in order to market yourself with any completed work, with the hope of monetary gain, one must own (at least a portion) of the copyright. Under the situation of a tattooer/client interaction. The client is commissioning the artwork, so the client *under US copyright law* technically owns the copyright to that piece of art.

Without holding a part of the copyright, the commissioned artist cannot redistribute the art in coffee table books or magazines, or use the piece in a portfolio for marketing purposes.

If this part of the copyright law were to be enforced, it would sure take a lot of the fun out of the industry.
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RE:Client Sueing

We had a copyright question regarding tattoos while I was at law school. But for the life of me I can't remember the answer (or question for that matter) American Law is quite different from Australian Law, as in the USA I think you need to register(or formally acknowledge) your copyright, and in Australia it just occurs as a matter of fact under the legislation.

The only reason I bought up copyright is because I design my own tattoos and then get the artists to tattoo them on me. So it's really an employment relationship. I had the work to be done, I hired someone to do it. In no way was I transfering my copyright ( as a designer) to the tattooist. I was a bit taken back by the shop contract/waiver , but I needed the tattoo fixed as another artist had nearly just coloured me in solid blue and I wasnt prepared to waste more money on them, trying to get it fixed ( or trusting them for that matter) I just took it on the chin that I wasn't going to get my lawyer hat on. But those pseudo legal waivers just make me think twice about going back (which I haven't)

This is an interesting paper on copyright and tattoos http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2145048
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RE:Client Sueing

That's cool that you design your own tattoos Rob. I would like to see what you got going on.

In US copyright law; We have two measures of protection for copyright. An item can be registered with the library of congress, and will have full protection under the arm of the law.
But in 1972, the copyright reform made it so that any idea, once fixed to a medium, is property of the creator, and protected under an implied copyright, even without Library of Congress registration.

The caveat there, is when it comes time to fight a legal battle, a dated journal/sketchbook/manuscript/cassette demo. Doesn't have the same legal clout with the judge as an official LOC registry.
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