Making a tattoo claim

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Tattoo spelling error or terrible artwork?

Tattoo artists and the shops in which they work owe a legal duty to their customers to exercise reasonable skill and care when carrying out their work.

If they fail to comply with their legal duties then you could be entitled to pursue a legal claim against them for compensation.

Sometimes it is obvious when a the tattoo has gone wrong. The most common example is a spelling mistake. We have dealt with a number of tattoo claims where a tattoo has been ruined by an embarrassing spelling mistake. This can be very distressing for the customer, particularly if the tattoo is in a highly visible position.

Other tattoo mistakes can be more subjective. Customers are often dissatisfied with the standard of the artwork for instance, but this involves matters of judgement as to whether the tattoo is so artistically poor as to give rise to legal liability.

A common example of this type of  case is where the customer asks for an image of a human face or an animal, but the actual tattoo bears little or no similarity to the original. In these circumstances you may have a valid legal claim if the artwork is so poor that no other competent tattooist would have done it that way. In these cases it may be necessary to call upon another tattoo artist to comment on the standard of the work in support of your tattoo claim.

Tattoo infection & disease

In addition to providing you with a tattoo that is of an acceptable artistic standard and does not contain a spelling mistake, the tattooist and the shop in which they operate must also comply with all relevant health and safety law.

If as a result of a tattoo artist’s failure to adopt the hygiene standards expected of their profession you suffer a tattoo infection or disease then you may be able to recover compensation.

Because tattooing exposes people to blood and bodily fluids tattoo shops are required to comply with very strict hygiene standards to minimise the risk of infection and disease.

Failure to adopt safe practices of infection control can have serious health consequences, particularly in view of the prevalence of blood borne viruses. Health risks include:

  • Hepatitis B
  • Hepatitis C
  • Hepatitis D
  • HIV
  • Tetanus
  • Allergic reaction

The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health has published  a ‘Toolkit’ giving health and safety guidance to tattoo artists and shops:

The health and hygiene standards to be expected in a tattoo shop include:

  • Good personal hygiene of the tattoo artist
  • Hand-washing facilities in the shop
  • Use of fresh, disposable latex gloves
  • Use of sterile, single-use tattoo needles
  • Management of infectious waste (such as used needles)
  • Clean and disinfected premises
  • Pre-tattoo health and allergy checks
  • After care advice

If you develop an infection or disease as a result of a tattoo artist or shop failing to adopt an acceptable level of hygiene then you should consider making a tattoo claim for compensation.

Making a tattoo claim

If you decide to make a tattoo claim it is important to act quickly, especially if the case involves a breach of health and hygiene standards.

Where your health has been affected it is important to seek medical attention without delay. You may also wish to notify Environmental Health, particularly if there is an ongoing risk presented to other members of the public.

You should also seek legal advice from experienced solicitors as early as possible. The information they are likely to require includes details of:

  • The tattoo artist and shop
  • Any complaints you have made
  • The date the tattoo was carried out
  • Photographs of the tattoo and any physical symptoms
  • Your medical position

If the tattoo claim is based on allegations of substandard artistic skill and care then it would be helpful to retain any original artwork that you presented to the tattoo artist.

How we can help with your tattoo claim

We are experienced in dealing with tattoo claims and are able to deal with cases on a no win, no fee basis.

We operate a free legal helpline. Call Penny Beales on 0800 955 1038 or email her with brief details at and she will provide you with a free assessment of your tattoo claim.