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How to Write a Bulletproof Tattoo Consent and Release Form

tattoo artist lawsuit

Avoid The Painful Sting of a Lawsuit

Tattooing is a creative and lucrative profession, and also one that requires you to have a full understanding of how to keep your clients safe. They are putting their skin in your hands, and you and your artists have the responsibility of providing them with stunning body art and the best possible experience.

Unfortunately in our litigious society, people are always looking for ways to make an extra buck. Should your client feel in any way that you or your studio was responsible for personal or emotional injury, they may decide to sue you. 

9MAG Tattoo parlor was sued by a client who alleged that her cover-up tattoo was not only poorly done, but resulted in injuries and disfigurement. The result of the lawsuit is still pending.

A tattoo waiver helps protect your business, along with other risk management practices you will learn about here. Read on to learn the reasons why a client might decide to sue you or your studio, and what clauses are required in a tattoo waiver to help protect against these lawsuits.

Why Might a Client Sue Me or My Tattoo Studio? 

There are various cases in which a client may choose to sue you or your studio, all of which can be covered in a tattoo waiver. It’s important to note that no matter how frivolous the lawsuit, you still face the legal fees that come with having it thrown out – waivers can often prevent a case from ever getting that far.

  • Injury: The tattoo artist accidentally injures the client during tattooing
  • Infection: If the client received a serious infection due to the equipment or tattooing process.
  • Allergic Reactions: The client suffers a severe reaction as a consequence of tattooing.
  • Buyer’s Remorse: If the client feels that the tattoo received did not meet their expectations based on the consultation.
  • Accident on the Premises: If a client slips or falls in your studio, or is otherwise injured.

Next up: what clauses you need to put in your waiver to protect your business.

What should a tattoo waiver and release form contain?

A tattoo waiver will consist of several clauses that outline the various risks involved in getting a tattoo. By signing the waiver, the client will be acknowledging that they understand and accept these risks, and waive the right to sue over any of those issues.

The following are guidelines, but it is very important to consult a lawyer when drawing up your waivers. Waiver laws vary between country and states/provinces, so you need a local legal expert to ensure that the clauses in your waiver are enforceable

1. Acknowledgment of pre-existing conditions, medications, and allergies

This clause lists various pre-existing conditions and medications and contains an acknowledgment that the tattoo client has discussed if they have any of them with the tattoo artist. Examples of conditions include:

  • Diabetes
  • HIV
  • Epilepsy
  • Heart Conditions
  • Skin Conditions
  • Organ or Bone Transplant recipient

Allergies are usually listed in a separate clause (i.e. metals, latex, soaps), and the client must also acknowledge that there is a risk of reaction to the inks or materials involved.

2. Acknowledgment of the possibility of infection and agreement to follow aftercare routine

This clause outlines that there is a risk of infection when receiving a tattoo, and that the client understands that by strictly following the aftercare routine provided they minimize the risk.

3. Acknowledgment of the permanence of the tattoo

No matter how obvious you feel this is, it’s important to have a clause that states the client understands the permanence of the tattoo. It also outlines the acknowledgment that the only way to remove the tattoo is through surgery or laser, which can not restore the skin back to its original appearance.

4. Acknowledgment of Variation of Tattoo Color and Design

A clause outlining that the tattoo colors and design may vary slightly and that the tattoo naturally fades over time.

5. Acknowledgment of age and of being of sound mind

The client acknowledges that they are the legal age to receive a tattoo, and are not under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

6. Tattoo Photography Agreement

The client agrees to allow the tattoo artist/studio to take photos of the tattoo and use the images in promotional materials. Often these clauses also include a line stating that the client has the right to disagree to allow photography and to discuss this beforehand with the studio. Having these clauses also help when defending your tattoo copyright.

7. Exculpatory Agreement

This is the most important clause of the waiver, as it states definitively that the client and their family and heirs waive the studio and tattoo artist from all liability in the event of injury or consequential damages. The clause, in essence, waives the right for the client to sue, to the full extent permitted by the law.

Download Tattoo Waiver and Assumption of Risk Templates Here

What are other ways you should secure your tattoo business? 

Waivers are an important line of defense against lawsuits, but nothing beats an actual focus on providing a quality experience. It’s in your best interest to focus on your duty of care. This is the legal responsibility to minimize risks and provide a safe environment/experience for your clients.

It is important to understand that even an exculpatory agreement only protects you against client dissatisfaction or lawsuits related to ordinary negligence; incidents or accidents that arise due to a lapse in a reasonable duty of care.

Examples of ordinary negligence include:

  • A slip on a wet floor during a rainy day
  • Accidental minor injury or scarring during tattooing
  • Infection due to an unknown pre-existing condition

Gross negligence, on the other hand, involves acts that are seen as willfully neglectful. Examples here might include the tattoo artist giving the wrong tattoo, reusing contaminated tools, or failing to repair a glaring environmental hazard in the studio. In most cases, these acts of negligence are not protected by a waiver.

You will also need to make sure you have tattoo studio insurance, and a big part of staying compliant for your insurer is ensuring your waiver is easy to read and that you keep running records of your signed copies.

This process can get very tedious on paper. Thankfully, WaiverForever is your one-stop-shop for waiver systems that help streamline your business. Our waivers are easily read on a desktop browser or in our tablet and phone app, and we keep permanent copies of all signed waivers in our secure server. Our built-in client management system also makes it easy to group and market to your various clients.

Focus on keeping your clients safe and happy, and rest with the peace-of-mind that comes with knowing your business is fully secured.

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