“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” –Margaret Wolfe Hungerford.
Nowhere is that more applicable than in body modifications. Depending on the age and continent, body modifications can include foot binding, flattening the forehead, corsets, neck stretching, piercings, stretching lips and earlobes, or scarification (cutting or burning a pattern or design into the skin). The most common form of modern day body modification in the U.S. is the tattoo.
Getting a tattoo is a big decision, as your chosen image will likely be yours for life. There are only two solutions to a bad tattoo: laser removal or getting a second tattoo to cover up the first. A coverup tattoo must be larger and more elaborate than the first to hide the original artwork.
Tattoos can cost as little as $30 or as much as $4,000, depending on the tattoo size, the artist’s experience, the intricacy of the design, and their hourly rate. A coverup tattoo will likely cost more than the first, or you can try laser removal. Laser removal can cost $200 to $500 per session and require six or more sessions. A tattoo removal or coverup can be costly, time-consuming, and painful, so it is particularly distressing if the artist makes mistakes you can’t live with.
I Signed A Waiver
A waiver protects the tattoo parlor from frivolous lawsuits. Legitimate lawsuits based on the artist or parlor’s negligence are another matter. If they don’t meet the standard of care, break Utah’s tattooing laws, or don’t deliver what they promised, they are responsible for repairing the damage.
Standard Of Care
All tattoo artists must be licensed to keep their clients safe. Likewise, all tattoo parlors need to be authorized facilities inspected by the Department of Health to prove they meet the required standard of cleanliness and follow all health laws. Certificates showing they passed inspection should be displayed where all clients can see them.
- Did they ask for medical history? Certain medications, such as blood thinners, can cause you to bleed more during the tattoo process, or you may have allergies to ingredients in the ink.
- Is their station clean?
- Do they open a new needle before beginning your tattoo? If you don’t see them get a new needle, you can ask them to replace the needle in front of you, as bloodborne diseases are a severe threat.
- Do they teach you aftercare so the tattoo heals correctly? Tattoos can get infected without proper care, leading to severe illness, hospitalizations, and even death if you don’t recognize the signs of infection early enough.
Utah’s Tattoo Laws
In addition to the standard of care, the tattoo parlor must follow specific guidelines, or they could nullify the liability waiver.
Age: Utah requires all persons receiving a tattoo to be 18. The only exception to this is when a parent or guardian signs a permission slip. The premise is that children under 18 may not understand the risks involved and therefore can’t make an informed decision or protect themselves against the danger of bloodborne pathogens and infection.
If you find out your child got a tattoo without your permission while under the legal age limit, in addition to any award the court gives your family, the tattoo artist faces a six-month prison sentence and a $1,000 fine.
Location: It is illegal for tattoo artists to work out of their homes. It must be in a parlor that the Department of Health can inspect. A home environment is more challenging to control and keep sanitary with household pets, people running in and out, and children bringing home all kinds of sickness from the schoolyard.
Licensed: If you find out your tattoo artist wasn’t licensed when they worked on you, they are breaking Utah laws and could be liable for any damage they caused.
Delivering What They Promised
Beyond the safety concerns and legalities, sometimes costly mistakes can leave you in the lurch. We’ve all seen email forwards and posts of botched tattoos proving how disappointing some tattoos can be. Common issues people see are:
- The artist misspelled your tattoo. When people get tattooed, they often choose moments or people in their lives to immortalize. If there is accompanying text, and the tattoo artist spells it differently than you requested, you can expect the artist (or their employer) to pay to make it right.
- They didn’t finish a tattoo you paid for. Failing to complete the tattoo is considered a breach of contract.
- You get an infection or hepatitis. Tattoo artists can introduce bacteria or hepatitis into your system through dirty needles, a dirty station, or dirty hands.
How To Proceed
Experienced personal injury attorneys know Utah’s laws and how they may apply to your case. To find lawyers in Utah, you can do an internet search or contact Life Law, a respected Salt Lake City law firm, for a free consultation. They are ready to advocate for you and get you fair compensation.