Colorado Personal Injury Lawsuits for Tattoo Infections
Understand your legal rights after a serious tattoo infection in Denver
In the era of self-expression, tattoos have moved from the fringes to the mainstream, becoming an increasingly popular form of art, symbolism and identity. However, the rise in tattoo culture also comes with an increase in potential risks, including the dreaded tattoo infection.
If you’re dealing with an infected tattoo, you might be wrestling with not only physical discomfort but also confusion and uncertainty about your legal options.
Can I seek compensation for my medical bills and emotional distress? How can I prove the tattoo artist caused my infection?
In this article, we’ll delve into when and how you can file a personal injury lawsuit for a tattoo infection in Colorado, offering clarity on what may initially appear to be uncharted legal waters.
How common are tattoo infections?
While tattoo infections are relatively uncommon, they happen more often than you might think. According to one study published in the National Library of Medicine, the occurrence of skin infections related to tattoos ranges from about 1% to 5% among those who get inked.
How do you tell if a tattoo is infected?
Is my tattoo infected or just healing?
Since tattoos, by nature, irritate the skin, it’s not always easy to know if your tattoo is simply healing as it should or if it’s infected. However, there are several tattoo infection signs that you should be aware of, including:
- Excessive or increased redness. A certain amount of redness is normal immediately after getting a tattoo, but if the redness persists or spreads, it could be a sign of infection.
- Increased swelling. Some swelling is to be expected around a new tattoo, but excessive or increasing swelling could be a sign that something is wrong.
- Worsening pain. Pain that increases after the initial tattooing could also indicate infection. Pain that persists or worsens days after getting the tattoo is generally not a good sign, either.
- Warmth. If the area around the tattoo feels hot to the touch, this could be a sign of an underlying infection.
- Discharge. While a little plasma and ink drainage is normal, yellow or green pus could be a sign of infection.
- Foul odor. A bad smell coming from the tattoo site is almost always a symptom of infection.
- Unusual scabbing or crusting. While some scabbing is normal, excessive or discolored scabbing could be a sign of infection.
- Blistering or boils. Bumps, blisters or pimple-like boils are usually not part of the normal healing process and may indicate an infection or an allergic reaction.
- Fever and chills. These systemic symptoms could indicate that the infection is spreading throughout your body, which could lead to other serious health complications.
- Red lines/streaking. Red lines leading away from the tattoo could be a sign of lymphangitis (infection of the lymph vessels), a condition that could indicate a rapidly spreading infection that requires immediate medical attention.
If you notice any of these early-stage tattoo infection symptoms, especially if they persist or worsen, consult a healthcare provider for a diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
Will a tattoo infection heal on its own?
No, in almost all cases, an infected tattoo won’t heal on its own, and an untreated infection could worsen and lead to more serious health complications. Tattoo infections generally require treatment with antibiotics, which can only be prescribed by a doctor, so you should seek medical care as soon as possible if you suspect you have an infected tattoo.
How do you know if a tattoo infection requires medical care?
If any of the symptoms of infection (like redness, swelling, pain, warmth, etc.) get worse or last longer than a few days, you likely have an infection that requires medical intervention. Additionally, any discolored or foul-smelling discharge indicates the need for immediate medical care.
Treatment for an infected tattoo may include antibiotics, and in severe cases, surgical intervention may be required. Always follow your health care provider’s advice regarding the diagnosis and treatment of any medical conditions.
How do tattoo infections typically occur?
Tattoo infections can occur due to a variety of factors, primarily centered around poor sanitation and aftercare. Here are some of the most common reasons for infected tattoos:
- Unsterile equipment. If the tattooing equipment, including needles and ink pots, is not properly sterilized, bacteria can easily get into the skin during the tattooing process.
- Inexperienced artist. A less skilled or unqualified tattoo artist may be unaware of or fail to adhere to health and safety regulations, leading to a greater risk of infection.
- Contaminated ink. Sometimes, the ink itself can be contaminated with bacteria, which can lead to infection once it’s under the skin.
- Improper bandaging. Using non-sterile or inappropriate materials to cover the tattoo can trap bacteria against the wound.
- Pre-existing skin conditions. Individuals with certain pre-existing conditions may be more susceptible to developing an infection after getting a tattoo.
- Poor aftercare. Failing to properly clean and care for a new tattoo can also contribute to infection. Ignoring or being unaware of aftercare instructions can lead to complications.
- Weakened immune system. If the person receiving the tattoo has a compromised immune system, their body may have difficulty fighting off potential infections, making them more susceptible to an infected tattoo.
- Lack of antibacterial treatment. Failing to apply antibacterial ointment as advised could make the tattooed area more susceptible to bacterial invasion.
- Touching with dirty hands. Handling the tattoo with dirty hands during the healing process can introduce bacteria to the wounded area.
It’s crucial to follow all recommended guidelines for both the tattooing process and aftercare to minimize the risk of infection. Always ensure you’re working with a reputable artist and studio, and consult a health care provider if you suspect that an infection has occurred.
How do you prove negligence in a tattoo infection personal injury lawsuit?
To prove negligence in a personal injury lawsuit for a tattoo infection, you’ll need to establish that another party (tattoo artist, tattoo shop, etc.) owed you a duty of care and that their actions or inactions caused your infection.
What is “duty of care” in personal injury lawsuits?
In a personal injury lawsuit involving a tattoo infection, the concept of “duty of care” refers to the legal obligation that the tattoo artist and the tattoo establishment have to provide a safe and hygienic environment for their clients during the tattooing process. This duty of care extends to taking reasonable precautions to prevent infections and other potential health risks.
For a successful case, the plaintiff (the injured party) would need to provide evidence to establish the following 4 key elements of a personal injury case:
- Duty of care. The plaintiff would need to establish that the tattoo artist or the establishment providing the tattoo had a duty of care to provide a safe and hygienic environment and to follow proper infection control procedures. The duty of care is usually established once the client engages the tattoo artist’s services.
- Breach of duty. The plaintiff would need to demonstrate that the tattoo artist or establishment breached their duty of care by failing to follow industry standards for hygiene and infection prevention, such as using sterilized equipment, clean needles and proper sanitation practices.
- Causation. The plaintiff would need to show that the infection was a direct result of the defendant’s negligence in maintaining proper hygiene standards during the tattooing process.
- Damages. The plaintiff would need to provide evidence of the damages they suffered as a result of the infection, such as medical records, doctor’s reports and photographs of the infected area. This could include physical pain, medical treatment costs, lost wages due to time off work, and any emotional distress caused by the infection.
If all 4 of these elements can be proven, you’ll likely be awarded compensation through a personal injury lawsuit.
What proof is needed in a personal injury lawsuit involving a tattoo infection?
To strengthen the case, the following types of evidence might be useful:
- Medical records. Documented medical treatment for the infection, including diagnoses, prescribed medications and any ongoing medical care.
- Expert testimony. Expert witnesses, such as medical professionals specializing in infections, can provide testimony regarding the connection between the infection and the defendant’s negligence.
- Photographic evidence. Clear photographs of the infected area can help demonstrate the severity of the infection and the progression of the condition.
- Witness statements. Statements from individuals who were present during the tattooing process or who observed the defendant’s hygiene practices could support the plaintiff’s claims.
- Records of sanitation practices. If the tattoo parlor has records of its sanitation practices, equipment sterilization, and employee training, these records can be used to show whether the establishment followed proper procedures.
Be aware that the defendant in these types of cases will often try to argue that the plaintiff’s own actions contributed to the infection. This is called contributory negligence, which, if proven, can decrease the final compensation.
Because of this, the plaintiff should be prepared to demonstrate that their actions did not significantly contribute to the infection or that any actions they took were reasonable under the circumstances.
What compensation may be available in a personal injury lawsuit for a tattoo infection?
In a personal injury lawsuit for a tattoo infection, the compensation available to the injured party typically falls into several categories, aiming to cover the damages and losses suffered due to the infection and its consequences.
Here are some common types of compensation that may be available:
- Medical costs. Reimbursement for medical expenses related to treating the infection, including medications, doctor visits, surgeries and hospital stays.
- Lost income. If the infection led to missed work days, compensation for the wages lost during that time.
- Future medical expenses. Compensation to cover expected future medical costs if the infection has lasting effects.
- Pain and suffering. Compensation for physical pain, emotional distress and discomfort caused by the infection and its aftermath.
- Scarring or disfigurement. Compensation for any permanent scarring or disfigurement resulting from the infection.
- Reduced quality of life. Compensation for the impact the infection has on the person’s ability to enjoy life’s activities.
It’s important to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney to understand what compensation you might be eligible for based on the specifics of your case.
Contact an experienced Colorado personal injury attorney
If you’ve suffered a serious infection after getting a tattoo in the Denver area and you believe negligence was involved, contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at The Babcock Law Firm. We can evaluate your case and help you determine if you have a viable claim. If we believe you have grounds for filing a personal injury lawsuit, we can handle the claims process for you and take the necessary steps to ensure you receive maximum compensation.
Contact our office today for a free consultation to learn more about your rights.
Tampa, M., Mitran, M. I., Mitran, C. I., Matei, C., Amuzescu, A., Buzatu, A. A., & Georgescu, S. R. (2022). Viral Infections Confined to Tattoos—A Narrative Review. Medicina, 58(3), 342. https://doi.org/10.3390/medicina58030342