Barbers and hairdressers are responsible for the safety of their clients. It is important to remember that these professionals are governed by numerous regulations that ensure sanitary conditions, as well as adequate and competent work. These professionals may be held liable for injury to a client due to working with sharp tools, hot equipment, and chemicals that could cause serious injury if great care is not taken.
Most commonly, barbers and hairdressers are sued for negligence, slip and fall, and various other personal injury claims. If you slip and fall in a barbershop or salon because of slippery conditions that were not addressed by the shop or salon, you could assert a premises liability claim as well.
In order to prove negligence, you will need to prove that the service provider breached a duty of care, and that breach is what caused your injuries. Barbers and hairdressers have the same charge as all other professionals, and that is to possess the amount of knowledge, skill, and care shared by other members of their profession.
First, the barber or hairdresser must conduct tests to determine the effect of a particular product on each and every client, so as to determine any possible adverse reactions. Failure to conduct such testing could constitute a breach of duty on the barber or hairdresser’s behalf.
Second, the barber or hairdresser has a duty of care to properly administer the treatment or service. A breach of this kind may manifest as:
- Failure to Select the Appropriate Treatment: This includes failure to have and/or utilize the required knowledge in selecting the appropriate product for use in a particular treatment. Failing to select the appropriate product may be related to a failure to conduct a safety test. However, such a failure may also provide its own separate cause of action;
- Failure to Use as Directed: A barber or hairdresser could breach their duty of care by failing to adhere to the manufacturer’s instructions for safe use. An example of this would be if a hairdresser left a chemical relaxer in your hair for longer than instructed, resulting in your hair loss and a chemically burned scalp. Although the barber or hairdresser may choose the appropriate product or treatment, they may still be liable for injuries resulting from their failure to use the product as directed; or
- Failure to Carefully and Diligently Perform the Treatment: If a barber or hairdresser selects the appropriate treatment, and uses as directed according to the manufacturer’s instructions, but injuries result due to sloppy or careless performance, they may still be liable for those injuries. Further, if the barber or hairdresser fails to properly clean and sterilize their equipment, they could be held liable for any resulting injuries or infections.
What Defenses Does a Barber or Hairdresser Have?
A barber or hairdresser may defend themselves in a personal injury lawsuit, depending on the specific facts of the case. An example of this would be service providers, such as beauty industry training schools, that offer free or substantially discounted services in exchange for waived liability. In such cases, the client signs a contract prior to receiving services waiving the school’s liability. They may also be acknowledging that services are being performed by students, who are not yet trained professionals.
Another defense that could be utilized is if the client contributed to their own injuries by not following directions, or assumed the risk of injury by knowingly engaging in a dangerous activity. An example of this would be if the barber or hairdresser instructed the client not to move during the service, but the client moved, which resulted in their injury.
Another example is if the client left the premises while chemicals are still in their hair. In such a case, the court may find that the extent of the client’s injury was worsened by their own actions. This defense is sometimes referred to as contributory negligence. A court may also reduce a plaintiff’s recovery in some cases. An example is if the client realizes shortly after leaving the shop or salon that they have been burned or received some other injury, but fails to notify their service provider or seek medical attention until they have developed an infection.
Pre-existing conditions on the part of the client may be another defense that the barber or hairdresser can utilize. This is referred to as superseding cause, meaning that the defendant did not cause the plaintiff’s injury, but rather something or someone else did. Thus, if a plaintiff falls while in the barbershop or salon, then later falls again outside of their home, the shop or salon may be able to argue that there was an intervening cause. This is sometimes referred to as an “Act of God” defense, and when successful, the court may dismiss the claim against the business owner entirely.
How Can Barbers and Hairdressers Protect Themselves?
The best way for barbers and hairdressers to protect themselves is to ensure they are following best practices. Each state has its own regulatory board or commission that provides detailed and updated rules, regulations, and sanitary standards for all barbershops and salons.
By conducting themselves and their businesses according to these laws and standards, professionals can ensure they are practicing their duty of care to their clients and reduce or eliminate liability. Another way for barbers and hairdressers to protect themselves is to purchase liability insurance to cover any damages that might be awarded against you in personal injury cases.
Professional liability insurance may be used to cover damages awarded based on any acts and omissions of your employees, and can provide for settlement costs, litigation costs, and attorney fees. General liability may be issued to cover a financial award. For example, general liability may be used to cover a damage award that results from third party bodily injuries, or property damage. Workers compensation may be used to cover any medical expenses, as well as wages, for the employees of a barbershop or salon who suffers injuries while on the job.
Another type of insurance that service providers may find helpful is business personal insurance, which covers the cost to replace the contents of your shop. This could include chairs, computers, sinks, etc. Having fully functioning equipment is one significant way to avoid negligence claims. It is important to note that if your business is home based, your homeowner’s insurance may not cover any personal injuries that your clients may suffer.
You may need to purchase such insurance as a rider to your homeowner policy, or you may need to purchase a separate policy entirely.
Are There Remedies for Salon and Negligence Injuries? What Types of Damages Can Be Awarded?
The most common types of damages that may be awarded are called compensatory damages. These damages are intended to compensate the receiver for the injuries they were caused, and the amount awarded are based on the degree or severity of the injuries sustained. Another factor is whether there is sufficient evidence establishing that the injury occurred due to the defendant’s actions or omissions. Compensatory damages typically include medical costs, lost income, and pain and suffering.
Pain and suffering damages are those awarded for physical and/or emotional pain resulting from injury, illness, or loss. These damages differ from compensatory damages in that they are meant to assist the plaintiff with the pain inflicted by the defendant, rather than simply reimburse the plaintiff.
These damages may also be referred to as non-economic damages, as they are not measurable or objectively verifiable losses, such as medical costs or lost income. Some of the more common instances of pain and suffering being awarded include emotional trauma such as PTSD, limitation of personal activities, and potential shortening of life.
Do I Need an Attorney for Help with Barber or Hairdresser Issues?
If you have been injured by a barber or a hairdresser, or while in a barbershop or salon, you may want to consult with a well qualified and knowledgeable personal injury attorney.
An experienced personal injury attorney can help you determine whether you have a claim against the shop or service provider, as well as what type of claim you should assert (personal injury, premises liability, negligence, etc). Additionally, they can represent you in court as needed while ensuring that you receive the appropriate damages for your cases.