A Solicitor with a specialist interest in hair damage litigation.
Overview on Negligent Hairdressers
A trip to the salon can end in disaster for some clients with everyday hairdressing procedures resulting in burnt scalps and/or temporary or permanent hair loss. Those affected not only suffer physical pain but also distress and embarrassment. The damage suffered by the client is visible for all to see.
In a small number of cases the damage suffered is as a result of an allergic reaction to the product applied, irrespective of the care taken by the hairdresser in its application. However, in the majority of cases such pain and suffering is a direct result of the negligence of the hairdresser, for example:-
Failing to check a client’s reaction to the product by insisting on a skin test of the product 48 hours prior to undergoing the treatment.
Using the wrong concentration of products in the mixing of perming solutions and/or dyes.
Leaving the solution on too long.
Failing to set the appropriate temperature when using industrial hair dryers or straighteners
So, how do those affected successfully bring a claim against negligent hairdressers?
When a client goes to a hairdresser and arranges to have a treatment they are entering into a contract with the hairdresser for the supply of their professional services and, occasionally, for the supply of goods (purchasing of a hair dye or perming solution). Hairdressing is therefore subject to the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982 which requires that it be carried out with reasonable care and skill. Hairdressers also owe clients a common law duty of care to undertake their work with the skill and care expected from a reasonably competent person in their profession. Hence, when injury is caused to a client as a result of a trip to the hairdresser, a claim should be brought in both tort and contract.
Establishing liability in their claims should, in theory, be a straight forward process, the starting point in all such cases being that treatments do not ordinarily cause people to suffer the damage sustained by the claimant. Therefore there is a strong implication from the outset that the treatment has been carried out negligently. However, as with all claims the key to success is having the evidence to prove your case.
The evidence necessary to prove the case will differ depending upon the alleged cause of the claim, be it a hair dying disaster, perming gone wrong or a straightening crisis. However, the following evidence will be vital:
A statement from the claimant that they did not, in the case of dying hair, go to the salon for a skin test prior to having the treatment or, in a perm gone wrong, addressing the time period over which a solution was left on their hair.
Evidence from an experienced hairdresser as to the appropriate procedure for the respective treatments.
Evidence from any hairdresser that the claimant went to in an attempt to rectify the problem, especially with regard to the condition of the claimant’s scalp and hair.
Photographic evidence of the damage to the claimant’s hair and scalp. This should be obtained at the earliest opportunity and preferably before the claimant has tried to rectify the damage by undergoing further treatment.
Medical reports from any GPs or hospitals that the claimant attended in respect of the injuries sustained.
An expert report from a Trichologist on both the damage caused to the hair and scalp and prospects of recovery.
This evidence is important in establishing both liability for the claim and the amount of damages to be awarded to the claimant.
In keeping with the development of a litigious society, some hairdressers are now making clients sign a disclaimer form before undergoing treatments, these forms excluding or restricting liability for personal injuries sustained as a result of various treatments. In accordance with section 2(1) of the Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977 such agreements are invalid in respect of any personal injuries sustained as a result of negligence on the part of the hairdressers. However, such disclaimers may prevent those clients who, through no fault of the hairdresser, have an adverse reaction to a product, from successfully bringing a claim for damages.
When making a claim against a negligent hairdresser, if they are not self employed, the claim should be brought against the hairdresser’s employers as they will be vicariously liable for their employee’s negligence and be in a better position to pay for any damages awarded to the claimant.
Establishing liability for injuries sustained to the hair and scalp after a visit to the hairdressers should usually be without complication. It is then important to obtain the best award of damages for the client’s pain and suffering. This is achieved by collecting evidence of the injuries sustained as early as possible and instructing a Trichologist to prepare a report on the damage suffered and future prognosis.