Can You Sue a Salon for Scalp Burns?

Concept of an extremely itchy and burn scalp in a man

My friend went to a hair salon to get her hair bleached, but the stylist messed up and she wound up burning her scalp pretty badly. She may have some permanent hair loss because of it. Does she have any kind of legal recourse, or is this a “you knew the risks” kind of thing?

Sorry to hear about your friend! Chemical scalp burns can be incredibly painful, and the idea of permanent hair loss can be devastating.

It’s impossible to give an accurate answer as to whether she has any legal recourse because we don’t have all of the details about the incident. If the burns are pretty severe and she needs medical care, you may recommend that she consult with an attorney about the matter.

In general, salons can be held liable for injuries, pain and suffering if you can prove that they  were negligent.

“A bad haircut or a nasty dye job are not sufficient reasons to file a personal injury claim,” says Cogan & Power, P.C. “To file a claim, it is necessary to show that the salon was negligent in their actions and that those actions caused real physical or emotional trauma to the victim.”

In order to prove your claim, you must be able to show that the salon (or its employee) failed to follow reasonable standards of care to prevent injury.

For example, the salon employee may have been rushing and left the bleach on a customer’s head for too long (as was the case for this woman in the UK). Let’s say that any other hairdresser would have left the bleach on for 20 minutes, but this particular hairdresser let the bleach sit for an hour. As a result, the customer’s scalp was severely burned and her hair started falling out in clumps. In this case, the customer may have a valid injury claim and may be able to sue the salon, as any other stylist would have only let the bleach sit for 20 minutes.

Ultimately, you have to be able to show that the salon should have foreseen the danger or potential for damage, but acted negligently and that negligence is what led to the injury.

If the product itself was the problem and the stylist followed the directions properly, a lawsuit may be brought against the manufacturer of the product. 

It would be advisable for your friend to talk to an attorney. These types of cases can be really complicated, especially if it’s not a clear-cut case of negligence. If your friend has received medical attention for her injuries, make sure that she has records of it. Also, she should keep a log of her expenses and any time she’s had to take off of work because of the injury. Make sure that she takes photos of the injury as well as the hair loss to prove that she suffered real damages. The more evidence she has that the injury has caused her real damages, the better her chances of proving her claim.

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