A Guide to Claiming Body Piercing Injury Compensation

If your life, or the life of a loved one, has been affected by a body piercing injury we can help.

The purpose of this guide is to help anyone who has suffered a body piercing injury and is considering a legal claim for compensation. If you are looking for medical advice, please see the NHS website.

Introduction

A recent study by the British Medical Journal (BMJ) found that one in 10 people had a body piercing other than in the earlobe.

The study found that piercings are most popular with 16-24 year old females, with 46% of them claiming to have a piercing. 31% of these respondents reported complications - including swelling, infection and bleeding. Half of those required medical attention, and 1 in 100 respondents were admitted to hospital.

While the procedure is generally safe when conducted by a trained professional with the correct equipment, individuals considering a piercing should be aware that risks remain. Even where the procedure is performed in a specialist clinic subsequent injury or illness is a possible outcome.

Under such circumstances, it may be possible to make a personal injury claim against the party responsible, and may be referred to as an occupiers' liability claim.

Do I have a body piercing injury claim?

Medical negligence claims differ from personal injury claims as the following will need to be established:

  • there was a breach of duty ("negligence" or "fault"); and
  • the breach of duty was the cause of your injury, damage or loss ("causation" or "avoidable harm").

Breach of Duty

A breach of duty means that the standard of care you received was below the standard that could reasonably be expected of a competent healthcare professional.

Causation

To establish causation, it will need to be demonstrated that the injury you suffered resulted from the negligent care rather than the underlying condition.

Get an impartial opinion

To get impartial advice on whether you have a claim, speak to a body piercing injury claim expert on 0800 612 7456.

A brief phone consultation will tell you exactly where you stand. There is no obligation to start a claim.

You can also find out if you have a claim with our Online Claim Checker.

Is compensation always payable?

If an error occurred during treatment and the patient was harmed as a result, this may be referred to as an "undesirable outcome".

Not all treatment that results in an undesirable outcome will result in the payment of compensation.

Sometimes an undesirable outcome is due to a known risk associated with the treatment, or due to a mistake that a doctor could reasonably have made in the circumstances.

How long do I have to start a claim?

If your injury is apparent immediately after medical treatment, you will have 3 years to start a claim.

It may be that the negligent procedure happened more than 3 years ago, but your injury was only diagnosed recently, within the last 3 years. If so, you may still be able to make a claim.

What if your injury was diagnosed months or years after treatment?

You may not be immediately aware of your injury. In some cases, months and even years can pass before symptoms appear.

The law allows you to make a medical negligence claim up to three years after the 'date of knowledge' (when you first learned of the injury).

It is recommended that you start a claim as soon as possible, as medical negligence cases can be complex. Starting your claim sooner will give your solicitor more time to gather medical evidence, assess the extent of your injury and to negotiate interim payments and your final compensation amount.

How much compensation can I claim for a body piercing injury?

The amount of money you could claim for your body piercing injury will depend on:

  • the extent of your injury, and
  • any financial losses or costs you have incurred.

At the start of your claim, your solicitor will consider the many ways your body piercing injury has affected your life. Your solicitor will take all of these effects into account to calculate the correct compensation award for you.

This calculation will factor in 'general damages' and 'special damages'.

General damages

General damages are awarded for pain, suffering and loss of amenity (PSLA).

Awards for general damages are set by the Judicial College and published in their guidelines for personal injury awards.

Special damages

Special damages are for financial losses and expenses you have incurred as a result of the accident.

What can I claim for after a body piercing injury? (see list)

Examples of special damages (losses you can claim for) include:

  • Lost earnings (including future earnings)
  • Medical treatment costs
  • Physiotherapy
  • Travel costs
  • Costs of care
  • Costs of adapting your home or car

What is the average injury compensation for a body piercing injury claim?

The Judicial College injury tables give a approximate idea of the ranges awarded for different injuries.

However, the money you would receive following a body piercing injury will depend entirely on your specific circumstances.

Your body piercing injury compensation will be calculated based on the unique impact your injuries have had on your life, your ability to work, and the actual financial losses you have incurred as a result of your injuries.

See the injury table above for some examples.

Can I claim for physiotherapy and private care costs?

Private treatment can be expensive, but funding towards the cost of this treatment frequently comprises part of a compensation award. Your solicitor may even be able to arrange access to private medical care as soon as your claim is accepted.

Can I get an interim payment?

Interim payments are effectively an advance on a probable compensation award. An interim payment may be awarded if the claimant is in immediate financial hardship.

Body piercing injury compensation calculator

Calculating how much compensation you can claim for a body piercing injury can be complicated.

Our injury compensation calculator tells you if you may have a claim, how much compensation you could claim, and what you can claim for.

Find out what your body piercing injury claim could be worth now:

Calculate compensation

How long does a body piercing injury claim take?

The length of time needed to win compensation for a body piercing injury can vary considerably.

A simple uncontested medical negligence claim could be settled in 12 to 24 months. However, if the case goes to court or there is a complex ongoing injury the process might take considerably longer. On average a medical negligence claim takes between 12 and 36 months. Read more:

How long will my claim take?

Will I still be able to claim for a body piercing injury after the law changes in April 2020?

The law relating to personal injury claims is changing in April 2020.

You will no longer be able to claim no win, no fee compensation using a solicitor for lower value claims (under £5,000).

In addition, compensation for whiplash and other soft-tissue injuries will be reduced.

Caring and sensitive support

Your solicitor will handle your body piercing injury claim from the initial consultation through to the financial settlement. In addition, your solicitor will work with other specialists to help you with:

  • Financial support: interim payments while you are unable to work.
  • Advice: on personal injury trusts, tax and welfare benefits.
  • Coordination: with rehabilitation providers and therapists.
  • Access: to treatment and therapies not always available on the NHS.

What are the risks?

The main risk associated with all body piercings is bacterial infection, although the level of risk varies according to which part of the body has been pierced.

Nose piercing injury claims

Nose piercings pose a greater risk of infection than earlobe piercings as the inner surface of the nose cannot be easily disinfected. However, despite the high number of bacteria inside the mouth, tongue piercings carry a smaller risk of bacterial infection.

Ear cartilage piercing claims

Ear cartilage piercings (at the top of the ear) are riskier than earlobe piercings.

Because the skin is close to the underlying cartilage pus can become trapped, leading to infection and development of an abscess. Antibiotics do not always successfully treat this problem and surgery may be needed to remove the affected cartilage. This may lead to a deformed ear and scarring.

Abscesses may need to be surgically drained causing scarring. In some cases, blood poisoning (sepsis) may develop; or toxic shock syndrome, which can be very serious. Blood poisoning can also occur without an abscess.

Other possible problems that can occur as a result of body piercing are:

  • Bleeding and blood loss - especially in areas rich in blood vessels, such as the tongue.
  • Swelling of the skin around the piercing.
  • Scarring and the formation of keloid (a type of oversized scar).

Other parts of the body

Piercings that interfere with the functions of the body carry higher risks of causing problems. For example:

Tongue (oral) piercings can cause speech impediments and chipped teeth if the jewellery wears away tooth enamel. There is also a risk that if the tongue swells, airways will be blocked. Genital piercings can sometimes make sex and urination difficult and painful.

Although the risk of contracting blood borne viruses such as hepatitis or HIV is now low, due to registered piercing premises using disposable sterile needles and other equipment, in countries where hygiene standards are less restrictive there is a risk from dirty needles.

Other medical Issues

Medical problems may result if a customer has an allergic reaction to the metals used in body ornaments.

In the case of mouth piercings this can cause respiratory, dental and speech problems.

Nerves, blood vessels and arteries may also be damaged if the professional carrying out the procedure misdirects their needle or piercing gun by even a fraction of an inch.

Current legislation

Although over the years a variety of legislation has been introduced to encourage and support safe practice, and model by-laws have been made available, these have not been accompanied by standard requirements for compliance.

Local or regional guidelines have been developed, often initiated by environmental health or health protection specialists; however, there have been difficulties in engaging practitioners in the development of such guidelines and in securing adoption and wider implementation.

With no nationally recognised or accredited training courses, standards for practice, agreed knowledge and skills frameworks or arrangements for monitoring and reporting of professional competence, it is easy for poor practices to be adopted.

Is body piercing regulated?

Under the Health & Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 all employers and self-employed persons have a general duty of care to ensure their activities do not expose them or the general public to risks to their health or safety. This includes those engaged in body piercing activities for gain or reward.

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 require all employers and self-employed persons to undertake a risk assessment of their activities and to either remove the risk or provide control measures to reduce it as far as possible. They must also provide training to staff to ensure they understand the risks and the control measures.

In relation to body piercing, one of the risks that must be considered is that of possible complications relating to the procedure of skin piercing (for example: infection, scarring, teeth damage).

Informed consent

The practitioner must ensure that a fully ‘informed consent' procedure is adopted. This means gathering information from the client about their health and suitability for the treatment, and giving the client enough information about the possible complications that could arise from the treatment for them to make their own decision.

"Failure to advise" is a factor in many clinical negligence claims, particularly surgical negligence claims, but will also be a factor in piercing and tattoo injury claims.

A claimant who has sustained injury and illness as a result of a body piercing may be entitled to claim for compensation if the illness is a result of the body piercing salon's negligent practice.

How did your injury occur?

The claims process that your solicitor follows will vary, depending on how the injury occurred:

How does no win, no fee work?

Under a no win, no fee agreement, your solicitor agrees that you will have no legal fees to pay if your claim is not successful.

Our no win, no fee guarantee

Our no win, no fee guarantee means there is absolutely no financial risk in making a body piercing injury claim - even if you don't win your claim.

What do I pay if I win my body piercing injury claim?

Your injury solicitor will receive a success fee which is deducted from your compensation, once your claim is settled. The solicitor's success fee can be up to 25%. You and your solicitor can agree the success fee before you start your claim.

What do I pay if I do not win my body piercing injury claim?

If your body piercing injury claim is not successful then you do not have to pay any legal fees whatsoever. Your solicitor may take out insurance to ensure there will be nothing to pay.

Read more about making a No win, no fee claim

Is there a catch?

The Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA) sets out the terms between you and your solicitor., No Win No Fee is a regulated activity and as such there should be no nasty surprises in the agreement. Nevertheless, it is recommended that you read the agreement carefully and ask any questions if you are unsure.

What is Legal Aid available for?

In 2000, the government abolished the right to legal aid in medical negligence cases. Depending on an individual's circumstances, Legal Aid may be available for discrimination cases, criminal cases, family mediation and court or tribunal representation.

Read more about making a No win, no fee claim

How can Quittance help?

Your solicitor will fight for the best possible compensation settlement for you, the highly-experienced panel of solicitors have an excellent track record of winning medical negligence claims.

If you have any questions, or would like to start a No Win No Fee claim, we are open 8am to 9pm weekdays, 9am to 6pm on Saturday, and 9.30am to 5pm on Sunday.

Call us FREE 0800 612 7456 or arrange a callback:

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Body piercing injury FAQ's

Can I claim for someone else?

Yes. In certain circumstances, it is possible to claim compensation on behalf of another person in the capacity of a 'litigation friend'.

If an injured person is either too young or vulnerable, too injured or otherwise unable to claim on their own behalf, their litigation friend can handle the claim process on behalf of the injured person.

The litigation friend will be responsible for communicating with the solicitors, and for making decisions in respect of the claim.

Read more about claiming on behalf of another person.

Will I have to go to court?

Highly unlikely. The vast majority of claims that are settled by the solicitor panel are settled out of court.

Only a very small percentage (approx. 5%) of personal injury claims go to court. Generally, only very complex cases, or those where liability cannot be resolved, end up in court.

Cases that do ultimately go to court are held in front of a judge, not a jury.

Read more: Will my injury claim go to court and what if it does?

Will I have to go to a solicitor's office?

No. You will not need visit a solicitor's office. As with most professional services, it is no longer necessary to meet face to face with your solicitor. Personal injury claims are dealt with via email, post and telephone.

Should you need to have a medical, this will be arranged at a medical centre near you or at your GP's surgery.

Read more: Will I have to visit a solicitor's office?

Can I get an early compensation payment?

If you suffer financial hardship as a result of an injury, you may be able to claim an interim compensation payment.

An interim payment is a partial settlement of your claim which is paid before your claim is concluded. The amount you receive in interim payments would then be deducted from your final compensation settlement or award.

Read more about interim compensation payments.

Howard Willis, Personal injury solicitor

About the author

Howard qualified as a solicitor in 1984 and has specialised in personal injury for over 25 years. He is a member of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) and is a recognised Law Society Personal Injury Panel expert.

Read more about this Quittance Legal Expert