Monday, 18 November 2019 14:28

'Tis the Season to be Sued

Written by   Susan Preston


There is virtually no way to avoid an increase in tension during the holidays. The result of too much to do and too little time results in uptight, overwhelmed people. Stressed out, angry clients are more likely to sue if something goes wrong. People are pickier about services when their nerves are on edge, thus leading to more claims and lawsuits against all businesses.


If money is tight, bringing a lawsuit or a claim against an unsuspecting business owner may seem like an easy way to get cash for presents under the tree. These shakedown claims increase every year around the holiday season, where people allege they suffered an injury from a service they received.




Spa owners can take steps to protect themselves. Foremost is to not rush clients. Even though the days are hectic and long, a professional must take time with each client to relax them. Spending a little time now could save headaches in the future.




A medical history and consent form is suggested prior to procedures like Brazilian waxing, tanning, permanent cosmetics, laser, microblading, massage, and many other services. This form can give insight into the client’s expectations for the results, as well as an overview of their basic medical history. Be mindful that while having a consent form on file for each client can lessen liability, a person cannot sign away 100% of their rights.




Make it clear to the client they will not look like Jennifer Aniston after a facial or laser procedure, that their highlights will not instantly transform them into Charlize Theron, and that the body wrap will not make them into a twig. Making it clear what to expect will lessen your liability afterwards.




If the client has an upcoming event within the near future, avoid a long healing procedure. Laser services and permanent cosmetics take longer to heal, which could affect their look for an event such as a wedding. We recently had a claim where the permanent lip color caused cold sores to breakout two days before a wedding and our insured ended up with a claim for not properly warning the client.




Spa professionals need to be aware of health issues requiring a doctor’s release. For example, if a person has cancer and wants permanent makeup or a foot detoxification, they should bring in a medical release from their doctor before the treatment. Review any allergies the client may list on the medical history form. We heard a report that an allergic reaction to a body wrap led to the client dying during the treatment from anaphylactic shock. This is why it is crucial to review a person’s health issues.




Clients have the right to bring a lawsuit against the spa if they are dissatisfied with the results of the procedure. They do not have to suffer an actual injury. A good attorney costs $400 to $600 plus per hour to defend you in a malpractice case. A typical insurance policy is more cost effective. The proper insurance will protect the spa against liability claims, including defense costs.




Put the interests of your business first. If you have a cantankerous person who is unhappy or complaining before you have started their procedure, it may be best to advise them to go elsewhere, as you do not have the ability to make them comfortable with the procedure. Ask yourself if it is worth the money you will get for the liability you are taking on. Another option is to ask them to bring in a doctor’s release for the procedure – this puts it on them to discuss the situation with their doctor.


If you are comfortable with the client and your ability to meet their expectations, treat them professionally throughout the procedure. This will reduce your stress and theirs, making it a win-win situation for both parties.



Susan Preston 2019Susan Preston has been at the forefront of insurance program innovation since 1993 when she founded Professional Program Insurance Brokerage (PPIB) in Novato, California. Preston is also the co-founder of a nonprofit association setting standards for the permanent makeup industry, Society of Permanent Cosmetic Professionals (SPCP). With industry involvement, Preston and PPIB have been leaders in insurance programs for emerging markets and for the spa industry. Due to the national reputation of PPIB, in 2016 and 2017, Insurance Business America Magazine named Preston one of the 144 Elite Women in Insurance.

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