Case study: five-figure settlement for tip of thumb amputation following acrylic nail application

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Our personal injury solicitors helped a client to claim compensation following a negligent beauty treatment that resulted in a nail infection and subsequent amputation of the tip of her thumb.

Negligent treatment at nail salon

Our client, Ms M, visited a nail salon to have a set of acrylic nails removed and a new set put on. Ms M regularly got acrylic nails and had been to this nail salon before but not for about 10 years.

Before the technician started the treatment, Ms M noticed that she was not wearing any gloves and she did not see her wash her hands. The nail instruments that were used were all kept in a beaker, however, there was no saline solution or disinfectant liquid in the beaker to sterilise the equipment after use (as would be expected). Ms M could not recall whether the implements were sterilised between customers.

During the treatment, the nail technician caught Ms M’s skin on the side of her nail with one of the tools and failed to clean the wound after. To close the open wound, the technician used some of the acrylic liquid (that is normally mixed with powder) and brushed it over the cut. The technician did not give our client any advice before, during, or after the appointment in relation to washing the cut or using any antibiotic cream to reduce the chances of infection.

Emergency treatment at hospital

Later that evening, Ms M’s nails felt sore. This is not unusual after having a set of acrylic nails put on and therefore Ms M did not think anything of it. However, a day or so later, her thumb started tingling and she had a burning sensation under the nail. Over the following days, her thumb started to swell, and she was told that her thumb had become infected.

Ms M sought emergency treatment and was initially provided antibiotics by the hospital. The nail infection did not improve with antibiotics and she was later admitted to hospital due to the serious nature of her condition. Ms M needed emergency surgery to clean the wound and then a second operation which resulted in the amputation of the tip of her thumb on her dominant hand to stop the infection from spreading to her other fingers. The treating Doctors had serious concerns about Ms M contracting sepsis.

As well as the physical injuries, our client was severely impacted psychologically.

Beauty treatment claim

Our specialist beauty treatment claim solicitors met with Ms M to obtain full details of the circumstances and injuries and agreed to take on the case on a ‘no-win, no-fee’ basis.

Our team conducted research into the potential risks of having acrylic nails. Although it is possible for the nail technician to cut the cuticle or skin too close causing a break in the skin, the use of chemicals and materials for acrylics (polish, glue and lotions) can lead to an infection. Lack of cleanliness of the tools and/or the hygiene of the nail technicians themselves could pass on unwanted germs.

Our solicitors wrote to the Defendant (nail salon) to request details of their public liability insurers and submitted a Claim Notification Form setting out the details of our client’s claim which included how the Defendant failed to:

  • Adequately wash her hands prior to starting treatment;
  • To take reasonable care, skill and attention when applying the acrylic nails;
  • Wear any Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) or adequate PPE to protect Ms M from infection;
  • Perform nail treatments to the expected standard resulting in the cut of Ms M’s skin;
  • Keep the work area clean and sanitised;
  • Keep the nail instruments sanitised;
  • Adequately prepare Ms M’s nails prior to starting the acrylic set;
  • Implement any or any adequate cleaning protocols to reduce the risk of infection to as low as reasonably practicable;
  • Give Ms M any or any adequate warning regarding the risks of infection;
  • Clean the wound after catching Ms M’s skin with one of the nail instruments in order to prevent infection;
  • Implement any or any adequate control measures to reduce the risks of infection.

We also included that the nail technician was negligent in using the acrylic liquid on the open wound.

Settlement of the claim

We received a denial of liability from the Defendant, but were not satisfied that they had addressed all of our allegations. They did not provide evidence of risk assessments, information on the sterilisation of the tools, the procedure of health and safety between client appointments, and details of the protocol for what the nail technician does when the skin has been cut.

Our solicitors were satisfied there remained sufficient prospects of proceeding with the claim under a ‘no-win, no-fee’ agreement and we continued to pursue the Defendant.

A short while later, the Defendant made an offer of settlement despite the Defendant’s denial of liability. Ms M opted to accept this offer and a five-figure settlement was reached.

Contact our specialist beauty treatment solicitors

If you have suffered an injury as a result of a negligent beauty treatment, get in contact with our specialist team for a free no-obligation chat on 0117 325 2929 or fill out our online enquiry form.


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