Miss Smith was 18 years old when she suffered a personal injury on 25/08/2007. She had attended the Defendant's hair salon to have highlights put into her hair when suffered chemical burns to her scalp.

Background

Miss Smith (S) attended the Defendant's hair salon (D) with her mother on 25 August 2007 with a view to having her hair highlighted. S had had her hair highlighted on previous occasions but this was the first time she had attended D's salon. S had agreed to pay £161.00 for this treatment.

The stylist failed to carry out a patch test before starting the treatment. As soon as the highlighting foils and solution were applied to S's hair, she noticed that a part of the back of her head began to burn. S touched the foil closest to the area where she felt the burning sensation and noticed that it was hot.  S mentioned this fact to the stylist and requested that the foil be removed. The stylist refused to do so at first but eventually began to remove the foil after S repeated the request. The stylist appeared to burn her hands as she removed the foil and used gloves to remove the remaining pieces of foil. The stylist then washed the solution out and S noticed that clumps of her hair were coming away from her scalp into the basin as she was doing so.

The manager of the salon came to inspect the area of S's head where she experienced the burning sensation and advised her that it was fine. The stylist then dried and styled her hair and S left the salon with her mother. S was given no advice about the area of her head where she felt the burning sensation.

Upon leaving the salon, S had her head inspected by her mother who noticed a small red patch on the scalp that was beginning to blister. S and her mother returned to the salon but it was closed.

Medical Evidence

Over the course of the next few days S felt that the patch on her scalp was sore. S attended her GP on 29th and then again on the 31st August 2007 where she was found to have hair loss and pus emanating from the chemical burn to her head. S was prescribed antibiotics. 

On 10th September 2007, S was referred by her GP to a specialist burns unit for treatment. The wound that had started as a small irritable patch had grown in size and S was losing hair from the surrounding area. S underwent debridement of the wound and had a skin graft procedure, with tissue being taken from her buttock and placed over the wound.

S has been left with a bald patch at the back of her head which is 5 x 8 cm in size. The hair will not grow back over this area.

S has been recommended to undergo a serial excision procedure to treat the loss of hair growth and scarring. This treatment involves a number of operations to cut out the skin graft leaving S with a smaller horizontal scar at the back of her head.

A psychiatric report indicated that S was suffering from psychological disturbance which involved mild problems in relation to her self-image and confidence. S was also diagnosed with a mild adjustment disorder which has left her feeling less confident and more pre-occupied with her looks.  It was recommended that S undergo cognitive behavioural therapy to address these issues of confidence and self-esteem.

Legal Proceedings

The claim was issued on 18th August 2010 at Brentford County Court and S sought damages for the personal injuries and loss she suffered as a result of D's negligent treatment.

Liability was admitted by D on 12 June 2009.  A Part 36 offer was made and negotiations ended in a settlement being reached on 8 March 2011 in the sum of £21,250.

The Settlement

A rough breakdown of the settlement figure is as follows:-

General Damages - £14,000

Special Damages - £7,250 being mainly future medical costs

The Defendant also agreed to pay the Claimant's costs of the case.

Solicitors for the Claimant:  Sarah Towler, Russell-Cooke LLP

Counsel for the Claimant:  Conor Dufficy, 7 Bedford Row

Solicitors for the Defendant:  Plexus Law