3M Earplug Hearing Loss Lawsuit

If you’re suffering from hearing problems or other adverse side effects after using 3M Combat Arms earplugs, you might be eligible for a lawsuit against the manufacturer. At Mass Tort Alliance, our team of professionals is ready to answer your call and discuss your legal options. You deserve financial compensation for the harm you sustained after using a defective product. We can find the right lawyer to help you in your fight for justice.

3M Company provided earplugs to military members between 2003 and 2015. During combat, soldiers are exposed to loud noises, such as gunfire and explosions. These earplugs were supposed to block out the sounds and protect their hearing. However, the manufacturer supplied defective earplugs that caused severe injuries to soldiers. Some ended up suffering long-term complications.

You have an opportunity to file a lawsuit against 3M company for your medical bills and other expenses resulting from your injury. Mass Tort Alliance can help get you on the road to recovery, so you secure the compensation you need to heal and move forward with your life. Find out how you can hold the manufacturer liable for their negligent actions by contacting us today.

How Dual-Ended Combat Arms Earplugs Work

3M earplugs were designed for adjusting the amount of sound a soldier hears. They can choose to wear them in one of two ways depending on the circumstances. The first option is to use the olive-colored end for a blocked or closed position. This blocks all sounds around the soldier while they’re in the ears. The other option is to wear them with the yellow end in the ears. This is the unblocked or open position, reducing loud noises but still allowing the wearer to hear someone speaking to them.

How Does Noise Affect a Person’s Hearing?

Sound comes from a vibration of an object that sends waves into someone’s ear (think of a cymbal being struck. The vibration of the symbol presses against the air around it, and those vibrations are carried to the ear). There are two main aspects of sound: volume and pitch (sound frequency). Noise is a type of sound that isn’t pleasant or wanted. Noise can vary in volume and comes in different frequencies.

Someone’s ability to hear high-pitched sounds becomes affected when they’re exposed to noise and may decrease over time. That means they’ll hear some sounds, but others could become distorted or unclear. Noise can damage a person’s hearing if it’s at a high volume or if the person has prolonged exposure to the sounds. The damage can take the form of tinnitus or hearing loss.

Common problems caused by noise are:

Temporary hearing loss

Exposure to loud noises can flatten the hair cells of the cochlea, found in the inner ear, resulting in temporary hearing loss. With occasional exposure, the hair cells flatten but then spring back up, and hearing goes back to normal.

Permanent hearing loss

Noise exposure for continuous or prolonged periods can prevent the ear from repairing any damage it sustains.

Hair cell damage

Cells become damaged over time from sound and noise. Destruction of the cells can happen with repeated exposure, leading to permanent hearing problems.

Cell and membrane damage

The inner ear is sensitive to loud noises. Whether one-time exposure or prolonged exposure occurs, the membranes and cells can become damaged enough to cause hearing loss.

Nerve damage

The auditory nerve is responsible for transmitting information about sound to the brain. When damage occurs, it can be challenging to hear things, such as someone talking to you, when you’re in a loud or noisy place.

Hearing Is Vital for Members of the Military

Soldiers must stay alert and be able to communicate with each other during combat. Unfortunately, they’re constantly exposed to intense sounds while training and in combat zones. Hearing loss is a common problem for military members because of the many frequently loud noises they are often exposed to. The use of 3M earplugs has been essential to protect soldiers’ hearing well enough for them to adequately carry out their duties.

Risks Associated With Combat Arms Earplugs

Everyone who serves in the military will eventually have to deal with high noise levels, either occasionally or frequently. Those deployed to other countries to fight in wars will need auditory protection so they don’t suffer hearing loss and other medical problems. Exposure to things like RPGs, engines, gunfire, and other sources of noise can lead to conditions, such as:

  • Tinnitus
  • Different levels of permanent hearing loss
  • Deafness
  • Damage to parts of the ear

Soldiers and veterans often face impairments and disabilities related to their hearing. The Department of Veterans Affairs released a report estimating over 60,000 military members are on disability due to hearing loss from just two initiatives: Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. In fact, tinnitus is the most common veteran injury, and it affects at least one out of every ten people in the United States.

Types of Hearing Loss

Hearing loss, also called hearing impairment, is the reduction in a person’s hearing abilities. This condition can cause difficulties in everyday life, such as having trouble understanding what people are saying or not hearing some sounds at all. When damage to one or more parts of the ear occurs, that’s when hearing loss can begin.

The main types of hearing loss are:

  • Conductive – Hearing can’t go through the outer and middle parts of the ear. Soft sounds and muffled loud sounds become difficult to hear.
  • Sensorineural – The most common permanent hearing loss, resulting from external injuries, such as explosions or other loud noises.
  • Mixed – Sensorineural and conductive hearing loss simultaneously happen. Damaged nerves leading to the brain or damage to the middle, outer, or inner ear can cause this type of loss.

What Is Tinnitus?

Tinnitus causes a ringing in the ears. It’s a common condition among members of the military and can cause a range of other noises in the ears, such as:

  • Hissing
  • Buzzing
  • Roaring
  • Clicking

The noises can vary in degrees of loudness and may occur in only one ear or both. It can be intermittent or constant.

The two forms of tinnitus are:

  • Objective – Muscle contractions, middle ear bone conditions, or blood vessel damage can cause this type of tinnitus. However, a doctor is only able to pick up on the noises by performing an examination.
  • Subjective – You’re the only one who can hear the sound with this type of tinnitus. It can result from issues with the middle, outer, or inner ear.

3M Earplug Defects

Lawsuits claim that 3M and Aearo Technologies, Inc. knew that the earplugs they manufactured were too short to insert into the ear correctly. The design flaw caused them to loosen just enough to cause hearing problems without the wearer noticing any issues. Even the slightest loosening of the earplugs prevented them from protecting a person’s hearing.

There was also a faulty seal in the design, allowing noise to get through the earplugs and into the soldiers’ ears. Researchers tested the 3M combat arms earplugs and discovered these manufacturing and design flaws.

Federal Court Case Against 3M and Aearo

A trial for over 229,000 veterans named in a lawsuit against 3M and Aearo Technologies began in March 2021 in a federal court in Florida. The plaintiffs claimed the faulty earplugs provided to them during their time in service caused their hearing problems. Court documents allege the manufacturers were aware of the poor design and improper fit of the earplugs after performing safety tests. However, they continued to sell them to military members without providing adequate warning of the risks.

Other lawsuits are pending and could reach settlements or favorable jury verdicts for the plaintiffs. You might be entitled to compensation against the manufacturer if you used 3M earplugs and ended up with hearing problems. It’s not too late to reach out to Mass Tort Alliance to discuss your legal options for holding 3M and Aearo liable.

Possible Compensation in a Defective 3M Earplug Lawsuit

Filing a lawsuit against a large company like 3M and Aero can be a huge undertaking. It requires drafting legal documents, adhering to deadlines, gathering evidence, and communicating with the defense attorneys. If you’re unfamiliar with the legal process, you likely don’t know how to handle the case or where you should even begin. Your qualified and knowledgeable attorney can take over so you can focus on your medical treatment.

When you pursue compensation, the amount you receive should adequately cover your past and future losses, such as:

  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages
  • Lost future earnings
  • Disability
  • Loss of consortium
  • Physical impairment
  • Mental anguish
  • Pain and suffering
  • Lost enjoyment of life

The monetary value of your case will depend on many different factors. Minor injuries will likely result in a small financial award, while permanent damage could lead to significant compensation.

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Mass Tort Alliance and our dedicated team will work hard to meet and exceed your expectations. You can depend on us to put you on the right path towards securing the compensation you need and deserve from the negligent manufacturer. Contact us if your defective dual-ended combat arms earplugs caused your injuries.