Our brave service members take unimaginable risks to keep our country safe. With this undertaking, they should have the best equipment available to them. Unfortunately, thousands of veterans and service members may have been exposed to a faulty product: defective 3M Combat Arms Earplugs. Members from all five branches of the military–Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard–may have suffered hearing loss and/or tinnitus because these earplugs failed to protect them. Whether you are a veteran or an active service member, you may be entitled to financial compensation for the damages caused to you by the faulty 3M earplugs.
How many people suffered hearing issues from 3M earplugs?
More than 200,000 people are living with hearing problems because of the Combat Arms Earplugs Version 2. However, that number is not fixed. Over time, more cases of hearing loss and tinnitus are being discovered and tied back to 3M earplugs.
On average, those who suffer from hearing loss don’t seek treatment until seven years after they suspect a hearing problem.
If you believe that you are suffering hearing damage as a result of failed combat earplugs, it is important to seek both medical attention and legal counsel as soon as possible. A doctor may be able to prevent further damage and help you to follow a course of action to manage the problem.
You should also seek out a qualified law firm that has the experience and resources necessary to take on a company as large as 3M. It is important to do this in a timely manner so you can meet legal deadlines and begin seeking legal recourse right away. Hiring an attorney qualified to handle these types of cases will also help you to get the highest amount of compensation for your injuries.
Who has been affected by defective 3M earplugs?
Many of the military personnel who have been affected by the defective earplugs served between 2003 and 2015. Though the average age for first time hearing aid users is 70, some military personnel who haven’t even reached half that age are using hearing aids due to 3M’s negligence. A significant number of service members in the military between the ages of 30 and 49 have reported hearing loss and tinnitus.
Many employees in other loud work environments have suffered hearing problems too due to defective 3M products. This includes metal workers, factory workers, construction workers, farmers, miners, and police officers.
What are 3M earplugs and why were they used?
Members of the military are routinely exposed to extremely loud noises such as explosions, planes and helicopters, and gunshots. Repeated exposure to sounds at or above 85 decibels can lead to hearing loss. For reference, the sound of a gunshot is typically between 140 and 190 decibels. Without the right hearing protection, service members are at an even greater risk for hearing loss.
The company 3M specifically marketed Combat Arms Earplugs Version 2 as a solution to this problem. These earplugs were meant to significantly filter high-impact noises while still allowing service members to hear quiet noises in their environment.
Why did 3M earplugs cause so much damage?
Part of what makes ear plugs effective is their secure fit inside of the ears. However, 3M’s earplugs were not compatible with the size of service members’ helmets. In response, 3M redesigned their earplugs (hence the “Version 2”). The new product was shorter and able to fit inside the helmets.
Unfortunately, the shorter earplugs didn’t reach deep enough into the ear.
This means they weren’t effective in filtering out the sounds they were meant to block. They were also less secure in the ear, which means that they fell out altogether in some cases unbeknownst to the wearers. Service members put their trust in the 3M earplugs for protection for years. During this time, many unwittingly developed hearing loss and tinnitus.
Did 3M know their earplugs were defective and could cause hearing loss or tinnitus?
Reportedly, employees of 3M became aware of the defects in their ear plugs as early as 2000. That’s three years before the company became an exclusive military supplier of earplugs. The company chose to move forward with their military contract, making a nearly $7 profit on each of the thousands of pairs they sold over the years. Despite this, 3M failed to provide any warnings about their product.
The company has since admitted to knowing that their defective product did not provide the proper protection to soldiers’ ears. In 2018, 3M agreed to a $9.1 million payout to resolve allegations against them. This does not mean that the victims will automatically receive compensation. However, it is possible to pursue a lawsuit to recover damages.
Do I Qualify For a 3M Earplug Lawsuit?
If you used 3M earplugs during your military service (or while working in a noisy industry that used 3M earplugs) between 2003 and 2015, you may qualify for a 3M earplug lawsuit.
In order to qualify, you must be suffering from:
- hearing loss
- some other hearing problem due to exposure to loud sounds during your period of service
Additionally, since these earplugs were made available to the public, civilians may have a case against 3M as well.
If you relied on these earplugs while in the military or in a non-combat setting, you should speak to an attorney right away.
How can an attorney help me with my 3M military ear plug lawsuit?
There are many victims just like you who have suffered hearing loss or other permanent hearing problems because of 3M’s defective product. The good news is that there is strength in numbers. Lawyers are working diligently to combine evidence and research from various military and civilian clients in the same situation. This simplifies the legal process for you, and it may reduce your costs in the end. Further, you will not pay a fee until your case is resolved successfully. For a free initial evaluation, contact us online or by phone at 312-924-7575.