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What Should I Do if My 3M Earplugs Don't Work? 

Are you a current service member or a member of the Armed Forces who has developed hearing loss due to your time on active duty? If so, you’re not alone. It’s well documented that soldiers, sailors, and other personnel working in these conditions are exposed to higher rates of hearing loss, which is why the use of earplugs is so important. But as many of these veterans have discovered, the very gear they turned to to protect their hearing left them with long-lasting hearing loss issues. 

The 3M earplugs defective product claims process can be overwhelming for a person who has just realized that the 3M earplugs given to them during the time they were in military service caused them significant hearing damage or problems. Unfortunately, as many people in the 3M earplugs defective product claims process have identified, it can be very difficult to recover compensation from an entity that created a defective or dangerous product. Millions of civilians and military service members from the U.S. were deployed between 2002 and 2015 as part of the war on terror.

As with all things related to the military standard issue materials and gear were given to these service members to enable them to do their jobs. The Department of Defense gave 3M dual ended combat arms earplugs to nearly all military men and women for hearing protection. Unfortunately, as was revealed after the fact, this hearing protection was not effective and exposed military service members to injuries in the form of hearing loss. Because the earplugs did not fit properly or provide the protection level expected, many veterans have come forward to open a lawsuit as part of the 3M earplugs defective product claims process. It is important for anyone who is beginning this process to gain the support of an experienced effective product attorney to understand their rights.

What Is Hearing Loss? 

Hearing loss is a broad term used to explain when someone’s hearing is impaired in any way. As with vision loss, this occurs on a spectrum and a person who has mild hearing loss probably doesn’t have the same impact in their day to day life as a person who has almost total hearing loss. This happens when there is a problem with one or more parts of the ears, the portion of the brain that controls hearing, or the nerves coming from the ears. Some people might not be able to hear anything at all but others can still detect some sounds. While hearing loss is a general term, others might refer to it as deafness, being deaf, or being hard of hearing. Sometimes this situation happens due to older age or another medical issue, but hearing loss is a big concern with certain types of jobs where the worker might hear loud sounds on a regular basis. 

Hearing Loss for Military Members 

It is believed that more than 2 million military members suffered from tinnitus and hearing loss as a result of the defect in the 3M dual-sided earplugs. Soldiers are often subjected to loud noises as part of their training and combat. When serving in combat zones, these service members are given standard issue earplugs to help guard their hearing. Unfortunately, the possible issues with the earplugs were not disclosed to the department of defense or to the military service members who used them.

As a result they were not appropriately protected from loud noises during combat. Many men and women who have served in the military during the time period listed above were exposed to high intensity or impulse noise, meaning that they have developed hearing loss or tinnitus. 

Understanding Compensation

Already thousands of US military members have opened legal claims because they have sustained permanent hearing loss after service. Many of them have the same allegations as part of their 3M earplugs defective product claims process.

They believe that the manufacturer knew or should have known about the defects in these products and that this left the service members unknowingly exposed to risks. A whistleblower lawsuit that was filed through the false claims act against 3M in 2016 argued that 3M knowingly sold and manufactured defective earplugs to armed forces. This put soldiers at extensive risk of hearing damage or loss according to the lawsuit. The seal was not effective on these 3M earplugs. Meaning that service members were exposed to dangerously loud noises that penetrated their ears. In July 2018, an agreement was reached between 3M and the federal government in which the manufacturer agreed to pay over $9 million in a settlement to resolve the allegations. But this only addressed the allegations of the sales made to the federal government, not the military personnel who were ultimately harmed by the defective earplugs.

The earplugs were not properly designed, meaning that they could become dislodged in the ear allowing very high levels of noise to enter the ear canal and increasing the risk of hearing damage. An exclusive military contract meant that these were the only earplugs provided to the military since 2003. This prevented competition for the government's business, which allowed the whistleblower claim lawsuit to open. 

Understanding the Basics of Hearing Loss

Many service members who used these earplugs suffered partial or total deafness, buzzing or ringing sounds in the ears or continuous tinnitus that causes hissing, roaring, buzzing or clicking sounds. The elevated levels of day to day work as a military service member in terms of noise are all related to these dangerous injuries. In fact, more than half of all veterans today report some degree of hearing loss due to their service. Plenty of veterans might not realize that this could be due to ear plugs that did not properly fit. Service members are aware of all of the gear they need to wear while at work, and this includes the standard issue ear plugs. 

Military service members who served in the war in Somalia, the second war in Iraq, the war in Afghanistan, the Yemen civil war, the Libya crisis, the war on terror in Northwest Pakistan and an operation enduring freedom and operation ocean shield could all be eligible to open a lawsuit in the 3M earplugs defective product claims process.

Hearing Loss Symptoms 

Hearing loss can be associated with an acute episode of loud noise such as the blast of a bomb or continuous and long-term exposure to high noise levels. The symptoms often begin subtly such as having difficulty hearing what other people are saying when the hearing loss becomes severe and permanent; however, it can become very difficult for veterans to carry on conversations without using a sound amplification device. The common symptoms of tinnitus include roaring, buzzing, ringing and hissing sounds in the user's ears and many are diagnosed while they are still in service although some get diagnosed as part of their veterans benefits. A hearing aid might help some people who have developed tinnitus. You may be eligible to receive monetary damages associated with negligent earplug manufacturer 3M.

For anyone in the military, the gear used to help them through training and through combat situations can literally mean life or death. The government contracts with various companies that provide this gear and services to help make these situations as safe as possible for members of the service. This is why it is especially alarming that a company making earplugs designed to minimize hearing loss used defective products and had an exclusive contract with the US government for years putting US service members at risk. 

Do I Have a Legal Claim? 

Most veterans who report hearing loss learn about this during the course of their service or as they are processing out of the service. Many of them have found that hearing loss impacts their day-to-day life. Some of them might have difficulty hearing things at work or have difficulty in interpersonal conversations due to their hearing loss. Some of them might assume that this is due to the natural impacts of aging or other issues. However, if you were active in the service period listed above and develop hearing loss due to your time there, you might want to investigate the ability to bring a legal claim.

Other veterans have stepped forward in an effort to hold 3M accountable for these earplug-related issues. If your doctor has diagnosed you with hearing loss, consider taking the next step in the earplug defective product claims process. 

If you believe that it was the fault of your earplugs that you were told to wear in terms of the hearing loss you suffered, you could be an important part of the movement of veterans today wanting to hold 3M responsible for this serious safety concern. You put forward a lot of sacrifice for your country and were already exposed to high risks on the job; you should not also have to cope with the consequences of using materials that were not properly created or made for their primary purpose of preventing hearing loss. 

You can fill out a simple contact form in under a minute, and receive a free, no-obligation case evaluation from the experts at Morgan & Morgan to get started.

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