Defective 3M Earplugs Associated with Hearing Loss
Aearo Technologies Inc. began marketing earplugs for members of the military in 2003. In 2008, 3M Company bought the manufacturer and continued to provide the earplugs for soldiers to protect their hearing during combat.
Exposure to loud noises, such as explosions and gunfire, is common for military members during combat and training. 3M earplugs are supposed to protect a person’s hearing by blocking out most of the noise around them.
Unfortunately, many former military personnel have suffered severe injuries, including hearing loss, due to the defective design of the earplugs.
How 3M Combat Earplugs Work
The design of the 3M earplugs allows soldiers to adjust the amount of sound they hear. Military members can wear the earplugs in one of two ways:
- Use the olive-colored end of the earplug for a closed or blocked position to drown out all surrounding sounds
- Use the yellow end for an open or unblocked position to reduce loud noises nearby but allow the soldier to hear a person talking to them
Why Earplugs Are Essential to Military Personnel
Soldiers need to remain alert during combat while also communicating clearly with others. Unfortunately, exposure to extreme noises and sounds while training on base and while working in combat zones can affect hearing.
Hearing loss and other issues affecting the eardrums have been a common problem among members of the military. Using earplugs can help block unnecessary and damaging noise.
The manufacturer of 3M earplugs designed them precisely for this use. The product allows everyone to protect their eardrums without compromising their ability to perform their duties.
Common Complications of 3M Earplugs
Most people in the military have to deal with frequent or occasional exposure to high-frequency noises. Anyone deployed to another country to participate in combat needs earplugs to prevent hearing loss.
Exposure to sounds caused by gunfire, RPGs, engines, and other sources can result in a range of medical problems, such as:
- Eardrum damage
- Varying degrees of hearing loss
Hearing Loss Caused by Defective 3M Earplugs
Hearing loss, also referred to as hearing impairment, occurs when a person experiences a reduction in their hearing abilities. Hearing loss can interfere with every part of life, including communicating with others.
Hearing loss starts when there’s damage to one or multiple parts of the ear. The three main types of hearing loss include:
- Sensorineural – Sensorineural hearing loss involves the inner ear. It’s also the most common permanent type. Typically, external injuries, such as explosions, cause it.
- Conductive – This type of hearing loss occurs when there’s damage to the outer or middle ear. Conductive hearing loss often prevents someone from hearing muffled and soft sounds.
- Mixed – Mixed hearing loss involves conductive and sensorineural. The two types happen simultaneously. Damage to the outer, middle, or inner ear or damage to the nerves leading to the brain can lead to mixed hearing loss.
Tinnitus Caused by Defective 3M Earplugs
Tinnitus is another common problem experienced by military members. This medical condition causes a ringing sound in the ears. It can also cause other noises, such as:
The noises a person hears can be in one or both ears and remain constant or come and go randomly. They can also vary in how loud they are.
Two types of tinnitus include:
- Objective – Objective tinnitus often results from conditions of the middle ear bone, muscle contractions, or damaged blood vessels.
- Subjective – Only the person suffering from subjective tinnitus can hear the sounds. It’s due to problems in the outer, inner, or middle ear.
Link Between 3M Earplugs and Hearing Loss
Researchers discovered two major issues with 3M earplugs.
The earplugs were too short, causing them to loosen slightly, exposing the wearer’s ear to loud noises without them realizing that a problem had occurred. Even the tiniest movement of the earplug can leave a soldier’s hearing unprotected.
A faulty seal on the earplugs also allowed noise to travel through despite the user wearing them correctly.
Current and former military personnel claim that Aearo Technologies and 3M were aware of the harm the product could cause but hid the adverse effects. The manufacturers placed profits over the safety of military members.
Compensation You Can Pursue for Hearing Loss
You can file a lawsuit against 3M Company for the injuries you sustained while using its defective earplugs. The compensation you receive could compensate you for the various losses you suffered, such as:
- Pain and suffering
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
- Medical bills
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
You could also recover punitive damages if your case meets these requirements:
- The manufacturer is liable for the losses you suffered; and
- You can present evidence of the manufacturer’s willful or wanton conduct, malice, or fraud.
Contact DeMayo Law Offices Today
If you sustained an injury or developed hearing loss from using defective 3M earplugs, do not hesitate to contact DeMayo Law Offices for a free consultation.
We have represented clients like you since 1992. You can depend on our legal team to fight by your side for the justice and compensation you deserve.
Call right now at (877) 333-1000.