When our military heroes put their lives on the line to defend our freedoms, we trust the equipment they use is going to protect them from unnecessary harm. However, this is not always the case. Defective products, like the 3M Dual-Ended Combat Arms™ earplugs, put United States military members in harm’s way. Now, veterans across the country are seeking justice.
The History of 3M Earplug Use
The Minnesota-based company, 3M, sold their Dual-Ended Combat Arms™ earplugs to the United States Military between 2003 and 2015. The double-tipped earplugs were designed to function as traditional earplugs blocking loud impulse sounds while allowing the user to hear their fellow soldiers and enemy combatants.
However, the earplugs were defective. The stems of the earplugs were too short to block damaging sounds effectively. After extended 3M earplug use, the earplugs would slip, causing these unsafe levels of sound to slip into the ear — leading to irrevocable damage to the user’s ears. Thousands of combat veterans are now suffering irreversible hearing damage and loss as a result.
Prevalence of Hearing Loss in Military Veterans
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, hearing loss and tinnitus are two of the most prevalent disabilities among veterans. Over one million vets received disability compensation for tinnitus in 2017 as a result of blast exposure. Due to the defective nature of the earplugs, soldiers who used 3M earplugs were (and are) more likely to suffer from damaged hearing as a result of the defective product.
What Injuries Are Caused by 3M Earplugs?
Traumatic damage to the ear can cause lifelong disabilities and emotional stress. According to a 2018 survey of scientific literature, hearing loss is associated with a reduced quality of life.
Other issues resulting from damaged hearing include:
- Tinnitus: A persistent ringing in the ears that causes extended emotional stress. It’s also a precursor to Auditory Processing Disorder (APD).
- Auditory Processing Disorder (APD): APD affects the central nervous system — specifically, how the brain understands speech. Veterans with APD have an especially hard time focusing on speech when there is background noise present.
- Hearing damage or loss: Hearing loss — a partial or total inability to perceive sounds lower than 25 decibels — is considered a serious disability. Hearing loss is even more critical when it occurs with other common post-deployment conditions, like PTSD or depression. While using a hearing aid can help the user regain the ability to distinguish sounds, there is no way to heal a damaged eardrum after the fact.
- Loss of balance: Damage to the inner ear, where balance centers are located, can affect the balance of someone who has suffered traumatic hearing loss. Loss of balance is not just unsteadiness on your feet — other symptoms often include dizziness, vertigo, nausea, and persistent stress.
If You Served in the Military from 2003-2015 and Used 3M Earplugs, You Could Be Entitled to Compensation
If you served in the military between 2003 and 2015 and have suffered because of your use of Dual-Ended Combat Arms™ earplugs, you deserve justice. In July of 2018, 3M agreed to pay $9.1 million to resolve allegations claiming they knowingly supplied defective earplugs to the United States military. Hundreds of veterans are now filing personal injury suits against 3M for their damages.
If you’ve suffered from using 3M earplugs, you could be entitled to compensation for:
- Medical bills related to your hearing loss
- Hearing aids and other equipment
- Income loss
- Suffering and emotional distress
Atkins & Markoff: Seeking Justice for Veterans
At Atkins & Markoff, we are proud to fight for justice for our military veterans. If you or someone you know has experienced hearing loss, damaged hearing, or a related condition after your service, please contact us today for a free case evaluation. Call (405) 607-8757 or complete this brief contact form to schedule your appointment today.
Nordvik, O., Laugen Heggdal, P., Brannstrom, J., Vassbotn, F., Aarstad, A. K., & Aarstad, H. J. (2018). Generic quality of life in persons with heraing loss: a systematic literature review. US National Library of Medicine. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5778781/
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.