Hearing impairments among US veterans is a major concern. Combat and military training expose service members to high-decibel sounds that lead to hearing loss. And unfortunately, the 3M Company lawsuit revealed that many military members’ ears have not received proper protection in recent years.
The lawsuit led current service members (and veterans) to wonder if the earplugs they use meet safety standards. Here is how you can tell if your earplugs comply with military standards.
What Are “Military Standard” Earplugs?
Traditional earplugs block damaging noises from entering the user’s ear canal. This is ideal for most situations, but military conditions are different. Blocking out all sounds prevents communication between service members and commands from generals.
For this reason, military-standard earplugs need level-dependent functions. Earplugs should contain a small filter that eliminates loud, damaging noises (like gunfire and explosions) while allowing soft sounds to come through.
Other types of equipment like headphones or helmets provide some noise reduction, but they are harder to transport and don’t give the same protection as military-grade earplugs.
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How Do I Know if My Military-Issue Earplugs Comply?
The most important thing to know is that the defective earplugs (3M Combat Arms earplugs) are no longer used by the US armed forces. They were used exclusively from 2003-2015 and have since been removed. So, unless you are using older earplugs issued years ago or bought them secondhand, you should not need to worry about using the defective combat earplugs that led to over $9 million in lawsuit settlements.
How Should Military Standard Earplugs Fit?
The main problem with the 3M Combat Arms Earplugs was that they did not fit properly. A safe earplug should:
- Fit snugly in your ear canal (so it’s completely blocked) and form a seal with the skin of the outer ear canal
- Allow you to talk out loud and hear your voice as slightly muffled
- Produce light vacuum pressure in the ear canal
If you are unsure, have a specialist look at the fit of the earplugs. Some earplugs can have issues that are not noticeable to the user, which is what happened with the 3M Combat Arms Earplugs.
How Were 3M Combat Arms Earplugs Harmful?
3M Company created dual-ended earplugs for the US military between 2003 and 2015. These earplugs, known as the 3M Combat Arms Earplugs Version 2 (CAEv2), were created specifically for military service members.
Each device had two sides with different functions. They intended to provide level-dependant protection, blocking out loud noises like gunfire and explosions while still letting the user hear softer sounds like communication with fellow soldiers.
These earplugs were intended to allow service members to protect their ears while still communicating in their line of duty. But in 2016, a whistleblower brought a lawsuit against 3M through the False Claims Act, alleging the earplugs were defective.
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The 3M Combat Arms Lawsuit
According to the lawsuit, the 3M Combat Arms Earplugs were too short to properly fit into the soldiers ’ ears. Therefore, they would gradually loosen no fail to provide adequate hearing protection. Between 2003 and 2015, the earplugs were sold to the US military and used by its members. 3M did not disclose the defect to the government, even though they allegedly knew about it since 2000.
The lawsuit was settled in 2018, but thousands of service members and veterans sustained hearing damage from the defective earplugs.
The need for military-standard earplugs should not be taken lightly, as hearing loss can affect a person’s entire life and is one of the biggest insurance claims made by veterans. If you or a loved one were affected by the 3M earplugs defect, you need an experienced 3M Combat Arms Earplugs Lawsuit lawyer to help you seek financial recovery.
Were You Affected by the 3M Combat Arms Earplugs Defect?
You might be eligible to seek recovery for damages from the 3M earplugs lawsuit if you are a veteran who:
- Served in the US military between 2003 and 2015
- Used the 3M Combat Arms Earplugs Version 2 (CAEv2)
- Have been diagnosed with hearing loss or tinnitus
Consult With a Professional Lawyer Now
We know the importance of protecting the rights of all US citizens. Our legal experts help victims of defective products seek the financial recovery they deserve. For a free consultation to talk about your situation and your options, contact us. Call 404-400-4000 or fill out our online contact form now.