Military service members suffer hearing loss and tinnitus (a ringing or buzzing in the ears) more than any other injury according to Stephen Carlson, a former Army infantryman, in a 2016 Washington Post article. While hearing problems can affect anyone, military men and women are put in situations with a much higher risk to their eardrums. Exposure to explosions, gunfire, high-capacity engines, and various other high-volume sounds from both training and combat can inflict serious, even permanent damage over a long period of time.
As demonstrated in the 3M Combat Arms Earplugs lawsuit settled in 2018, methods to prevent long-term hearing loss and tinnitus are largely important for protecting military veterans from damage later in life. Hearing damage can affect an individual’s entire life, including service time and personal life even after retirement.
The Cost of Hearing Loss for Military Veterans
Losing hearing has a huge impact on quality of life. While it can be minor in some cases, for troops who are deployed several times, the hearing loss can become a true disability.
It’s not just about grandpa asking you to repeat something a second time. Veterans of all ages are may find social interactions difficult or embarrassing after hearing damage. Conversations are hard when you miss too much and can’t participate like everyone else. Making small talk, meeting new people, and having to ask even family members to repeat themselves can be isolating and lonely.
According to a 2011 study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, which looked at 90,000 veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan between 2006 and 2007 getting VA care, hearing loss and tinnitus affected 16.4 to 26.6% of male veterans and 7.3 to 13.4% of female veterans. Ringing in your ears can be annoying for anyone after a loud event like a concert, but a veteran with tinnitus has to experience it all time.
There are common solutions like surgery or hearing aids, but even those don’t always offer sufficient help for veterans with hearing damage.
In addition, hearing protection is now standard and mandatory for service members, including noise-cancelling headphones and combat earplugs to block out high-decibel sounds. But a lawsuit over defects in the 3M Combat Arms Earplugs Version 2, which were used by almost all military members between 2003 and 2015, left thousands of military veterans unprotected from hearing damage.
Veterans Suffer Hearing Loss From Defect 3M Combat Arms Earplugs
In July 2018, 3M company paid the government $9.1 million as settlement for defective earplugs they made and sold to the U.S. military without disclosing any issues. Here are the details of the lawsuit:
- 3M (and its predecessor, Aero Technologies) was the exclusive provided of 3M Combat Arms Earplugs Version 2 (CAEv2) to military service members in Iraq and Afghanistan between the years of 2003 and 2015
- The dual-ended earplugs were claimed to provide dual protection from noise. One side of the earplugs was meant to block out all sounds, while the other side allowed soldiers to communicate with comrades while still providing protection from loud combat noises
- The earplugs were found to be defective and too short to properly insert into the user’s ear, making them useless in truly protecting soldiers’ ears from noise damage
Although the lawsuit was settled and 3M paid out, many individual military veterans are living with hearing loss and/or tinnitus every day from the 3M earplugs defect. If you or a loved one has been affected by the 3M defective earplugs, you need a 3M Combat Arms Earplugs lawsuit lawyer on your side. We can help you if you:
- Served in the U.S. military any time between 2003 and 2015
- Used the standard-issue 3M Combat Arms Earplugs Version 2 (CAEv2)
- Now suffer from hearing loss or tinnitus
While earplugs may not be a foolproof way to avoid all hearing-related damage, they were issued for a reason: to help reduce damage from high-decibel sounds for service members during training and combat situations. The defective earplugs failed to provide the protection that was expected for 12 years. If you were affected by these 3M earplug mistakes, don’t delay seeking justice for the pain and damage you’ve suffered as a result. Contact an experienced lawyer today.
Free Consultation with a 3M Combat Arms Earplugs Lawyer
If you or a loved one has hearing loss after using the 3M earplugs while serving in the military between 2003 and 2015, you may be eligible to receive financial recovery. At John Foy & Associates, we can help you fight for your rights. For a FREE consultation to discuss your eligibility and the details of the case, contact us today. Call us at 404-400-4000, or fill out the form to the right as soon as possible for your free consultation.