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Servicemembers Who Developed Hearing Loss, Tinnitus, or Loss of Balance Could Be Eligible for Compensation

In 2019, the Department of Justice received $9.1 million from 3M to settle claims the company had sold defective earplugs to the U.S. military. The Dual-Ended Combat Arms Earplugs (CAEv2), supplied to servicemembers between 2003 and 2015, allegedly loosened while inside soldiers’ ears due to fit issues. 3M has been accused of selling these earplugs despite internal tests showing they were defective; while corporate communications suggested user instructions should be changed to guarantee the products were used effectively, there was no follow-through on this point. Therefore, the testing conditions used to certify the earplugs did not match in-field use. Servicemembers did not receive the promised benefits, and now many of them are suffering for it.

Hearing protection is necessary on the battlefield, where gunfire, artillery, and explosions far surpass safe decibel levels. The promise of 3M’s Dual-Ended Combat Arms Earplugs was hearing protection that didn’t impact communications between troops; one end of the earplug was meant to deaden all noise, while the other would let through commands and other discussions. In practice, the earplugs failed to selectively block noise, leaving users vulnerable in too-loud environments.

Now, servicemembers who depended on these earplugs for protection are experiencing hearing loss and related problems. If you are suffering from one of these issues after using 3M’s Dual-Ended Combat Arms Earplugs, you could be able to file for compensation. The company’s decision to release a defective product—especially to the brave troops who volunteer to defend our country—was unacceptable. Those behind this decision must be held accountable for their dishonesty.

Hearing Damage and Its Symptoms

The hearing damage caused by the defective 3M earplugs has manifested in 3 main ways among victims:

  • Tinnitus
  • Hearing Loss
  • Loss of Balance

While some cases are less serious than others, any type of hearing loss can disrupt someone’s life. In some cases, auditory processing issues can make it difficult to hold conversations or listen to instructions on the job. Tinnitus can also interfere with communications, as many patients find the non-stop noise extremely distracting. Partial or total hearing loss requires ongoing accommodations and healthcare for patients; it also makes navigating daily life more difficult. Between increased medical costs and the difficulties damaged hearing causes in patients’ lives, there is a clear argument for compensation. Data gathered from servicemembers who are now suffering from such issues shows the scope of the problem.

Tinnitus Caused by Hearing Damage

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has noted more veterans experience tinnitus than any other disability. The organization pays benefits to 2.7 million veterans for tinnitus, spending more than $1 billion annually on this issue alone.

Patients with tinnitus all hear “phantom” sounds when in quiet environments, but the condition’s presentation can vary. For some, the issue is specific to one ear; for others, it affects both. The pitch and volume of the phantom sounds can both vary, from a barely noticeable background hum to noises so loud they interfere with a patient’s hearing. Tinnitus is an irregular problem for some, but constant for others.

The noises tinnitus sufferers hear may include:

  • Buzzing
  • Clicking
  • Hissing
  • Humming
  • Ringing
  • Roaring

Unfortunately, there is no known treatment to cure tinnitus that was caused by hearing damage. A doctor may be able to help you find ways to cope with the inconvenience, but its effects will remain present in your life.

How Hearing Loss Affects Quality of Life

Aside from the very obvious medical costs and difficulties hearing loss causes in the workplace and relationships, it can also have intense mental and emotional impacts. A study of veterans found that, of those with tinnitus:

  • 72% also had an anxiety diagnosis
  • 59% also had a depression diagnosis
  • Veterans with one or both mental health issues had more severe tinnitus symptoms than patients without these diagnoses

Along with depression and anxiety, patients who suffer from tinnitus may also experience:

  • Struggles to concentrate
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Fatigue
  • Increased irritability/frustration
  • Memory issues
  • Mood swings
  • Stress

Such complications can impact nearly every part of a patient’s life and make it much harder for them to find enjoyable and fulfilling experiences. Those who are facing these difficulties can reach out to our team to learn about their options.

Take Legal Action Against 3M for Selling Defective Earplugs

3M’s executives made the decision to lie about the product they were offering to our troops so they could land a multi-million-dollar deal with the U.S Government. Now, thousands and thousands of lives have been affected by their negligence. Any servicemembers who are suffering hearing loss after using the Dual-Ended Combat Arms Earplugs made by 3M are eligible to file a lawsuit against the company. We urge you to take this opportunity so you can receive compensation to ease your current struggles.

By signing up to serve our country, you showed you were willing to risk your life for other Americans. However, the sacrifices made while serving should never include unnecessary injury caused by defective products. Our team at Richard Schwartz & Associates is here to stand up for the veterans who are now facing hearing difficulties due to the defective earplugs they were given. Please contact our team to learn more about your rights if you think you have a case.

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