Earplugs are designed to protect the hearing of soldiers who are in combat and around guns and equipment that would otherwise cause damage to their hearing. Unfortunately, some of these earplugs did not work the way they were supposed to. They were defective and caused tinnitus and other damage to the hearing. The result is a 3M defective military earplugs lawsuit for those who have been victims of this situation.
The Issue with the 3M Earplugs
Soldiers who were in the military from 2002 were issued these Combat Arms Earplugs from 3M to use in combat. Many of them were exposed to damaging sounds even though they were wearing the earplugs.
This piece of equipment is designed to fit in the ear two ways. With one side, it is in the closed position to block all sounds or at least reduce the sound to a manageable level. In the other side, the plug is in the open position where they would block impulse sounds of explosions. In this open position, other sounds would still come through. It is in the open position that the damage was caused.
The design of the earplugs required the stems to create a tight seal in the ear. However, they were allegedly not long enough to work for every person, which allowed those impulse sounds from explosives to enter the ear.
Allegations against 3M say that the company knew of the defects when they purchased Aearo Technologies which is the maker of the plugs. However, they did not make any changes to the design and allowed them to be used in the contract with the US Military.
Damage to Hearing
Many service personnel suffer hearing damage from combat. They may also suffer from a condition called tinnitus, which causes a ringing in the ear. A secondary condition is depression or anxiety caused by the constant ringing.
Another serious condition results from hearing damage caused by explosions. It is not only the sound of the explosion but the pressure as well which causes issues. The condition is called auditory processing disorder. It can be more difficult to diagnose initially because you can hear sounds and pass tests for your hearing. However, you may not be able to interpret what you hear correctly.
For example, you may have difficulty with understanding what other people are saying. Your brain may not be able to interpret what you hear. Another example is when you hear multiple sounds and the brain cannot decipher the origin of the sound from background noise.
This condition makes it difficult to communicate, especially in crowds. They may have trouble with phone conversations or understanding someone who speaks fast. It can also be a problem to multi-task and try to listen to other people. It can even add difficulty to reading, speaking and writing.
What to Do
If you have suffered hearing loss and were a member of the military between 2002 and 2016, you may be eligible to receive compensation for your damages. Contact an experienced attorney who can help direct you in the next steps of this process.