3M Earplug Mass Tort Attorneys
If you developed a hearing-related medical problem or another adverse effect of defective 3M earplugs, do not hesitate to contact the defective consumer products attorneys of Wallace Miller. You might be entitled to financial compensation from the manufacturer. If you qualify, you could pursue an individual lawsuit or join a mass tort case with other plaintiffs.
Between 2003 and 2015, military members depended on earplugs manufactured by 3M Company. Soldiers could wear them during training and combat to protect their ears against loud noise, such as explosions and gunfire. The design of the earplugs was supposed to reduce or completely block out specific noises. However, a design defect caused the product to malfunction, leading to long-term complications for those who depended upon them for noise protection.
At Wallace Miller, we understand the consequences of using a product you trusted to protect you while serving your country. You thought the 3M earplugs would prevent hearing loss and other problems by blocking out unnecessary sounds. Unfortunately, you developed a hearing-related condition that affects every aspect of your life. You might have medical expenses you can’t afford and face significant financial strain.
You should not suffer because of someone else’s misconduct. The manufacturer is responsible for supplying military members with defective earplugs. Their error led to a design flaw that prevented the earplugs from working as intended. You have a right to hold the manufacturer liable and pursue compensation for your injury.
Call Wallace Miller at (312) 261-6193 today for your free consultation with one of our 3M earplug mass tort attorneys.
Understanding the Functionality of Dual-Ended Combat Arms Earplugs
3M company designed its dual-ended combat arms earplugs for soldiers to adjust how much sound they can hear while wearing them. Two options are available depending on the military member’s needs.
The first option is to use the olive-colored end of the earplug. This provides a closed or blocked position so the wearer can’t hear any noise around them.
The second option is to place the yellow ends of the earplugs in the ears. This open or unblocked position allows soldiers to hear people talking to them but reduces loud noises nearby.
The Effect of Noise on Hearing
The vibration from sound sends waves into a person’s ears. Pitch and loudness are the two primary aspects of sound. Noise is a type of sound that isn’t wanted or pleasant. Noise comes in various frequencies and loudness.
The ability to hear a high-pitched sound is more challenging when there’s background noise. That means some sound is unclear or seems distorted. High volume noises or prolonged exposure to noise can damage hearing and lead to hearing loss or tinnitus.
The most common hearing-related problems due to noise include:
- Hair cell damage – Repeated exposure to noise and sound can damage cells over time. Destruction of these cells can cause permanent hearing loss.
- Nerve damage – The auditory nerve transmits information regarding sound to a person’s brain. Damage to this nerve makes it difficult to hear in a noisy or loud area.
- Damage to membranes and cells – Cells and membranes in the inner ear are sensitive to loud noises. Damage could occur and lead to hearing-related issues.
- Temporary hearing loss – Exposure to loud noises could cause the cells in the cochlea to release a hormone that causes temporary hearing loss.
- Permanent hearing loss – Continuous or prolonged exposure to noises doesn’t allow the ear to repair damage to the cells and nerves. This results in permanent damage and hearing loss.
The Importance of Hearing in the Military
Military members must block out sounds that could harm their ears but still be able to hear people talking to them when in combat. Earplugs are the perfect solution to protect hearing while allowing soldiers to communicate with each other. Unfortunately, exposure to constant sounds and noise can cause hearing loss.
Although 3M earplugs allowed military members to carry out their duties and protect their ears, the defect in the design put their hearing at risk without them knowing. Since soldiers often hear intense noises, whether they’re in combat or training, hearing loss is a common problem.
Complications of Defective 3M Earplugs
Whether occasional or frequent, everyone in the military will encounter high levels of noise at some point during their careers. Protection is necessary to prevent hearing loss and similar conditions while the service member is deployed in another country. Exposure to gunfire, RPGs, engines, and other loud noises can cause a range of issues, including:
- Partial or total deafness
- Damage to nerves, cells, and membranes in the ear
- Varying levels of hearing loss
Wearing defective earplugs doesn’t give military members the protection they require. Aearo Technologies, Inc. and 3M Company knew about the risks associated with their earplugs but didn’t warn the public.
The flaw in the design of the earplug caused them to loosen without the wearer realizing it. Even though the loosening was undetectable by the wearer, it was enough to cause hearing-related problems. Even the slightest loosening puts a person’s hearing at risk.
Researchers also discovered a faulty seal on the earplugs. This allowed noise to travel into the soldiers’ ears while they used them.
Common Types of Hearing Loss
A reduction in a person’s ability to hear is called hearing loss or hearing impairment. Hearing loss can interfere with every aspect of daily life. Hearing sounds or understanding what people say during conversations can be challenging.
Damage to one or more parts of an ear can lead to hearing loss. The main types of hearing loss include:
- Sensorineural hearing loss – Sensorineural hearing loss is the most common type of permanent hearing loss. It results from an external injury, such as a loud noise like an explosion.
- Conductive hearing loss – Conductive hearing loss prevents sound from passing through the outer and middle parts of a person’s ear. It’s difficult to hear loud, muffled sounds and soft sounds.
- Mixed hearing loss – Conductive and sensorineural hearing loss happens at the same time. Mixed hearing loss typically occurs when there’s damage to the outer, inner, or middle ear or nerves leading to the brain.
Understanding the Effects of Tinnitus
Tinnitus is ringing or another noise in one or both ears. Members of the military commonly experience symptoms of tinnitus.
Two forms of tinnitus include:
- Subjective – Subjective tinnitus occurs when there are problems in the inner, middle, or outer ear. It causes sounds only the affected person can hear.
- Objective – Objective tinnitus typically results from conditions of the middle ear bone, muscle contractions, or damage to blood vessels. This noise has no external source. A doctor must perform an examination to discover the noises this type of tinnitus causes.
Besides a ringing, different types of phantom noises can also occur in the ears, such as:
The noises often vary in loudness. They can happen in only one ear or both simultaneously. The noises might also be constant or intermittent.
Compensation Available for Defective 3M Earplugs
You could file a lawsuit against Aearo or 3M for your injury that was caused by the defective earplugs. Pursuing legal action against a large manufacturer requires extensive preparation and knowledge of state laws. You should not attempt to seek compensation without the help of a lawyer.
Wallace Miller can take over the legal aspects of your case and handle every step on your behalf. We will prepare the legal documents, file your lawsuit, and create a strategy to try to reach the best possible result. You won’t have to deal with the complicated procedures yourself. You should take the time to focus on treating your symptoms and recovering from your injuries.
The compensation you receive might compensate you for your injury-related losses, such as:
- Medical bills
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Pain and suffering
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- Emotional distress
You could also recover punitive or exemplary damages in a lawsuit against the negligent manufacturer. This form of compensation is only available if you can provide clear and convincing evidence of the defendant’s misconduct based on the requirements in your state. For example, some states require proof of the defendant’s gross negligence or intentional conduct.
You could join a mass tort lawsuit if you’re eligible. Mass tort litigation involves multiple plaintiffs with injuries from the same defective product pursuing legal action against the same defendant.
Statute of Limitations for 3M Earplugs
Mass tort lawsuits don’t have a general statute of limitations. A statute of limitations is the law that specifies the timeframe you have to file a lawsuit against another party.
Every state has its own statute of limitations for defective product cases. You must initiate your lawsuit within the specified timeframe to pursue compensation for your injury.
Some states have one-year timeframes, while others give plaintiffs up to five years from the date of their injury to file suit. Wallace Miller will review your case and determine the statutory period that applies.
At Wallace Miller, we understand the economic burden you might face. Many people can’t afford their medical treatment and the cost of hiring a lawyer. We take cases on contingency, so you’re not responsible for upfront fees or costs. We won’t collect our legal fees unless we secure compensation for you. If we lose your case, you will never owe us anything.
Our 3M earplug mass tort attorneys will be your advocate during this difficult experience. We can protect your rights and fight by your side for the justice you deserve. You will receive personalized attention and support until the end.
Call Wallace Miller for your free consultation at (312) 261-6193 or reach out to us online if you suffered a hearing-related complication while using defective 3M earplugs.