Can You Sue for Hearing Damage?
- Zanes Law Web Team
- July 4, 2019
- 3M Defective Earplugs
You have the right to sue for hearing damage if another party’s negligence caused your injury.
Veterans Are Suing 3M for Hearing Damage Due to Defective Earplugs
After the U.S. government emerged from a lawsuit against 3M with a settlement payout of $9.1 million for the company’s defective military earplugs, thousands of veterans followed suit. Because the questions of fact are so similar for military personnel who suffered hearing damage from the Combat Arms Earplugs version 2 (CAEv2), the cases were centralized and transferred to a U.S. District Court, where pretrial matters will be decided for all cases. Many cases will be either dismissed or settled within this Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) court.
Civilians Can Also Sue for Hearing Damage From 3M Earplugs
3M was the exclusive supplier of earplugs for the U.S. military from 2003 to 2015, which explains why we hear so much about veterans’ lawsuits against the manufacturer. But this does not mean that only servicemembers and veterans can sue 3M for hearing damage from these earplugs.
There are many scenarios in which a civilian who suffers hearing damage can sue, and we shall explain some of these situations here.
3M’s Decision Not to Recall Left Defective Devices on the Market
Since 2000, 3M knew about the defects in their earplugs that rendered the devices ineffective, and yet the company did not recall the earplugs. Instead, 3M decided to discontinue this particular line of earplugs. In other words, they left these defective devices out in the marketplace, sitting on shelves, ready to be sold to whoever liked the flexible protection promised in this dual-ended earplug and had no idea about the dangers of using it.
Any contractor, gun enthusiast, or construction worker could easily pop into a military surplus store and pick up packages of the CAEv2 way past the date that 3M stopped making the earplugs.
Furthermore, the Combat Arms earplugs were previously available for purchase on Amazon from 3M resellers and distributors. Anyone could purchase the devices there, secure in the knowledge that the earplugs are, according to the product description, “used by the military and NATO.”
In any of these situations, where a civilian purchased and used the CAEv2 and has been diagnosed with hearing damage because of the product’s defects, the consumer has the right to sue 3M for damages.
Suing for Work-Related Hearing Damage
Usually, hearing damage caused on the job is recovered via a workers’ compensation claim. In these cases, the workers’ compensation payout serves as the employee’s only recourse for recovering damages for their injury.
Exceptions to this rule do exist, of course.
Willful OSHA Violation
If your employer has been warned by an OSHA inspector about a workplace safety hazard and ignores the warning, they could be liable for injuries that occur as a result of that hazard.
For example, if OSHA were to advise your employer that the earplugs it is providing to workers are defective, and your employer continues to issue them as a hearing protection device for workers, your company may be liable for any hearing damage that you and your co-workers sustain as a result of using the earplugs.
Suing the Manufacturer as a Third Party
In some cases, an employer might in good faith offer hearing protection devices to employees, not knowing that the products are defective. If workers use such defective products, like the CAEv2 and suffer hearing damage as a result of their ineffectiveness, the employees can sue the manufacturer (in this case, 3M) for their hearing loss and related damages.
If You Suffer from Hearing Loss Due to Defective Hearing Protection Devices
Veterans can join the MDL case against 3M to recover damages for hearing loss they sustained while using the defective earplugs in service.
Similarly, civilians can file lawsuits against 3M to receive compensation for hearing damage they suffered as a result of using the company’s Combat Arms earplugs.
Zanes Law will do everything from A to Z to see that you get the compensation you deserve when you sue for hearing damage. Let us fight on your behalf in a 3M defective earplugs lawsuit. Call (833)-890-8329 for a free case review.
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