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The symptoms of hearing loss resulting from the use of 3M military earplugs are the same as those of hearing loss caused by other factors. Affected individuals may perceive muffled or distorted sounds, experience ringing or buzzing sensations (tinnitus), and have difficulty discerning speech in noisy environments.
Hearing loss manifests through various indicators extending beyond mere difficulty hearing. The signs and symptoms of hearing impairment are far-reaching, with debilitating effects on a person’s social life, cognitive abilities, and emotional well-being.
A 3M Earplug hearing loss lawsuit lawyer from Zanes Law could review your case and explain your legal options.
Whatever the source of your ear damage, the signs and symptoms of the resulting hearing loss are the same. According to the Mayo Clinic, signs and symptoms of impaired hearing often include the following:
People with hearing loss due to noise exposure may notice a gradual or abrupt decline in their ability to perceive sounds, affecting their clarity and comprehension.
According to the Mayo Clinic, repetitive exposure to loud noises, especially at the levels of gunfire, aircraft, explosions, or heavy machinery, contributes to hearing loss. This exposure could happen during combat or other military work.
Fully aware of the high noise levels that soldiers endure as well as the negative consequences of this exposure, the U.S. military strove to minimize the risks of permanent ear damage in military personnel by issuing hearing protection devices like the 3M Combat Arms version 2 Earplugs, which were provided to servicemen and women from 2003 to 2015.
Unfortunately, the earplugs were defective, resulting in thousands of soldiers sustaining mild to severe hearing loss. Many veterans are now filing product liability lawsuits against 3M for knowingly selling defective devices to the Department of Defense (DOD) without warning soldiers of their defects.
Although the government plays a role in seeking compensation for affected veterans, the fault lies with the company that sold the defective earplugs to the military.
The defect is that the earplugs are too short, causing them to come loose from the ear canal without the user noticing.
The nature of this defect means that military personnel who used these earplugs unknowingly exposed themselves to unsafe noise levels they should have been protected from. The prolonged exposure can cause hearing damage, such as tinnitus or hearing loss.
In response to this defect, 3M had already reached a settlement before 2019 totaling over $9 million for those affected by the inadequate protection provided by their products. The 1A standard noise level is set at 88 decibels, and an attenuation test was determined when people inserted two of the 3M Combat earplugs.
Earplugs were reducing dangerous sound levels by an average of 11 decibels less than what was necessary instead of protecting them completely from those harmful sounds. This meant that those who trusted the devices were being exposed to more harmful noises than expected, which is assumed to have caused many to suffer hearing loss or tinnitus over time.
Because hearing loss is affected by the consistency and pressure impact of high noise levels, military personnel risk developing this condition when their ears are unprotected. Unfortunately, this happened to thousands of soldiers who used 3M Combat Arms earplugs.
Our sense of hearing connects us socially with the world around us. When we lose that connection, the resulting void profoundly affects our lives.
For starters, the very act of participating in a conversation becomes difficult. When you cannot understand what a person is saying, you cannot respond to questions or engage in thoughtful commentary.
The prospect of constantly asking people to repeat themselves is frustrating and embarrassing. Ultimately, a newly hearing-impaired person may withdraw from the conversation completely.
This withdrawal marks the first step toward isolation. Gradually, a person in this situation may find a conversation setting so uncomfortable that they avoid situations where a conversation is likely to transpire, and this only increases the feelings of separation and loneliness. Not surprisingly, such isolation and loneliness can eventually lead to depression.
When it comes to older veterans, hearing loss can introduce yet another undesirable consequence: cognitive impairment and decline.
Scientists at Johns Hopkins studied the effects of hearing loss on older test subjects over the course of six years. The scientists found that at the end of the study, cognitive decline occurred 30 to 40% faster in test subjects with hearing loss than in those with normal hearing.
The researchers concluded that social isolation could explain this direct relationship between hearing loss and cognitive decline. In fact, previous studies have already established that loneliness presents a risk factor for cognitive decline.
The degree of cognitive decline in the John Hopkins study was found to correlate with the extent of hearing loss each subject experienced.
Hearing loss is a serious issue for many military veterans. If you or a family member shows signs or symptoms of hearing loss or tinnitus from the defective 3M military earplugs, you deserve to receive compensation for the damages you have suffered.
The legal team at Zanes Law could help you sue for hearing damage. Let our product liability attorneys help you file a 3M defective earplugs lawsuit and get you closer to the justice you deserve. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation case review.
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