Thousands of US military veteran suffer from hearing loss due to the results of explosives and gunshots at a close range. To protect our nation’s soldiers, all branches of the military supply personnel with earplugs intended to protect wearers from dangerous noise levels. However, from 2003-2015, earplugs manufactured by 3M and provided to active duty service members that are alleged to have a faulty design that led to hearing loss. When you suffer an injury because a piece of safety equipment fails to protect you from the hazard it was meant to protect, you can pursue financial compensation for your related losses through a defective product claim.
How were Service Members Injured?
The primary injuries service members suffered as a result of the defective 3M earplugs are partial or total hearing loss, and tinnitus, a chronic buzzing, or ringing sound in the ears. In 2017, the VA reported 81,529 new claims of hearing loss and 159,800 new claims of tinnitus. Hearing loss and tinnitus are not the only injuries veterans suffer as a result of these defective earplugs. The results can take a severe psychological toll, and cause anxiety disorders, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Do you Qualify for Compensation from 3M?
Only veterans who were issued the earplugs during their service are entitled to recover compensation for their damages from 3M.
The earplugs were standard issue for service members during the following conflicts:
- The Iraq War
- The War in Afghanistan
- The War in Somalia
- War in North-West Pakistan
- Operation Ocean Shield in the Indian Ocean
- US Intervention in Libya
- US Intervention in Iraq
- US Intervention in Syria
- Yemeni Civil War
These conflicts occurred between 2003-2015. Serving during that time frame does not automatically qualify a soldier for this claim. They must have been deployed to one or more of the above conflicts and later diagnosed with tinnitus or hearing loss order to be eligible for damage compensation.
3M can only be found liable for a veteran’s hearing loss damages when the veteran can prove his hearing loss only occurred because of 3M’s defective product. Ensure that you have sufficient proof that their hearing loss was diagnosed while they were enlisted in the military or shortly thereafter – a diagnosis that came much later could be attributed to other causes, potentially making a claim impossible to prove. When you are considering filing a defective product claim, always remember that there is no guarantee you will recover compensation for your losses.
Which Damages Can You Pursue with a Defective Product Claim?
In a Personal injury case, damages are the compensation a claimant receives to cover the losses related to the injury the individual sustained. While no amount is guaranteed, damages can be awarded for any of the following reasons:
- Special damages- compensation for quantifiable losses such as:
- lost wages due to an inability to work, out-of-pocket medical expenses, projected future medical costs, household expenses, and costs associated with the lifestyle changes necessitated by the injury
- General damages- compensation the injured veteran can recover for non-quantifiable losses such as:
- mental and emotional anguish, pain and suffering (which can include chronic ear strain and discomfort), and loss of consortium and companionship (loss experienced by veteran’s spouse and other close loved ones)
Additionally, you might be able to recover punitive damages from 3M, which is compensation paid to punish the negligent party involved in a claim.
Documents That Can Support Your Claim
- Documentation showing the dates of your military service, such as a copy of your service record
- A copy of your medical record showing your diagnosis
- Documentation showing the cause of your hearing loss or other auditory disability, such as comments from your doctor discussing your exposure to unsafe noise levels
- Documentation of the treatment you have received so far and any ongoing treatment you need
- Commentary from a mental healthcare provider discussing your emotional and mental state due to the disability
- Journal entries and other records showing the emotional toll your disability has taken on you and your loved ones
- Proof of your disability compensation from the VA
Contact Us for a Free Consultation
If you or a loved one are suffering from hearing loss after serving in the US military during the years mentioned above, schedule your free consultation with Van Law Firm at (702) 529-1011 today to determine whether you have grounds for a defective product claim.