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Can You Sue the Makers of the Earplugs for Hearing Damage?

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People & Lifestyle

Can You Sue the Makers of the Earplugs for Hearing Damage?

While we have been blessed with plenty of senses, hearing has got to be the most special of them all. It allows you to listen to music and engage in conversation with ease. This is why it is extremely important to protect your hearing at all costs. You’ll find that it is always advisable not to listen to music at high volumes because this might cause hearing loss or permanent problems. In extreme conditions, like war, combatants are obligated to wear earplugs to protect their hearing from loud noises that could do some serious damage in the long run. But what if those earplugs were defective? In that case, can and should you sue the makers of the earplugs?

What problems are associated with defective earplugs?

If you are using defective earplugs amid loud noise, you are exposing yourself to several serious complications. Military personnel, in particular, are susceptible to suffering from these problems since the nature of their job puts them around high-decibel sounds like gunshots and explosions. This kind of noise can lead to problems in the long run, like tinnitus. This is basically when you start feeling like there’s noise or ringing in your head, altering your perception of sound and completely distorting the inputs you get. 

Symptoms of tinnitus vary from one person to the other, depending on several factors like age, health, duration of exposure to noise, and others. Most suffering from this condition experience buzzing, humming, hissing, or other sounds in their ears. 

Why are special earplugs essential for military personnel? 

An average person would use earplugs to block out any noise coming from outside sources, to sleep on planes, or to work in crowded places. Unfortunately, this won’t work with a service person, because the kind of noise they are exposed to is much different from the kind you will experience on a plane or a crowded café. Moreover, even if you get a good kind of earplugs, those will block all noise coming from outside sources, which also isn’t very practical for a soldier since they need to hear commands and communicate with other military personnel.

So, military-grade earplugs have a special design that lets all noise in, while blocking out damaging noise like gunfire and explosions. This is important because a soldier will also need to be able to listen to the quieter sounds like an enemy sneaking in from behind them, so the earplugs have to block out only the heavy noise. And that is what makes them essential for members of the armed forces. 

How do these earplugs malfunction? 

As mentioned earlier, they are supposed to block out all the heavy noise. Unfortunately, in certain cases like the one we’ll discuss further below, the earplugs didn’t serve their function, and they allowed dangerously loud sounds to seep in, causing permanent damage to the people wearing them. 

The problem with these earplugs is the fact that they were too short to fit in all soldiers’ ears. So, with time and action, they would gradually loosen and were hence unable to provide the level of protection those soldiers needed. 

Can you sue the makers of the earplugs? 

In a nutshell, yes. This is what happened with the U.S. military in a case that has attracted media attention for the past few years. Apparently, soldiers who served between 2003 and 2015 were all issued a pair of yellow and green defective earplugs, causing several veterans to sue the makers of the earplugs later on because they started having hearing problems and suffering from tinnitus as well as other conditions. Until this very day, thousands of veterans have filed lawsuits, citing their hearing impairment and the fact that the company issued earplugs that didn’t serve their function. And if you happen to be among the people who were issued those earplugs, then you should also sue for compensation. 

What kind of compensation are you eligible for?

A lot of military service members filed lawsuits against the manufacturer of those earplugs, a company called 3M, as the veterans claimed the company knowingly provided the defective products to thousands of soldiers. So, if you were one of those, you are eligible for some form of compensation. You could receive money for your medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages in the past or future, permanent or temporary disability, punitive damages, and loss of enjoyment of life. 

To obtain that compensation, you need to get yourself a lawyer to help you sue the company. The first thing you need to figure out is whether the terms of those particular cases apply to you. If that is the case, then you should immediately seek out attorneys to help you reclaim what is rightfully yours and get compensation for the terrible problem you have been inflicted with. 

How should military grade earplugs fit?

The 3M earplugs were too short, so they ended up causing hearing loss of thousands of soldiers. So, how are military-grade earplugs supposed to fit? For starters, they should be able to easily fit in your ears, making sure they’re completely blocked. If they are indeed the right shape and size, the earplugs will form a kind of seal alongside the skin of your outer ear canal. When that happens, they will give you the ability to hear yourself talk out loud, though the sound will be a bit muffled. They’d also block out any gunfire, aircraft, or explosion noises while letting everything else go in, which will keep your ears protected and safe during combat. 

What happened to 3M?

A case was filed in 2018 against them, and it was settled with the government for millions of dollars. Unfortunately, the veterans didn’t see any of the money. This is why you should file a separate lawsuit if you’re certain you were issued these earplugs and are indeed suffering from hearing problems. 

It is your right and obligation to sue for damages if you have suffered because of those defective earplugs. The case might take months, even years, but that shouldn’t stop you from demanding your rights. With the right attorney and the adequate amount of evidence, you will eventually get the proper compensation that you’re entitled to.

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Ameyaw Kissi Debrah, known professionally as Ameyaw Debrah, is a Ghanaian celebrity blogger, freelance journalist, and reporter.

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