Since the advent of rock and roll, many a parent has told their son or daughter to turn down the music. While this is partly due to the annoyance it causes mothers and fathers, it is also to protect teens’ ears. Many people are frequently exposed to sounds more than loud enough to damage their hearing, forcing them to rely on earplugs to cut down on the amount of noise that reaches their inner ear.
This is especially true in the construction industry and among soldiers fighting overseas. Unfortunately, not all earplugs work as intended. 3M recently came under fire after their earbuds were revealed to be defective, endangering the hearing of thousands of soldiers who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and possibly contributing to medical issues like tinnitus and noise-induced hearing loss, or NIHL.
If you or someone you know suffers from hearing problems after using 3M earplugs, the company may be responsible for the condition. Randolph Rice, former assistant state’s attorney, can help you determine if you have a cause of action in your 3M earplug injury case in Maryland. Call (410) 694-7291 today for a free consultation.
Dangers of Exposure to Loud Noises
It does not take much noise to damage the ears and reduce your ability to hear. Prolonged exposure to sounds above 85 decibels can damage the tiny hairs in the ear that allow you to hear; for reference, 85 decibels is about the amount of noise on a busy city street. If you work in an environment with heavy machinery, loud speakers, or other sources of intense noise, you probably rely on products like 3M earplugs to dampen the sounds and protect your hearing.
The effects of these sonic assaults are usually cumulative, meaning that they get worse with repeated exposure over a long period time, though they can also appear after coming into contact with extremely loud sounds. The effects of this exposure can last long after the initial noise has stopped, and any damage to the ear hairs, nerves, or membranes can be permanent. The most common results of this damage are tinnitus – which most often manifests as a persistent ringing sound – and noise-induced hearing loss, or NIHL.
Effects on American Service Members
The dangers associated with loud noises are especially prevalent for soldiers, many of whom spend a significant portion of their service around gunfire or explosions that can cause irreparable damage to the inner ear. In fact, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has reported that tinnitus is the most prevalent disability among American veterans.
For some of those suffering from the condition, the ringing is little more than an annoyance, but many others experience complications that range from the minor to the serious. Mental health issues including anxiety and depression can arise in those suffering from tinnitus, and the condition can be worse among those with post-traumatic stress disorder, more commonly called PTSD. Hundreds of thousands of service members are vulnerable to this condition and are therefore forced to rely on their earplugs to prevent these significant medical issues.
How 3M Earplugs Have Shown to be Defective
In July 2018, it was announced that 3M had agreed to pay the government more than $9 million over allegations that the company had knowingly sold defective earplugs to the Defense Logistics Agency, part of the Department of Defense that manages supplies for American troops in every branch of service. The federal government alleged that 3M knew its double-ended Combat Arms Earplugs, Version 2, were too short to properly fit into soldiers’ ears and create the seal necessary to prevent loud sounds from entering the inner ear.
This error was imperceptible in many cases, meaning that soldiers were damaging their ears without realizing it. It is therefore possible that soldiers who used these earplugs during combat operations could have suffered lasting damage and not realized that their earplugs were to blame. If you think this may be your situation, contact a skilled legal representative today.
What to Know About Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit in Maryland
Though there may be similarities between the procedures, the steps to file a personal injury lawsuit can vary between states. In Maryland, for example, the state’s statute of limitations gives plaintiffs a three-year time window to file a personal injury lawsuit; in Pennsylvania, however, the window is only two years. Failure to file the lawsuit within this period will almost certainly result in the dismissal of the case, though there are a few exceptions.
While the clock on the statute of limitations typically begins counting down on the date the initial injury was sustained, deception on the part of the defendant can extend the deadline. In effect, if the injured person could not have been reasonably expected to discover their injury or its cause at the time it happened, the clock begins running on the day that information comes to light. Because 3M did not disclose the defect in their earplugs until well after the damage was done to thousands of service members, those who could not have known about the company’s negligence will still have the opportunity to seek justice.
Maryland Attorney for People Injured by Defective 3M Earplugs
Just as American service members defend our country, so too are those men and women entitled to the protections afforded under U.S. law. If you served overseas between 2003 and 2015 and are struggling with hearing loss or tinnitus, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. The team at the law offices of Randolph Rice stand ready to fight for your rights. To schedule a free consultation with a Maryland injury lawyer, call (410) 694-7291 today.