VETERAN HEARING LOSS


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VA Hearing Loss Disability

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Due to a range of military action and tasks, veteran hearing loss and tinnitus are among the most common disabilities seen following military service. Some reports say up to 60 percent of active servicemen in the U.S. end up with some kind of ear injury, and veteran hearing loss claims are rising.

Not only are veterans imperiled by high-decibel situations, but claims of defective earplugs provided by the military and government contractors have worsened what was already a serious health risk to veterans.

Class action lawsuits have been filed against 3M for providing the military with ineffective and defectively designed combat earplugs for many years.

The 3M earplugs allegedly failed to provide protection against noise, and lead directly to tinnitus and veteran hearing loss. As a result, active duty servicemen and veterans have filed product liability lawsuits against 3M Company for the defective products, provided by the military since 2003. Plaintiffs claim the company knew of the limitations of their combat earplugs and failed to redesign them or warn of the potential defects.

Joe Lyon is an experienced Cincinnati, Ohio VA claims and Product Liability Attorney investigating veteran hearing loss and tinnitus on behalf of plaintiffs who used 3M combat earplugs.

The Lyon Firm is proud to represent veterans in tinnitus and hearing loss disability claims, as well as in class action lawsuits against 3M for failing to provide effective equipment to those serving in the nation’s armed forces.


Veteran Hearing Loss


Noise-induced hearing loss is so common because soldiers and military personnel are constantly exposed to high noise levels. Even with ear protection, service members risk ear injury because a good amount of the noise experienced exceeds the maximum allowed even with double hearing protection.

Tinnitus is described as a ringing of the ears, and is very common for those serving in the military. Those on flight decks, firing ranges and in combat zones are likely to be exposed to a range of loud noises. Earplugs are issued by the military, and 3M provided the military with millions of pairs of earplugs.

Many plaintiffs involved in the 3M Earplug Defect lawsuits state that they regularly wore the Combat Arms Earplugs, and yet they still suffer from tinnitus and hearing loss, some of which may be permanent.


Sources of Military Hearing Loss


  • Weapons
  • Explosions
  • Aircraft—jets, helicopters and cargo planes
  • Ship engine rooms
  • Carrier Deck noise

The defective 3M earplugs were designed to largely limit loud noises and at the same time hear spoken commands and other quieter sounds. But the company failed to warn that the earplugs may be ineffective for some. Lawyers involved in the case say the company was even aware of the earplug defects and chose not to inform the military.

Plaintiffs also say 3M failed to provide proper instructions for use. 3M marketed the Combat Arms Earplugs (CAE) earplugs to the military to protect against loud noises “like those in tracked vehicles and air transport.”

In July 2018, 3M settled a $9.1 million case with the Department of Justice over the Combat Arms earplug problems, though veteran hearing loss and tinnitus for many has not gone away. In fact, the amount of product liability 3M earplug lawsuits filed nationwide is expected to increase.


Symptoms of Hearing Loss & Tinnitus


Noise exposure can induce several hearing symptoms such as temporary threshold shifts, tinnitus, hyperacusis, recruitment, distortion or abnormal pitch perception. Patients with tinnitus sometimes exhibit difficulty in listening to high frequency noises such as whistles or buzzers. Symptoms of military hearing loss may include:

  • Asking people to repeat themselves often
  • Difficulty following conversations
  • Intently watching speakers’ mouths
  • Turning head to the side to assist hearing
  • Being vague with volume levels
  • Talking too loudly
  • Speech deterioration

Veteran Tinnitus Lawsuits


Hearing loss and veteran ear injury is said to be a cost of war. So many war veterans return with ear injuries that of all the veterans seeking VA care, about 20 percent have some kind of hearing loss. The military does supply soldiers with ear protection, however, it has been found defective and ineffective in many cases.

3M sold the United States Military their Combat Arms Earplugs for 18 years, from 2000 to 2018, when it was discovered the earplugs were defective in their design, and put many soldiers at risk of hearing loss and tinnitus.

In high noise situations—gun range, helicopter and plane runways, and in combat—soldiers relied on the earplugs to protect their hearing, dampening the loud sound of weapons and jet engines. Veteran ear injury reports include significant hearing loss and tinnitus.

Plaintiffs allege 3M employees knew about the defective military earplugs as early as 2000. However, 3M said their product testing complied with military standards. The company provided the earplugs until 2015 but the earplugs were not recalled and still used long after the company discontinued the product.

The Lyon Firm is proud to represent injured veterans in a variety of VA disability claims as well as class action product liability lawsuits. When defense contractors provide inferior and faulty safety equipment to soldiers which results in injury, veterans have the ability to come forward and file injury claims against companies like 3M.


Combat Earplug Defects


Some veterans have said the earplugs would easily slip out of the ear, or one of the ends would fall off. The qui tam lawsuit filed by the United States alleged that 3M and Aearo Technologies, Inc., knew the CAEv2 earplugs were too short for proper insertion into veterans ears and that the earplugs could loosen with a soldier realizing it.

3M marketed the Combat Arms Earplugs (CAE) earplugs to the military and claimed they “meet the demanding hearing protection needs of the armed forces,” and that they allow “greater situational awareness than a common foam earplug yet helps attenuate dangerous peak levels,” and the earplugs “protect against high-level steady noises like those in tracked vehicles and air transport.”

If you were exposed to high levels of auditory trauma during military service and have developed hearing loss or tinnitus, you may have a VA disability claim as well as an injury and product liability claim against 3M, the manufacturer of defective earplugs. A recent hearing test from a medical center is recommended.

The Lyon Firm is dedicated to representing veterans in VA disability claims in a wide variety of personal injury and product liability lawsuits. When contractors fail to protect those serving in the American armed forces, they should be held liable for injuries and damages related to their negligence.

VA Disability FAQ

What VA Disability benefits are available?

The following disability compensation benefits are available to Veterans:

Disability Compensation – a monthly monetary benefit paid to Veterans who are disabled by an injury or disease that was incurred in or aggravated by active military service. 

Automobile Allowance – financial assistance provided to help eligible severely disabled Servicemembers and Veterans purchase or adapt an automobile to accommodate their disabilities

Clothing Allowance – annual stipend(s) provided to disabled Veterans who have unique clothing needs as a result of a service-connected disability or injury.

Specially Adapted Housing/ Special Home Adaptation Grants – provides monetary benefits to adapt or obtain suitable housing for eligible severely disabled Veterans

Service-Disabled Veterans’ Insurance (S-DVI) – provides life insurance coverage to Veterans who have been given a VA rating for a new service-connected disability in the last two years. Totally disabled Veterans are eligible for free insurance premiums and have the opportunity to purchase additional insurance  

Veterans’ Mortgage Life Insurance (VMLI) – provides mortgage life insurance protection to disabled Veterans who have been approved for a VA Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) Grant

Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) – provides educational and training services to Veterans with service-connected illnesses and injuries to prepare for, obtain, and maintain suitable employment

Education Assistance – provides education benefits to Veterans to assist with obtaining a degree or with pursuing other eligible education and training

Dependents’ Educational Assistance (DEA) – provides assistance to survivors or dependents of Veterans to obtain a degree

 

Am I eligible for VA Disability Benefits?

Disability compensation is a monthly benefit paid to Veterans who are at least 10% disabled because of injuries or diseases that were incurred in or aggravated during active duty or active duty for training. A disability can apply
to physical conditions, such as a chronic knee
condition, as well as a mental health conditions,
such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
If you were on inactive duty for training, the
disability must have resulted from injury, heart
attack, or stroke. Your discharge from service must
have been under other than dishonorable conditions.
Compensation varies depending on the degree of
your disability. 

If you have dependents, an additional allowance
may be added if your combined disability is rated
30% or greater. Your compensation may be offset
if you receive military retirement pay, disability
severance pay, or separation incentive payments.

What are presumptive veteran disabilities?

VA presumes that some disabilities are due to
military service. You may be eligible to receive
service-connected disability benefits if you have
a qualifying disability associated with certain
conditions of service, such as:

» Former Prisoners of War
» Vietnam Veterans exposed to Agent Orange
» Gulf War Veterans with undiagnosed illnesses
and medically unexplained chronic multisymptom illnesses.

What is a “service-connected” disability?

A service-connected disability is related to an injury or disease that developed during or was aggravated while on active duty or active duty for training. VA also pays disability compensation for disabilities resulting from injury, heart attack, or stroke that occurred during
inactive duty training.

What compensation can i expect?

VA disability benefits depend on your level of disability and stats of dependents. You can calculate what you think you may deserve at the VA Web site: https://www.va.gov/disability/compensation-rates/veteran-rates/

Are VA Disability Benefits for life?

You can be eligible for VA benefits for as long as your service-related injury or disability is assigned to a compensable rating by the VA. 


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