If 3M’s Combat Arms earplugs have affected your hearing, you may wonder, “How much is the average 3M hearing loss payout?” Settlement amounts in other tinnitus and hearing loss cases suggest an average payout ranging from around $50,000 to $250,000. It’s hard to accurately predict how 3M lawsuits and individual settlement amounts will play out, as adequate public information is unavailable at the moment. 3M is currently facing over 200,000 lawsuits. With time, more details on settlement amounts and potential outcomes will be available, making it easier to determine the average settlement range more accurately. If you used 3M earplugs and suffered hearing loss, tinnitus, or other related effects in Chicago, it’s critical to understand your eligibility for settlements, potential payouts, and how to pursue compensation and justice for your injury.
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Understanding 3M Hearing Loss
U.S. military service members and veterans across the country who have used the 3M Combat Arms earplugs have complained about developing hearing problems like tinnitus, partial or total hearing loss, and the need to use hearing aids. The earplugs are allegedly behind these hearing problems, making them a potentially unreasonably dangerous product. But what is an unreasonably dangerous product? This is a product that poses injury risks beyond what an ordinary user might expect.
The dual-ended Combat Arms earplugs were initially manufactured by Aearo Technologies, which 3M acquired in 2008. Between 2003 and 2015, they were the standard hearing protection equipment for several branches of the U.S. military. They were used to provide protection from loud noises and hearing loss in combat and training.
Defect in 3M Earplugs
The major defect of these earplugs was in the design of their stems. The stems were too short, preventing the earplugs from going deep enough into the wearer’s ears and sealing the ears properly. The earplugs would loosen unexpectedly over time without the wearer’s knowledge. As a result, these 3M earplugs allowed damaging sounds from gunfire, explosives, aircraft, and artillery to enter the ear canal regularly. These dangerous sound levels left service members at risk of tinnitus and hearing impairment.
Different sources report that 3M knew of the defect, but didn’t disclose it to the military. The company failed to adequately warn about the flaws and possible health risks associated with using the earplugs. The company has also been accused of manipulating the test results of the product to make it meet the government’s required standards. 3M never recalled the earplugs and kept selling them until late 2015, when it discontinued manufacturing them.
The 3M Combat Arms earplugs can potentially be subjected to two types of product liability claims: design and marketing defects.
Compensation for Hearing Loss
In July 2018, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that 3M had agreed to pay a $9.1 million settlement over claims it sold defective military earplugs knowingly to the U.S. military without disclosing the defects and falsified test results. After news broke of the settlement, hundreds of thousands of veterans and service members started filing lawsuits against 3M for their hearing problems and resulting health issues.
Nearly 300,000 veterans and service members have sued 3M over the defective earplugs that caused them to develop auditory issues. Plaintiffs have increasingly won bellwether test trials, with the damages awarded against 3M totaling more than $300 million. As a result, the average payout per trial has been over $20 million. In one of the trials, a federal jury awarded a former soldier who had suffered hearing loss $77.5 million in damages. In another one, two Army veterans were awarded $110 million for damages.
Other compensation figures that were awarded in the bellwether trials related to 3M lawsuits include $8.2 million, $1.1 million, and $7.1 million, awarded to three veterans. The results of the trials showed that juries would award significant compensation if they believed the tinnitus or hearing loss that plaintiffs suffered resulted from 3M’s negligence.
Unsurprisingly, on August 29, 2023, 3M agreed to a $6 billion settlement for the damages its Combat Arms earplugs caused to military personnel. The company will pay $5 billion in cash and $1 billion in the form of stock from 2023 to 2029. People eligible for the settlement are expected to be more than 240,000.
The settlements are to be organized into three large categories. Those with modest hearing issues who don’t want lengthy evaluations and can accept smaller payouts could get around $20,000. Those with more severe hearing damage could receive much more but would have to go through a lengthier process lasting several years. 3M has a right to walk away if less than 98% of eligible claimants participate. Therefore, it’s crucial to participate in the settlement if you’re eligible.
Factors Impacting Average Payouts for 3M Hearing Loss in Illinois
The 3M earplug lawsuit average payout per person was well over $1 million in the bellwether trials. However, you shouldn’t take that as the answer to “How much is the average 3M hearing loss payout?” Settlement payouts in Chicago and other areas will most likely be lower than that. Although legal analysts expect potentially large 3M earplug settlement payouts, the average payout will differ from one case to another depending on several factors.
Severity of Hearing Loss
The severity of a plaintiff’s hearing loss has a significant impact on payouts for 3M earplug claims. The more severe the plaintiff’s hearing loss, the larger the compensation. For example, lawsuits involving severe hearing damage will be valued higher than those involving milder tinnitus.
Past and Future Medical Expenses
The compensation you receive will cover the medical expenses you’ve already incurred, such as doctor visits, therapy sessions, and hearing aids. In some cases, the hearing loss and accompanying problems like recurrent ear pain, headaches, and loss of balance may require long-term treatment and ongoing care. These future expenses will also affect the compensation amount.
Quality of Life and Daily Functioning
If the hearing injuries you’ve suffered have life-altering effects, you’re entitled to compensation that addresses the impact of the injuries on your day-to-day activities and quality of life.
Hearing impairment problems may make you fail to perform your job properly, leading to lost wages. Debilitating hearing problems may prevent you from earning a living as you used to before, resulting in decreased earning capacity and loss of future employment opportunities. You’re entitled to compensation for wages you’ve already lost and the income you’d have earned in the future but can’t due to your injuries.
Veterans with tinnitus or hearing loss can experience complications like difficulty sleeping and concentrating when listening. These could lead to communication and social challenges. Anxiety, PTSD, depression, and other mental health issues could also arise.
Legal Assistance for Hearing Loss Compensation
Although financial compensation can’t reverse hearing loss, it can help alleviate the financial strain resulting from your injury.
You may qualify to file a 3M earplug claim if:
- You served in the U.S. military between 2003 and 2015
- You used 3M’s Combat Arms earplugs during your service
- You’ve been diagnosed with hearing loss, tinnitus, or other related problems
A product liability lawyer can provide a free case evaluation to help determine whether you have a valid claim against 3M and explain your legal options.
The Legal Process Involved in Pursuing a Claim in Chicago
Pursuing a 3M hearing loss claim involves gathering the necessary documents, accurately completing all the required paperwork, and submitting them within the applicable deadlines. To recover damages in a 3M earplug claim, you’ll need to provide documents like your official service records and medical records indicating you suffered tinnitus, hearing loss, or any other health issue related to using 3M Combat Arms earplugs.
A product liability lawyer can help you navigate the 3M earplug claim process. Your lawyer will thoroughly investigate your case, seek the professional opinion of experts to support your claim, document the full extent of your injuries and damages, complete the legal paperwork for you, and represent you in legal proceedings. He or she can handle the whole process from the beginning to the end.
It takes time for a product liability attorney to collect evidence and build your case. The sooner you reach out to the attorney and the more time the attorney has, the stronger the case he or she can build for you. Additionally, there’s a deadline for filing product liability lawsuits like the 3M earplug lawsuit.
In Chicago and the rest of Illinois, you generally have two years to file a product liability lawsuit. Illinois follows the discovery rule. Consequently, the two-year clock can start ticking when you learn about your injury and have reason to believe it may have been caused by the defective earplugs. A product liability lawyer will help you establish the deadline that applies to your case.