How Much Is Your 3M® Dual-Ended Combat Arms™ Earplugs Case Worth?

Putting a dollar value on a lawsuit over combat earplugs starts with understanding how "damages" work.

Once you've decided to file a lawsuit over tinnitus, hearing loss or other health problems linked to your use of 3M® Dual-Ended Combat Arms™ earplugs, one of your biggest questions likely has to do with the value of your case. How do you put a dollar figure on harm resulting from a defective product like this? What specific losses will be covered in a settlement or court award over faulty combat earplugs?

"Damages" in a Combat Earplugs Case

As with any injury-related case, figuring out the value of a 3M® Dual-Ended Combat Arms™ earplugs claim starts with an understanding of the nature and extent of the injured person's "damages," which is a legal term that refers to compensation for losses suffered by that person (the plaintiff). Damages are paid by the defendant in the lawsuit. (In these combat earplug cases, the defendant is usually 3M®, the manufacturer, but others in the supply chain may also share some measure of liability.) Whether your combat earplug case settles out of court or you receive a judgment in your favor after a trial, the money you receive is considered damages. (Learn more about the basics of damages and compensation in a personal injury case.)

Let's look at some common categories of damages, and how each might affect the value of your 3M® combat earplugs lawsuit.

Cost of Past and Future Medical Care

As a plaintiff, if you win or settle your case, your damages include compensation for:

  • any medical treatment you've received as a result of tinnitus (which involves ringing, buzzing, or other noise in the ears), hearing loss or related problems linked to 3M® combat earplugs that failed to perform properly, and
  • any care you'll need in the future.

(Learn why a specific medical diagnosis is crucial to a 3M® Dual-Ended Combat Arms™ earplugs lawsuit.)

(On a related note, if the full extent and impact of your medical complications isn't clear, it's probably not in your best interest to accept an injury settlement offer. Your attorney will almost certainly want to wait until both of you have a clear picture of this component of your damages, because once you accept an injury settlement, you can't go back and reopen your claim, even if you learn that health problems caused by the defective earplugs are worse than you first thought.)

Lost Income and Diminished Earning Capacity

If your hearing problems or other health issues have forced you to take time off from your job, or have otherwise affected your ability to earn a living, that kind of economic harm will also factor into your damages in a claim over combat earplugs. Specifically, you are entitled to compensation for any income you've already lost—and for income you would have earned in the future but now won't—due to your hearing problems. In "legalese," an award based on future income is characterized as compensation for the injured person's "loss of earning capacity" or "diminished earning capacity."

"Pain and Suffering" in a Combat Earplugs Case

While economic losses like medical bills and lost income are fairly easy to calculate, "pain and suffering" isn't so easy to quantify. But this category of damages plays a big part in determining how much you can expect to receive in an injury case, and can be a crucial component of a combat earplugs lawsuit. Pain and suffering is often broken down into two types:

  • Physical pain and suffering includes the discomfort resulting from your hearing issues and any other health problems, including any pain caused by the course of care necessary to properly diagnose and treat your condition.
  • Mental pain and suffering can be viewed as the subjective psychological impact of your hearing problems and other health issues. This includes anguish, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, fear, anger, humiliation, anxiety, shock, sleeplessness, and other negative effects.

(Learn more about pain and suffering in a personal injury case.)

The "Duty to Mitigate" Damages in a Combat Earplugs Case

When you file a combat earplugs lawsuit, you're asking the defendant to compensate you for your damages, but you're also taking on the legal obligation to keep those damages to a reasonable minimum. The law in most states expects injury claimants to minimize or "mitigate" the financial impact of the harm caused by the defendant's alleged wrongdoing. For example, if 3M® (or another defendant) can successfully argue that you failed to get necessary medical treatment when you first began experiencing hearing loss or related problems, and that the delay caused your condition to further deteriorate, your damages award might be significantly reduced. This is one of many reasons why it's important to have an experienced lawyer on your side.

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