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Workers' Compensation

Arizona: Police Officer’s PTSD Claim is Not Compensable

In a divided decision, an Arizona appellate court affirmed the denial of a police officer’s PTSD claim, agreeing with the state’s Industrial Commission that the officer had failed to show that he had been subjected to “unexpected, unusual or extraordinary” stress [see A.R.S. § 23-1043.01(B)]. The officer had been called to the scene of a barricaded man. He watched a live videotape feed and, after the gunshots were heard, the officer saw other officers breach a garage door and then viewed the suspect crawl from the residence with a gunshot wound to the chest. The officer subsequently sought benefits for PTSD. Evidence at a hearing on the claim tended to show that the incident, while tragic, was not significantly rare. The officer employed an ingenious argument—that the Arizona statute (A.R.S. § 23-1043.01(B)) was unconstitutional because it allowed the police department and its insurer to wield what amounted to an “assumption of risk” defense. The majority of the court was not convinced, however. The Commission had made a factual determination and the majority would not substitute its judgment for that of the Commission. 

Thomas A. Robinson, J.D., the co-Editor-in-Chief and Feature National Columnist for the LexisNexis Workers’ Compensation eNewsletter, is co-author of Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law (LexisNexis).

LexisNexis Online Subscribers: Citations below link to Lexis Advance. 

See Matthews v. Industrial Comm’n of Ariz., 2021 Ariz. App. LEXIS 129 (July 9, 2021)

See generally Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, § 56.04.

Source: Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, the nation’s leading authority on workers’ compensation law

For a more detailed discussion of the case, see

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