Phoenix, AZ (May 20, 2019) – A critical appeals case was recently decided in favor of police, firefighters and first responders on March 21st by the Arizona Court of Appeals.
Officer Benjamin Pitts suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and filed a workers’ compensation claim as soon as he was diagnosed by his treating psychologist. However, the administrative law judge in the case dismissed the officer’s claim as an untimely filing because he displayed some PTSD symptoms. According to the judge, he “knew or should have known he has PTSD” and should have filed his workers’ compensation case earlier.
Officer Pitts filed an appeal and the court agreed to overturn the previous ruling.
“This is a significant case for all police, firefighters and first responders,” said attorney Wisniewski, a certified workers’ compensation specialist in Arizona who represented Officer Pitts against the City of Chandler.
First responders, including police officers, emergency medical technicians (EMTs), paramedics, firefighters and state troopers, can suffer from PTSD as a result of experiencing or witnessing traumatic events in the line of duty. In as many as 90% of PTSD cases, the patient experiences another mental or behavioral disorder such as depression, anxiety, alcohol abuse, personality disorder, social anxiety disorder or increased risk of suicide.
If you’ve been injured in the line of duty, personally experienced, witnessed or been confronted with a traumatic event in the workplace resulting in PTSD, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.
Contact Attorney Robert E. Wisniewski
Certified Workers’ Compensation Specialist of the Arizona State Bar
A decade ago, Wisniewski was responsible for litigating the first police PTSD case acknowledged by Arizona Law at the Industrial Commission of Arizona. Since then, Wisniewski has successfully represented several police, firefighters and first responders in their PTSD claims and has become a nationally recognized attorney expert in the prosecution of these complex workers’ compensation matters.
While this is a significant case denominated as an opinion (which means it can be cited as precedential value by lawyers assisting other officers), the officers still face a difficult burden of proof established in the Arizona statute. The event that causes the post traumatic stress must be a substantial contributing cause of the PTSD and arise out of an unusual, extraordinary and unexpected event. This statute creates an almost insurmountable burden for police, firefighters and first responders attempting to get psychiatric or psychological benefits under the Arizona’s current workers’ compensation system.
“In order to provide much deserved benefits to the brave men and women who serve as police, firefighters and first responders throughout Arizona, this statute needs to be changed, plain and simple,” said Wisniewski.
Law Offices of Robert E. Wisniewski