Can you receive compensation for job-related mental stress?
Our PTSD lawyers can explain your legal rights.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is usually a psychological injury from a traumatic event. It’s a serious and debilitating mental health condition commonly associated with soldiers and military service men and women who go to war.
However, the condition also deeply affects many people across the nation working in countless industries and professions.
In police officers, PTSD may arise after a shooting incident, while in firefighters it could be caused by witnessing death in an accident.
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.
If you’ve personally experienced, witnessed or been confronted with a traumatic event in the workplace resulting in PTSD, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.
As long as the following two statements are true, you may be compensated by your employer for medical expenses and lost wages arising from a work-related traumatic event:
- You (the employee) are receiving or have received licensed counseling, and a licensed counselor or mental health professional has diagnosed you with PTSD resulting from the performance of your job duties.
- You properly reported the event to your employer, and your claim is filed on time with the Industrial Commission of Arizona.
As a Certified Workers’ Compensation Specialist of the Arizona State Bar, Robert E. 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 police, firefighters and first responders in their PTSD claims, and he has become a nationally recognized attorney expert in the prosecution of these complex workers’ compensation matters.
There’s no need for you to endure more mental stress than you’ve already suffered. You should focus on personal recovery, so let us focus on your financial recovery.
Without professional representation, many injured workers fail to receive the justice and compensation they deserve.
When you seek help from our experienced attorneys, we will defend you and shoulder the burden of securing fair compensation for you and your family.
We will coordinate with your treatment team to document all relevant medical evidence for your claim. You are not alone.
Our experienced work injury attorneys have successfully represented police officers, first responders and other public employers who suffered from work-related post traumatic stress disorder. Schedule your free consultation today.
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What PTSD Sufferers Should Know
You’re not alone.
The first thing you should know if you or a loved one are suffering from PTSD is that you are not alone. In addition to your family, friends, coworkers and other people who are willing to support you during this difficult time, many other individuals have experienced PTSD in the course of their work just like you. In fact, it’s much more common than you might realize. It has been estimated that 32% of first responders and 19% of police officers suffer from PTSD.
It’s okay to ask for help.
The second thing to know is that it’s okay to ask for help. The tricky thing about PTSD is that many people who suffer from it tend to underplay or conceal their pain because they see it as a sign of weakness. Whether you’re a soldier in combat or a first responder simply trying to do your job, you deserve support and you don’t have to live with this pain forever. There are treatments and therapies that can help you overcome this trauma.
PTSD Symptoms In Injured Workers
PTSD is commonly caused by witnessing traumatic events, or the result of head injuries and traumatic brain injury. Following a traumatic experience in the workplace, workers may experience some or all of the following symptoms:
- Severe depression occurring over a prolonged period of time
- Persistent anxiety and excessive worry
- Recurring unwanted thoughts or nightmares of the traumatic experience
- Flashbacks of the traumatic event
- Loss of appetite
- Withdrawal from family, friends and co-workers
These and other symptoms can affect your ability to work, and also negatively impact your life outside of work. Studies show that workers with PTSD have higher rates of absenteeism, a greater number of medical visits, an increased likelihood of unemployment or underemployment, lower hourly pay, and increased difficulty meeting work-related demands.
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.
Bob Wisniewski gets the Arizona Court of Appeals to reverse the trial court’s decision. The trial court at the Industrial Commission of Arizona originally denied benefits to a police officer for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). They held that the officer failed to file his claim within 1 year on the basis he “knew or should have known” he had PTSD. Wisniewski argued on appeal that the standard requires a medical diagnosis of a condition, not a layman’s perception. The court agreed and reversed the decision of the Industrial Commission of Arizona.
This court decision is significant, not only for this officer but for all first responders. Post-traumatic stress disorder often takes a long time to manifest its symptoms, and this now helps first responders who timely file after a medical diagnosis.
Common Obstacles Facing Workers’ Compensation PTSD Claims
PTSD wasn’t formally recognized as a legitimate medical diagnosis by the American Psychiatric Association until 1980. This may explain why insurance companies and companies are still often skeptical of PTSD claims and will scrutinize them carefully.
Workers’ compensation claims for a mental health condition are often more complex and difficult due to the variety of standards and issues of proof. Arizona has an especially difficult statute in that the event must be the substantial contributing cause of PTSD, and the event must be unusual, unexpected and extraordinary.
Just because an injury is unseen, doesn’t mean its impact on a person is any less real or costly. However, some employers and insurance companies may try to deny or dispute your claim, saying that you’re making it up or exaggerating your trauma.
What’s more, many employers and insurance companies don’t understand Arizona’s laws and can lead you astray with misinformation. For instance, they might threaten you with retaliation if you file a claim for PTSD, even though Arizona law and federal regulations explicitly prevent them from doing so. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission states that an employer cannot fire you for PTSD, and you have a legal right to ask for assistance if needed.
Another challenge commonly faced by PTSD claimants is the fact that symptoms of trauma often don’t appear immediately following the traumatic event. It may take months, or even years in some cases, for PTSD symptoms to appear. This fact makes it more difficult to connect the PTSD to the traumatic work-related event, making obtaining workers’ compensation benefits more challenging for injured workers.
In defending your claim, there must be sufficient and proper diagnosis with expert medical testimony from a licensed psychiatrist or psychologist. Even this doesn’t necessarily guarantee approval of your claim though, especially if you have a prior history of psychological or mental health issues. Personal statements from family members, friends, and co-workers saying how your behavior changed may serve to sway the verdict in your favor.
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Workers’ compensation certified specialist. PTSD lawyer for first responders and police officers.
Certified workers’ compensation specialist under the Arizona Board of Legal Specialization
Questions and answers about compensation for a job-related accident, injury or illness in Arizona
Mr. Wisniewski has been recognized as the premier workers’ compensation lawyer in Arizona. He is the only claimants’ attorney recognized as a Fellow of The College of Workers’ Compensation.
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Contact Our Arizona PTSD Injury Lawyers For Your FREE Consultation
If you have experienced a traumatic event in the workplace and believe you may be suffering from PTSD, seek help from a licensed mental health professional immediately. Then, call Bob Wisniewski, who is highly experienced in PTSD claims and will help you through the complex workers’ compensation claim process.
Under Arizona workers’ compensation law, injured workers only have 1 year from the date of the event and/or diagnosis of PTSD to file a claim with the Industrial Commission of Arizona. The worker must also notify their employer as soon as possible after being diagnosed with work-related PTSD.
Mr. Wisniewski has represented many Arizonans suffering from PTSD, including law enforcement officers and first responders when they’ve been deprived of the benefits they are owed. Our Phoenix workers’ compensation lawyers can provide you answers on what to do next and how to protect your rights now. We’ll fight to ensure you receive the care and compensation you deserve.
Why hire our Arizona workers’ comp lawyers?
- We understand the special needs of an injured worker
- Trained and helpful staff
- Personal attention to clients
- Calls promptly returned
- Clients kept up-to-date on case
- State-wide service
- Aggressive & experienced representation
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Don’t delay any longer. Let us show you how we can assist you with your workers’ compensation PTSD claim.
While our main law office is in downtown Phoenix, we handle workers’ compensation claims throughout Arizona – including Yuma, Kingman, Payson and Flagstaff.