Arizona PTSD Case Sets Precedent in Favor of Police, Firefighters and First Responders

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But workers' compensation statutes still need to be changed to protect Arizona's brave police, firefighters and first responders

PHOENIX - May 13, 2019 - eTradeWire -- 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.

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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.

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About Robert E. Wisniewski

Robert E. Wisniewski ( is a certified workers' compensation specialist by the State Bar of Arizona, and he was named a Fellow of the College of Workers' Compensation Lawyers — the only claimants' lawyer in Arizona so honored. Mr. Wisniewski has one mission: "justice for the injured worker." For over 43 years, Bob has devoted his practice to representing Arizona injured workers in more than 12,000 Industrial Commission hearings state-wide. Bob has been named a Super Lawyer by Thomson Reuters. He's also been recognized by Best Lawyers (AZ & NM – Workers' Compensation Law), Client Choice, and Phoenix Magazine (Phoenix Top Attorney). He is an active member of the legal community, writing and lecturing on all aspects of workers' compensation law.

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Dawn White

Source: Law Offices of Robert E Wisniewski
Filed Under: Legal

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