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Arizona court says officers can claim workers’ compensation for PTSD

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PHOENIX (AP) — An Arizona court ruling stemming from a sheriff’s deputy’s encounter with a shotgun-wielding man says law enforcement officers can claim workers’ compensation benefits if diagnosed with PTSD or other mental conditions because of extraordinary high stressful incidents on the job.

A Gila County deputy diagnosed with PTSD and his “injury-inducing stress, imposed upon the claimant by virtue of his employment, was sufficiently significant and noteworthy” to differentiate it from general stress caused by work, the Arizona Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday.

Mental injuries, illnesses or conditions don”t qualify for worker’ compensation “unless some unexpected, unusual or extraordinary related to the employment” was a substantial contributing cause, the ruling said.

The state industrial commission denied the Gila County deputy’s claim resulting from a 2017 incident in which the deputy had a shotgun pointed at his chest and face at close range by a man who was then shot and killed by the deputy and another officer.

The shooting occurred outside a home were the deputies went in response to a report of a person threatening to kill himself.

The appeals court’s ruling said not all situations in which officers draw their weapons or use deadly force will result in claims that qualify for compensation. It still would have to be shown that the employment-related event caused the claimed mental injury, the ruling added.

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